Time to vote for housing candidates

LETTERS are being sent to more than 50,000 Sheffield tenants and leaseholders asking for nominations for a new group to help decide how the city's council estates should be managed when Sheffield Homes' contract ends in 2014.

The role of the tenant-led city wide Advisory Group will be to help the council design a fair consultation process, monitor how it carries out the work, and represent the interests of tenants and leaseholders.

The council is looking at whether the estates currently looked after by Sheffield Homes could be managed differently to provide better services and more value for money.

Coun Penny Baker, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: "The interest shown by tenants and leaseholders in being part of this group has been very impressive - that is why we are holding a vote.

"I would urge everyone to vote for who they think will best represent them on the group.

"Although they will not make any decisions about the future of council housing, they will have an important role to play in ensuring we get the views of all tenants and leaseholders over the next 12 months."

Sheffield Homes has been criticised by the Audit Commission for not collecting enough rent, but given an "excellent" rating overall. Inspectors found the company was owed 10 million, and slow to respond to complaints.

The Advisory Group will be made up of two tenant representatives from each of the six housing areas, as well as two sheltered housing and two leaseholder representatives.

Residents in the central housing area will not be asked to vote because, as only two people there applied to join the Advisory Group, they have been selected automatically.

People have until midday on January 21 to vote, and can return the ballot paper enclosed with the letter by post or to a local library, or vote by text or email.

Log on to www.sheffield.gov.uk/planningthefuture for more information about the Planning the Future of Council Housing project.

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