‘Housing services should stay with Flintshire Council’

Reporter:

Matt Jones

KEY housing services should remain under council control even if local authority properties pass into private hands, a report recommends.

Tenants from 7,500 council properties across Flintshire are to vote on whether to hand over control of their homes to a social landlord.

The council is recommending it retains key responsibilities including homelessness, housing advice, housing register administration, housing allocations and nominations and private sector housing renewal and enforcement.

At a meeting of the council’s housing scrutiny committee, head of housing Clare Budden said: “It is important tenants are clear what they want when they are voting.

“We are doing work to see how we think the housing structure will look if tenants vote yes.

“If tenants were to vote ‘yes’ there would be a period of negotiation with the council, its advisers and the newly created social landlord about a whole host of things.”

Some authorities who had passed control of homelessness services to a social landlord had decided to bring the service back under council control.

Miss Budden said: “Our view is based on that experience. We would prefer and recommend to keep the whole function in house.”

Flintshire Council has insisted it would remain neutral throughout the process.

During the meeting some councillors expressed their opposition to the plan, while some councillors supported the idea of retaining control of some services.

Cllr Gareth Roberts said the council had, at great expense, put tenants up in hotels when there was a lack of accommodation.

He said: “We have been asked to retain the homelessness service because the new housing association won’t want it.”

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.

Tenants in Wrexham and Swansea voted to stay with their councils while Conwy residents voted for transfer.

Flintshire tenants will cast their votes in the summer.

The recommendations have yet to be formally approved with the council set to inform tenants of any decision.

See full story in the Leader

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