Protesters want council to take control of homes

Defend Council Housing Protest . Members of the Sheffield branch of the Defend Council Housing movement protesting outside of the Archers Project Campo Lane .

Defend Council Housing Protest . Members of the Sheffield branch of the Defend Council Housing movement protesting outside of the Archers Project Campo Lane .

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CAMPAIGNERS held a demonstration calling on Sheffield’s tenants to back a return to council management of their homes.

Members of the Defend Council Housing group made their plea ahead of a ballot of the city’s 42,000 tenants about whether they should remain with management firm Sheffield Homes.

The campaigners claim up to £3 million could be saved by the move, because it would end ‘duplication of management services’.

Shirley Frost, of the group, said: “Ballot papers have started falling through the letter boxes of Sheffield Council tenants, asking them if they want management of their homes to go back to the council.

“This was the case before the council set up the arms-length management organisation (ALMO) Sheffield Homes to deliver the Decent Homes refurbishment programme, whose contract ends in 2014.

“There is no more government money available for Decent Homes, so there is no need to keep Sheffield Homes going.

“Keeping Sheffield Homes means spending money on duplication of management services.

“By voting for the council, elected councillors would be directly accountable to tenants for management, instead of unelected, independent directors ruled by company law.”

The campaigners also spoke out against the large increase in rents, of 7.8 per cent, to come into force in 2012/13.

The council said it was proceeding with a ballot on just two options – continue with Sheffield Homes or revert to council management – because tenants rejected the transfer of homes to a housing association when last balloted in 2004.

Coun Harry Harpham, cabinet member for housing, said: “Every indication I have received during my time as a councillor, whether speaking to individuals or tenants’ groups, is there is no appetite in Sheffield for stock transfer. We have received an overwhelming response from tenants who do not want to see their homes sold off.”

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