Row over council house stock vote

Cllr Harry Harpham, cabinet member for homes and regeneration
Cllr Harry Harpham, cabinet member for homes and regeneration
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TENANTS are being ‘misled’ ahead of a ballot over whether Sheffield’s housing estates should return to council control, a board member of management company Sheffield Homes has claimed.

Jose Derrick, aged 67, of Longley, said campaigners who want arms-length management organisation Sheffield Homes scrapped have not given the city’s 42,000 tenants ‘the full picture’.

He also claims leaflets published by the council do not list the achievements of Sheffield Homes.

The vote over whether to keep Sheffield Homes – rated the best housing management company in the country – or return housing stock to council control takes place in February.

Jose said: “It is very important people are not misled by untruths.

“Campaigners say rents will rise more with Sheffield Homes – no they won’t. The council not Sheffield Homes decides the rents, the council has to follow government policy.

“They claim services will be cut by Sheffield Homes – no they won’t. Council housing services in Sheffield are the best in the country with Sheffield Homes being awarded the top three-star rating three times by the Audit Commission. No other organisation in the UK has achieved this standard.

“They claim housing will be privatised – no it won’t. The council has decided council housing will not be privatised and that is the end of the matter.

“And they ask who controls Sheffield Homes? It is simply not true to claim the board is unelected. Tenants lead Sheffield Homes. Seven tenants are on the board.

“I was elected by a ballot of all tenants in the city. Some 6,669 tenants voted for me to join the board – a lot more than any city councillor can claim.”

Jose added: “By voting to retain Sheffield Homes tenants will continue to receive excellent services through an organisation they lead and control.”

Coun Harry Harpham, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “I have always recognised what a good job Sheffield Homes does.

“The important thing is the future and I am confident savings of £1.2 million a year could be made by bringing management back in house.

“The vote is about how we manage homes in the future in the most efficient way,” he said.