Council tenants could rebel against homes sale

COUNCIL tenants are in danger of rebelling over the sale of their homes after feeling transfer is being rammed down their throats warns a confidential memo circulated to senior council officials. The shock claim – which also suggests tenants are heari

COUNCIL tenants in Fenland are in danger of rebelling over the sale of their homes after feeling transfer is being "rammed down their throats" warns a confidential memo circulated to senior council officials.

The claim – which also suggests tenants are "hearing too much of it" – is contained in a leaked to email to opponents of transfer.

Adrian Waite, the tenants’ independent advisor, also warns: "Tenants are being bulldozed.’ As a result they are becoming hostile to the idea."

His comments were circulated after he attended a meeting of 20-30 members of the Ivy Leaf Tenants Association in March, one of many tenants’ groups across Fenland debating the possible transfer.

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Mr Waite says "negative perceptions" he picked up at the meeting need dealing with effectively and quickly, and in advance of a further tenants meeting shortly in Wisbech.

He also believes some tenants believe "Fenland District Council is neglecting their duties as a landlord because of the proposed transfer."

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This, he explains, is became they feel the council is either spending all their time on the transfer or they are thinking that Roddons – the name of the new association earmarked to take over Fenland’s 4,000 council homes- can sort out all the problems after transfer.

Consequently, he believes, tenants feel the council’s attitude is "there is no need to do anything about them."

"The stock transfer at Kings Lynn and West Norfolk to Freebridge Housing Association is not perceived to be a success and promises are said not to have been kept," he says.

He is also concerned that only a small number of tenants from Fenland appear to have been involved in the stock transfer process.

And he feels the issue of "Roddons Shadow Board members are there to line their own pockets’" also needs tackling. He also points out that some tenants feel the shadow board members "were not appointed through an open’ option’"

Mr Waite said this week that his job remained that of providing independent to tenants "that means all tenants, on the one hand to tenants on the shadow board and also to all tenants in Fenland."

He said of the meeting in March: "Tenants expressed a variety of views about transfer, some supportive of the idea, whilst others thought there could be improvements to homes and neighbourhoods. Some were critical.

"I am not there to sell them stock transfer or oppose it. I am there to make sure they have fair, impartial information when it comes to the ballot and they have the opportunity to vote."

Mr Waite said the vote would be conducted by the Electoral Reform Society "who have good practice as how these things should be done."

But he personally did not feel the issue was being rammed down tenants throats "no, definitely not. But consultants have used the expressed information overload, although perhaps it’s better than tenants get less information than they want."

He said: "I think Fenland Council has got it just about right. Some say they are being deluged with information, others say not being told anything. Both are extremes, and there is a need for a balance."

Tim Mills, Fenland Council’s head of housing, said: "We have had a range of views expressed, many positive, some concerns and for a few people who have been to a number of events a feeling that we are repeating the same message.

"However, we know that there are people who still are not fully aware of the process which is why we continue to tour the district talking to people. We want to ensure that everybody has the facts before making up their mind."

He added: "Tenants present at the meeting have confirmed to me that the views highlighted by Adrian were expressed by two or three tenants and there were many positive comments"

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