Confusion over Flintshire homes transfer vote

Reporter:

Lois Hough

PLANS to transfer 7,500 council homes to a private landlord have been thrown into confusion yesterday amid claims that some tenants might not be able to vote.

A leading councillor suggested a proposal to demolish 240 crumbling maisonettes in Flint could mean tenants living in them might not be allowed to take part in a ballot to determine the future of the Flintshire Council housing stock.

Cllr Aaron Shotton, opposition Labour group leader on Flintshire Council, said council chiefs admitted to him in a meeting that discussions were taking place about removing the maisonettes from the stockpile.

His revelation sent shockwaves through a housing scrutiny committee meeting at County Hall yesterday where members heard the claims for the first time.

Chairman Cllr Ron Hampson said: “It is unbelievable that Cllr Shotton has brought this before the council today and nobody knew.

“We are not happy about the situation at all.”

Cllr Stella Jones added: “I am appalled by what I have just heard.

“We were promised openness and transparency in this process and now we are hearing about meetings behind closed doors.”

A Landlord Choice Working Group and the Housing Project Board set up by Flintshire Council have compiled a list of options for voters in the October 2011 ballot.

Their preferred option is to transfer housing stock to an independent landlord but for the council to have veto on important decisions.

Cllr Carolyn Cattermoul, Housing Project Board chairman, told the meeting: “There has been a suggestion that the Flint maisonettes should not be part of the ballot but it’s not a decision that has been taken yet.

“It is a really good question why you have not been made aware of this.

“I was horrified when I found out too.”

Head of housing Clare Budden said the maisonettes were not a popular choice with residents. “We simply don’t have the demand for them, but if somebody wants one we can repair it and re-let it.”

After the meeting council leader Arnold Woolley told the Leader residents would definitely have a vote in the ballot.

“Even if the decision was made to demolish the maisonettes you don’t tear down buildings in a few months.

“As long as they are a council tenant at the time of the ballot, then they will have a vote.

“It is complete nonsense and I have no idea where these claims have come from.
“It is most weird.”

Chief executive Colin Everett added: “There is no suggestion at this stage that tenants in Flint maisonettes will not have a vote.”

The options for housing stock transfer will be discussed again before full council on December 7.

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