Ashfield council to protect over 55s from “nuisance tenants”

Ashfield District Council is to form a cross-party working group to ensure there is social housing made available “solely for the over 55’s”.

It comes as Councillor Lee Anderson, Conservative member for Huthwaite and Brierley, continues to push for protection for a number of residents who he claims are being bothered by “nuisance tenants”.

Resident Jasmine Clifford outside a  fire damaged flat on Willow Crescent  Sutton on December 29 2018.

Resident Jasmine Clifford outside a fire damaged flat on Willow Crescent Sutton on December 29 2018.

The Huthwaite councillor proposed a motion to Ashfield District Council’s full council calling for members to form the cross-party group, which it was claimed would “ensure a reduced risk of ASB towards our elderly tenants”.

The skeleton of the motion was passed and unanimously supported.

READ MORE: Councillor calls on council to stop letting OAP flats to nuisance tenants

Coun Anderson said: “The idea of social housing was first created by Clement Attlee on the basis of suitability rather than need, and I think he would be turning in his grave if he knew what they had turned into.

“Tenants with a history of nuisance behaviour, drug use and no intention of integrating normally in society are moving into the properties as some of the former tenants die - based on need rather than suitability.

“Imagine getting to retirement age moving into a retirement house for the over 55’s, to then be greeted with banging noise, the smell of weed and violence.

“I genuinely fear for some of our over 55’s in these homes.

“The people are prolific nuisances who we need to sort out for the protection of our elderly residents who want to live in peace.”

However as part of the debate councillors also voted on an amendment to the motion, proposed by Labour’s Coun Cathy Mason, which was narrowly passed after chairwoman Coun. Glenys Maxwell cast her deciding vote in favour.

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The amendment read:

“The council to review its’ Age designation of housing, by the formation of a cross party working group, preferably to work in conjunction with the scrutiny panel review into the Lettings and Tenancy Agreement reviews already added to the 2019/20 work plan as of meeting Tuesday 5th January, to prevent duplication as the various policies are intrinsically linked, therefore doing everything possible to ensure there is accommodation available solely for the over 55’s. This should ensure a reduced risk of ASB toward our vulnerable residents going a long way to reduce their stress and anxiety.”

The amendment implies that the council does not currently have a “housing policy” as suggested in the Anderson motion, with Coun Mason proposing the wording change to “prevent confusion” moving forward.

She did, however, agree with the motion itself.

Speaking on the amendment, Labour councillor John Knight said: “I think we all agree the need for the working party to sort out this issue.

“The problem is that council officers don’t put people into a tenancy as a nuisance - it is not until they move in that we found out they are a nuisance.”

“Which ever way we vote, it is clear that we need to protect the tenants in these over 55 blocks.”

Labour’s Lachlan Morrison added that the council should consider the needs of other sections of society, such as single families, when looking at social housing.

Coun Jason Zadrozny, council leader, described the amendment as “grammatically inept”.