Edwinstowe councillors slam Newark and Sherwood District Council rent hike

EDWINSTOWE’S district councillors have written to residents in the village opposing what they claim is a ‘morally wrong’ housing rent hike introduced by Kelham Hall.

Labour councillors John Peck and Celia Brooks say Conservative-controlled Newark & Sherwood District Council’s decision to raise charges by 8.72 per cent is unjustified in difficult economic times.

The decision was agreed by the authority’s cabinet last month and council chiefs insist it is in line with new Government policy, will balance the books and keep its housing stock in good repair.

But Coun Peck and Coun Brooks say that taking the decision in cabinet meant the decision was a ‘done deal’ and denied them an opportunity to put an alternative in full council.

Coun Peck said: “We are totally against this rise, especially at a time when people in Edwinstowe and elsewhere have had above inflation rises in fuel, food, transport, petrol: all the essentials.

“Pensioners are finding it hard and people in work are on pay freezes or in fear for their jobs. It is not fair when some people are being paid millions in bonuses.”

Conservative leaders at the council say the rise is a result of changes in the way the Government manages council house funding and unavoidable.

Cabinet member for health and homes, Coun Bruce Laughton, said: “It is unfortunate that we are being forced to increase our rent levels, in line with Government policy, but by implementing this increase now, future increases should be less drastic so we can continue to manage and maintain tenants’ homes to the standards they expect.”

In the past, rent surplus collected nationally was placed in a pot and redistributed to councils based on a complicated formula.

Now councils will be able to keep the rent they collect and decide exactly how they will use it for modernising, maintaining and managing housing stock.

By adopting the policy and buying itself out of the housing subsidy system, the council says it is ensuring this annual drain on finances going to the Government can be spent locally on improving and managing homes for its tenants.