Future of Sudbury and Hadleigh sheltered housing up for negotiation

Jan Osborne said a new contract with Orwell Housing would be most beneficial for tenants. Picture: P

Jan Osborne said a new contract with Orwell Housing would be most beneficial for tenants. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Talks over a new long term lease on sheltered housing in Babergh are to take place in a move council chiefs claim will provide a better service for tenants.

Orwell Housing Association has provided management and care services at Babergh District Council's sheltered housing properties since 2004.

The contract expires in March next year, prompting the council to consider re-tendering the contract, selling off the properties or negotiating a fresh deal with Orwell Housing.

At Thursday's cabinet meeting, plans for new negotiations with Orwell were approved, with the hopes of securing even better services for those tenants.

Conservative councillor Jan Osborne, cabinet member for housing, said: "Leasing will provide Babergh and the residents with some certainty of the future of provision.

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"We have successfully worked with Orwell Housing and they have a good reputation.

"They are fully supportive of this option and it will make it much easier to deliver with less disruption for residents."

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Council officers said the stability of the same provider would benefit those living in the council's sheltered housing schemes, and could unlock additional benefits such as extra resources.

Gavin Fisk, assistant director for housing, added: "They can provide more than we are currently paying for in terms of staffing levels. I suspect if we tendered the contract [out to other providers] the costs they would charge would increase significantly."

The council's sheltered housing schemes are William Wood House in Sudbury and Sydney Brown Court in Hadleigh, which if sold could generate between £2.5m and £3m each, although currently each brings in excess of £200,000 per year in income.

But Conservative cabinet member for economic growth, Michael Holt, said it was vital to establish whether now was the time to sell the properties if extensive work was needed on them that could cost the council money.

He said: "If there is heavy expenditure coming we need to be aware of that. We need to look at this for 10-15 years' time rather than just the next five years."

Negotiations will now begin with Orwell with proposals returning to Babergh's cabinet before any agreement is made.

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