Council homes survey underway
CIVIC centre bosses are asking borough tenants in Ipswich whether they want to see their homes transferred to ownership by a housing association.But senior figures at Ipswich Borough Council are not expecting a rush away from local authority ownership.
CIVIC centre bosses are asking borough tenants in Ipswich whether they want to see their homes transferred to ownership by a housing association.
But senior figures at Ipswich Borough Council are not expecting a rush away from local authority ownership.
They are confident the overwhelming majority of tenants will want to retain the council as their landlords.
However there are fears that the government will insist on a transfer to a housing association eventually – whether the tenants want it or not.
The stock option survey is currently underway with the council's 8,500 tenants being asked what they would like to happen to their homes.
There are three options: staying as they are, being transferred to a housing association, being transferred to an "arm's length company" owned by the borough but operating as a separate body rather like Ipswich Buses.
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Borough deputy leader Liz Harsant, who is responsible for housing, did not expect there to be a great demand by tenants to move out of council control.
She said: "We're expecting about 95 per cent to vote to retain the status quo. To be honest the council has been a good landlord and most homes have been well-maintained.
"It looks as if most people will vote to retain the devil they know."
She said the survey results would not be binding on the council – but the borough would be unlikely to disregard them if they produced a clear message.
Mrs Harsant said: "We don't want to go directly against what our tenants want – but I wonder how long the government will allow us to retain our own housing stock."
All tenants have been sent survey forms, and they have until February 7 to return them to Civic Centre.
Sue Wythe, housing policy manager at the council, said even if the homes were transferred to a housing association, it would not mean a windfall for the council.
She said: "The money we received for that would go to pay off the debts that we have incurred with our ongoing improvement programme – there would be no crock of gold for us."