Report recommends council axes Ashfield Homes

NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices
NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices

Ashfield District Council looks set to axe Ashfield Homes and directly deliver the district’s housing management itself.

The controversial decision is expected to be approved at a meeting of the authority on Thursday after the results of a consultation gave the proposal the green light.

A new report shows a majority of tenants agree with the move - but just a quarter of 3,000 tenants responded to a survey sent out in March.

If the decision is approved the council will serve notice on Ashfield Homes Limited to terminate the management agreement and for Ashfield District Council to deliver the deliver the management function in house by April 30 2017.

A report to be presented to councillors details 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.

Ashfield District Council Leader Councillor Cheryl Butler said: “Running the housing service as a separate function is costly and not as efficient as it could be.

“Returning the service to the direct control of the council means tenants would still get the quality service they need, delivered by the same frontline staff, and the money saved would be reinvested in services.

However, at this stage, it is still a proposal and no final decision will be made until the full council meeting.”

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.

A call for a residents referendum to decide the future of Ashfield Homes was scotched by the Council in January.

Opposition councillors asked for the poll when they called in the authorities proposal to bring the management of its council housing stock back in-house and to axe Ashfield Homes.

Conservative councillor Phil Rostance said: “This week we’ve seen Ashfield Homes residents hand in their notice to the Council, saying that they would rather take on the task of trying to manage all of this housing themselves than risk giving it back to Ashfield District Council.

“That’s how bad their experiences are from the last time ADC was in charge.

“The Council couldn’t run the service properly before and that’s why Ashfield Homes was set up in the first place. Ashfield Homes has both saved money and improved the service.

“Now residents are scared that they are going back to those days when their homes weren’t up to standard.

The Council is due to make its final decision and, even though I asked them at the end of last year to make sure all of the residents had a say, they’ve only spoke to something like 10per cent of the people who live in the houses that will be affected.

“How they can make this decision on that basis is beyond me, it’s another example of the Labour leadership not listening to local people.”