Ballot a cause for controversy

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THE vote on the future of Sheffield’s council housing has caused controversy - with claims tenants were not given full information or the chance to choose between all options.

Before losing power last May, Liberal Democrats had been planning to hold an ‘open’ ballot, asking residents to vote on all options, including transfer of estates to housing associations, as happened in 2003.

During that vote, some estates, including Norfolk Park, Shiregreen, Wybourn and Wisewood, voted for permanent transfer out of Sheffield Council’s control.

The remainder chose to move to Sheffield Homes, which would manage estates ,although ownership would stay with the council.

When Labour took over in May, it decided against asking tenants about transfer to housing associations and hold the ballot on just two options.

Coun Julie Dore, council leader, said she did not want more social housing removed from council control, because she fears the Government could allow profit-making private firms to take over estates - no such plans exist at present and housing associations are run as charities.

Ahead of the tenants’ ballot, further controversy was caused because, while the council was allowed to make its case for why management should revert to its control, Sheffield Homes was not allowed to defend its record.