Claim thousands of council tenants 'left in the dark' over developments across Sheffield

Mick Daniels.
Mick Daniels.
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Thousands of council tenants are being left in the dark over important developments affecting their homes since a community newsletter was closed down.

That is the claim of Brushes Tenants And Residents' Association, which is one of the longest established groups in the city having served the Firth Park area for decades.

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During a recent meeting, group members told how the council's In Touch magazine used to be delivered quarterly to as many as 42, 000 tenants bringing them news of important developments.

But they claimed council bosses suddenly discontinued it about two years ago due to 'funding cuts'.

The meeting heard that the publication was useful for featuring key contacts and giving details of such things as dates for improvement works to homes that are not usually published by larger media outlets.

The meeting heard that residents were surprised recently when council representatives turned up unannounced on their doorsteps to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

TARA members said people would previously have been made aware of this through In Touch and would have been able to make arrangements to ensure they are at home for the works to be completed.

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Group chairman Mick Daniels said: "People feel a bit left in the dark. There will be times when people miss out on improvement works simply because they weren't aware and were not in when the council called."

Members were also critical of a new newsletter circulated by the council called Your TARA News.

Mr Daniels said: "In Touch used to get delivered through your door but we just get Your TARA News on an email to our office.

"Not everybody has access to a computer and we as a TARA don't have the means to print off hundreds of copies and deliver them, so a lot of people may be missing out.

He also claimed the content in the new publication is not up to scratch.

The 69-year-old added: "There was something in the latest one about nine facts about potatoes and how to cook them.

"Would it not have been better to put in details about Universal Credit, which will change the way people get benefits, and has caused a lot of concern?"

The group called for In Touch to be re-instated.

A Sheffield Council spokeswoman said the last issue of In Touch was sent out in January 2017 but as this was quarterly sometimes some of the information contained was "out of date" by the time it reached residents.

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he added the production of the magazine was "paused" while officials "evaluate how to best communicate with tenants and leaseholders" and the outcome will be shared with residents.

The spokeswoman said Your TARA News did not replace InTouch and instead replaced a previous ebulletin called The Bridge.

She said TARAs are encouraged to share the ebulletin with tenants and added sending content digitally means they can get "the most up to date information possible" to TARAs.

The spokeswoman stressed that information about works to properties is always communicated to residents via letters, meetings or in person.

She said a story about Universal Credit was recently featured in the ebulletin and said the article about potatoes gave important information about saving money and how to get the most out of food resources.