Bombshell for Hucknall council-house tenants

HEADQUARTERS of Ashfield Homes
HEADQUARTERS of Ashfield Homes

A “DISASTER” is looming for council-house tenants in Hucknall if a controversial proposal to scrap Ashfield Homes to save cash is rubberstamped.

Council properties across Ashfield are currently owned by the district council and managed by Ashfield Homes, an arms-length and not-for-profit company.

But next month, councillors will be asked to consider cancelling the management agreement, effectively scrapping the organisation and bringing housing stock back under the council’s direct control.

Campaigner and former Ashfield Homes chairman Pat Simms has slammed the idea and has vowed to petition residents for support as part of a campaign to block the move.

“This decision is about people’s lives, not money,” said Pat. “The tenants pay their rent and have the right to live in a decent home.

“I will do whatever it takes to make the council see that getting rid of Ashfield Homes is not the right decision for tenants.”

Ashfield Homes currently employs about 200 workers and provides services to more than 7,000 tenants.

Since it began trading in 2002, the company has received two ‘excellent’ three-star ratings after independent inspections.

Pat said Ashfield District Council would be losing a “service to be proud of” if councillors vote to shut it down.

“Although there have been issues (with the service), Ashfield Homes has delivered a three-star excellent service in the past and that is not something the council should be throwing away,” she added.

The chairman of Ashfield Tenants and Residents Association, Doreen Savage, said householders were worried scrapping Ashfield Homes would mean they received poorer service.

She added: “I have been a tenant under Ashfield Homes and Ashfield District Council and I was also an employee of both organisations. The service provided by Ashfield Homes is better.

“My heart lies with the tenants who are pensioners. I have seen the ways older people can be mistreated.”

The vote will come after the release of an independent report commissioned by the council to help them make the decision.

Coun Gail Turner (Ind) said Ashfield Homes needed to be reviewed because of recent funding cuts.

“It is time that we had a look at Ashfield Homes because we are living in a time where money is tight,” said Coun Turner.

“It must be scrutinised in the same way departments of the district council should be scrutinised.”

The council is required to give Ashfield Homes 12 months’ notice should councillors vote to scrap the management agreement. Councillors will vote at their meeting on Thursday June 28.