Retaining Ashfield Homes is ‘missed opportunity’

.Gail Turner  at the Ashfield  local elections
.Gail Turner at the Ashfield local elections

WHILE the majority of Ashfield District councillors have shown their support for Ashfield Homes, Independent councillor Gail Turner said it should have been scrapped.

She argues that Ashfield Homes has not done enough to curb anti-social behaviour in the district.

She said: “I feel it is a missed opportunity to have these council houses back under our control so we can control what goes on and make sure anti-social behaviour is being dealt with because it’s not being with Ashfield Homes at the moment.”

Coun Turner said that the council could also have made savings by bringing council properties back under its control.

She said: “We could have saved a lot of money by bringing it back under our control. This is not just a matter for tenants, it’s a matter for everyone in Ashfield.”

The Selston councillor also criticised the fact that, in previous years, Ashfield Homes had given its staff bonuses and a Christmas party.

She said: “We had no control over (bonuses) whatsoever.

“Are we going to have more say on these parties and bonuses?”

But yesterday, Alex Rocke, who is the interim chief executive of Ashfield Homes, said that the organisation took the issue of anti-social behaviour ‘very seriously’.

He said: “We take court action in very serious cases. Where we can take a case to court it is usually in partnership with the police and sometimes the council.”

He acknowledges that anti-social behaviour is a cause for concern among tenants - and urged them to contact Ashfield Homes’ Stop Moanin’, Start Phonin’ hotline, which was launched earlier this year.

He added: “We try and use what powers we have and the relationships we have got with other agencies to address the situation and make it better not just for tenants but also for people living in the area.”

Meanwhile, Mr Rocke said that a ‘balance needed to be struck’ on issues such as payment of bonuses.

He said: “It is an arm’s length management organisation and the company has got freedom. But at the same time, the council owns the stock of houses and it is a partnership with the council.

“What we have done is work with the council to make sure they are happy with the way we are running the company and the most important thing is that the tenants are happy with the services they receive.”

He also said Ashfield Homes had made improvements to houses.

“That’s not to say we can’t get better. It is a two-way process and we meet regularly with the council. If the council is not happy we can talk about it and try and make things better.”