Council in housing transfer consultation

ONE of Suffolk's smallest councils is one of 17 local authorities in England that have been given the Government go-ahead to consult their tenants about plans to transfer their homes to a not-for-profit social landlord.

ONE of Suffolk's smallest councils is one of 17 local authorities in England that have been given the Government go-ahead to consult their tenants about plans to transfer their homes to a not-for-profit social landlord.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has announced the list, which involves almost 3,000 council houses in Forest Heath and more than 125,000 nationwide.

The green light means the authority can now press ahead with formal consultation of all its tenants about the proposed transfer to a housing association formed as part of the Flagship Housing Group.

Forest Heath is hoping to send every tenant a formal "offer" document later in the summer, which will outline all the details of the transfer including the repairs and modernisation programme, how their rights will be protected and rents kept affordable.

Council staff will attempt to visit every tenant in the district to discuss the proposals and answer any questions.

Richard Radcliffe, Head of Community Services for the council, said: "We are delighted that the Government has recognised the quality of our submission and has given us the go-ahead to formally consult our tenants on the transfer proposal.

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"The council strongly believes that transfer is the best way forward for our tenants and the housing service. It's the only way we can unlock money needed to maintain and improve our homes, improve the repairs service and have the resources to deal with key priorities such as improving estate environments and better security."

This week the Havebury Housing Partnership, which took on the 5,800 homes previously owned by neighbouring St Edmundsbury Borough Council, celebrated its first birthday.

To mark the occasion it completed its 5,000th home improvement. Terry Clements, board chairman of Havebury, said he was delighted the organisation had been able to achieve so much in only a year.

"The tenants put their trust in us and we have worked hard to deliver for them. There is still a lot to do but we intend to do even more this year on the improvements programmes, building new homes and through our community regeneration work," he said.

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