Tenants must make their voices heard

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A COUNCILLOR has made a plea for tenants to make their voices heard during a consultation over changes to the management of social housing.

Northumberland County Council is embarking on consultations with tenants over its plans to take over management from Homes for Northumberland (HfN).

There will also be a ballot of tenants but, as the ownership of the housing would not be changing, there are no rules over what turnout or percentage of the vote is needed to make a decision. The council just has to show that it has conscientiously considered the outcome.

At the forum, Coun Robert Arckless, ward member for Amble, said: “The council is saying the financial incentive to keep the ALMO (in this case HfN) isn’t there anymore.

“I do have reservations about the process, I’m not comfortable about the situation and at times it’s been very unpleasant.

“But I don’t want a turnout that allows the council to conscientiously consider the outcome and then move on. I would be devastated if we ended up with a very low turnout in the tenant vote.”

He also pointed out that while an in-principle decision has been made by the executive, it has not gone to full council yet.

“I am quite sure their decision will be influenced by the tenants,” he added.

Among concerns raised by tenants at the Resident’s Forum were the wording and information for the ballot as well as publicising the vote, particularly to younger people.

Kevin Lowery, interim head of housing services at the county council, said that these issues will be discussed in detail with tenants.