Ashfield District Council has axed Ashfield Homes and will directly deliver the district’s housing management itself.
The controversial decision was approved at a meeting of the authority on Thursday after the results of a consultation gave the proposal the green light.
Today Ashfield Homes said they were “disappointed” with the decision.
At Ashfield District Council’s meeting Councillors agreed a report recommending the Council delivering directly housing management services to the Councils’ tenants.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Cheryl Butler, said “I would like to give recognition to Ashfield Homes for delivering the housing management service for a number of years and the good work it has achieved, including the Decent Homes Standard for the District and improved satisfaction ratings.
“I am, however, convinced that returning the housing management service to the Council will deliver significant savings and a better service for tenants and leaseholders.
“These savings will help to protect frontline services which is imperative when we are facing ongoing budget cuts.
“We look forward to working with AHL to ensure a smooth transition for tenants, leaseholders and staff.”
Portfolio holder for Housing, Councillor Keir Morrison said: “We carried out a comprehensive consultation, making sure everyone could have their say and ensuring that we had views representative of the whole range of tenants in the District. That the overwhelming response was positive about the return of the housing service was an important consideration.
“Council Housing in the District is of utmost importance and now we will be able to ensure that the Housing service is fully integrated, allowing us to deliver on our commitments to tenants and leaseholders. We will also be consulting with tenants about how the savings from this service might best be invested“.
A report presented to councillors detailed the results of a survey sent in March to 3,000 tenants, 187 leaseholders and the council’s Citizen’s Panel and Youth Forum.
From the 3,000 tenants, 756 responded representing a 25 per cent response rate. Of those 64.6 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with the proposal.
Just 14.4 per cent of leaseholders responded with overall satisfaction of 77.8 per cent.
The rate for members of the Citizens Panel satisfied or very satisfied was 79.8 per cent.
Peter O’Brien the Chair of the Board of Ashfield Homes said Ashfield Homes Ltd was disappointed to receive notification from Ashfield District Council of its final decision to revert to direct management of Council housing and in turn dissolve the Company.
Mr O’Brien said: “Having delivered excellent housing services to our tenants for over 14 years as managing agents,
“We believe our specialist housing knowledge, expertise, and experience, together with our relationship and understanding of our tenants needs, best places us to deliver housing services, both now and into the future.
“We will, of course, continue to support and deliver services to our tenants to the highest standard, whilst working with the Council during the transitional period.
“It has been an honour to provide housing and other related services to our tenants who have always been at the heart of our service delivery.
“Whilst we regret the Councils decision, we respect the Council’s right to deliver direct services if they consider it to be in the best interests of tenants.
“We also note the Council’s commitment to ensure that once the Company ceases to operate, services to tenants will be maintained to the highest standard.”
The move is being opposed by the Ashfield Tenants and Residents Association which has served the authority with a stock transfer notice to transfer social housing to a new group managed by residents.
Independent Councillor Tom Hollis said “Councillor Tom Hollis said:
“Labour have taken their axe to Ashfield homes to prop up their failing budgets.
“They will strip half a million from social housing in Ashfield and that’s not what tenants want or our residents deserve - they deserve better which is why The Ashfield Independents are supporting the Ashfield federation of tennents in the application for the right to manage their own housing”
More when we have it.