Campaigners vow to fight over Ashfield Homes

CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight for the future of Ashfield Homes as councillors consider whether to scrap the organisation to save cash.

Council properties in Ashfield are currently owned by the district council and managed by Ashfield Homes, an arms-length and not-for-profit company.

But next month councillors will be asked to consider cancelling the management agreement with Ashfield Homes, effectively scrapping the organisation and bringing housing stock back under the council’s direct control.

Campaigner and former Ashfield Homes chairman Pat Simms said it would be a ‘disaster’ should councillors vote to ditch Ashfield Homes and vowed to petition residents for support.

“This decision is about people’s lives - not money. The tenants pay their rent and have the right to live in a decent home.

“I will do whatever it takes to make the council see that getting rid of Ashfield Homes is not the right decision for tenants.”

Ashfield Homes currently employs around 200 people and provides services to more than 7,000 tenants.

Since it began trading in 2002, the company has received two ‘excellent’ three-star ratings following independent inspections.

Ms Simms said Ashfield District Council would be losing a ‘service to be proud of’ if councillors vote to shut it down.

“Although there have been issues (with the service), Ashfield Homes has delivered a three-star excellent service in the past and that is not something the council should be throwing away.”

Chairman of Ashfield Tenants and Residents’ Association Doreen Savage said people were worried scrapping Ashfield Homes would mean they received poorer service.

“I have been a tenant under Ashfield Homes and Ashfield District Council and I was also an employee of both organisations. The service provided by Ashfield Homes was better.

“My heart lies with the tenants who are pensioners. I have seen the ways older people can be mistreated.”

Teena Needham, of Sutton Tenants and Residents’ Association, said similar arms-length firms were having their futures secured and extended.

“The level of service, tenant satisfaction, and provision of excellence across the company seems to me to be all very good reasons to keep Ashfield Homes,” she added.

The vote will follow the release of an independent report commissioned by the council to aid the decision.

Selston councillor Gail Turner said Ashfield Homes needed to be reviewed following recent funding cuts.

“It is time that we had a look at Ashfield Homes because we are living in a time where money is tight,” she said.

“They must be scrutinised in the same way departments of the district council should be scrutinised.”

The council is required to give Ashfield Homes 12 months’ notice should councillors vote to scrap the management agreement. Councillors will vote at their meeting on 28th June.