Flintshire tenants told ‘every vote counts’ in ballot over housing

Reporter:

Lois Hough

A BALLOT to determine the future of Flintshire’s council housing stock will take place next summer, it has been confirmed.

Tenants from 7,500 council properties across the county will decide whether to hand over control of their homes to a social landlord or stick with council ownership.

The Welsh Assembly says all properties in Wales must be brought up to standard by 2012, but the council has said it cannot afford to do it.

Council chief executive Colin Everett told a meeting of the community and housing scrutiny committee at County Hall yesterday: “The Housing Ballot Project is one of the most important projects being run by the council.

“It has major implications for the future shape of social housing in the county, our tenants and our workforce.

“Working with the Welsh Assembly we will offer the tenants a choice over the future direction of social housing and the final decision will rest with the tenants.

“Whether the tenants choose a new landlord or to stay with the council, we are committed to modernising the social housing stock and to rapid improvement of the housing management and maintenance services our tenants receive.”

The transfer option is not a new idea in Wales.

Residents in Bridgend were the first to vote for a transfer to a new landlord in 2002, followed by Monmouthshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Newport, Torfaen, Conwy,
Gwynedd, Blaenau Gwent, Neath Port Talbot, Ceredigion and Merthyr Tydfil.
Tenants in Wrexham and Swansea voted to stay with the council.

An independent tenant adviser will hold the ballot to ensure the process is fair, but the council has pledged to stay neutral.

Mr Everett said: “Most councils state a preference on how they would like tenants to vote but we would like to let them make their own choice.

“Everyone has opinions and people are entitled to have them. People involved in the project are staying neutral so tenants can choose between the two options.”

Aston councillor Helen Yale, executive member for housing, encouraged tenants to use their vote when the time comes.

She said: “The council is committed to open consultation with its tenants while maintaining a neutral stance on the options. We value our tenants’ opinions and would encourage them to take an active told in the consultation.”

Mr Everett added: “Every vote counts.”

See full story in the Leader

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