Tenant Consultation to get Underway
South Tyneside Council will next week launch consultation about the future of council housing in the borough.
Around 18,000 council tenants and leaseholders will be asked to take part in an independent ballot, after Cabinet took a 'minded to' decision last month to bring the delivery of housing services back in-house.
Their decision followed an independent review of council housing, which was commissioned in anticipation of revised regulatory and legislative requirements, and to ensure the best outcomes for residents.
Cabinet's preferred option, as recommended at the conclusion of the review, was that services currently delivered by South Tyneside Homes, the council's Arm's Length Management Organisation (ALMO), should transfer back to direct council control.
However, this is subject to a formal consultation period with tenants and leaseholders, which will get underway on Tuesday 30 January and close on 7 March.
All tenants and leaseholders will receive a ballot pack through the post over the coming days. This will contain a letter, information about the proposals and a ballot paper. This can be completed and returned by post or people can give their views via an online survey.
Further information and frequently asked questions can be found at: Council Housing Review - South Tyneside Homes
Cllr Jim Foreman, Lead Member for Housing and Community Safety, said: "Tenants are at the very heart of this so it's vital that we bring them on this journey with us.
"Since it was established in 2006, South Tyneside Homes has brought thousands of properties up to the Decent Homes standard and beyond, improving conditions and enhancing residents' quality of life.
"We know from ward visits and walkabouts that residents continue to really value the work being done in their homes and communities. However, tenant satisfaction is mixed and it's important that as a responsible landlord we listen to and act upon their views.
"Housing is about far more than bricks and mortar, it's a gateway to many other services and it's crucial that we adopt a whole-system approach to provide more effective prevention, intervention and support for residents.
"The review gave us the opportunity to evaluate our housing services and identify improvements that will make a difference to tenants and we want their input to shape the best possible services going forward."
Cabinet also approved putting in place interim governance arrangements to ensure shared structure and operational oversight.
Cllr Foreman added: "Bringing council housing back in-house would give us the opportunity to ensure services are joined up and streamlined, helping us deliver our vision of building strong communities where people are healthy and well."
The consultation, carried out by an independent company, will run from 30 January until 7 March. The findings will be presented to a future meeting of Cabinet, where it will be asked to make a final decision. Following that, if agreed, work would then start to implement any changes.
In the meantime, the council and South Tyneside Homes will be working closely and collaboratively to ensure that any transfer would be smooth and seamless.
Cllr Richard Porthouse, Chair of South Tyneside Homes' Board, said: "We remain fully committed to the delivery of excellent housing services for our customers, and we will continue to support them throughout this process."