More time to have your say on council-house management

Coun Allan Hepple.
Coun Allan Hepple.

The county council has extended the deadline for housing tenants to have their say on future management arrangements – and also organised events so that they can come along and find out more.

All tenants are being asked their views on the future management of council housing in Northumberland – with a proposal that in the future homes will be managed directly by the council rather than by a separate company.

The original deadline for responses has been extended from the end of January until Friday, March 27, and all tenants have been sent a reminder and second questionnaire – in case they misplaced the original.

Events, at St James’ Church Centre, Pottergate, Alnwick, on Tuesday, February 24, 6.30pm-8.30pm, and Fourways 2, Amble, on Monday, March 9, 5pm-7pm, will give tenants the opportunity to find out more about the proposals, and ask questions of councillors and council officers.

The council has been working with tenants to provide some further information by post – including details of the estimated cost savings in making the changes, and what saved money would be spent on.

Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member responsible for housing at the county council, said: “We are very keen to know tenants’ views on our proposals. We believe that through making these changes at the management level of the organisation we can continue to provide the same high-quality services to all tenants – but also free up some money that can be reinvested in housing services.”

There are significant additional costs involved in running a separate company. The council believes that if the service was delivered directly it would save costs such as separate finance, human resources, IT and other back-office services. The money saved would be reinvested to: Maintain a high-quality housing service for tenants, and make improvements to this where possible, in consultation with tenants; Improve and maintain all council homes; and invest in building much-needed new council homes in Northumberland.

Of the 8,500 tenants of Homes for Northumberland properties, around 700 have already responded to the consultation with 94 per cent of those who have responded in support of the council’s proposal and six per cent against.