Message from Stephen Jacobs OBE, Chair of the Old Ford Housing Association
The Old Ford Housing Association Board, which is made up of local residents and independent members, has spent the last seven months considering who our future landlord should be, following the merger last year between Circle Housing Group and Affinity Sutton to form Clarion Housing Group.
These discussions were triggered, in part, by the very poor repairs and other services that we had received from Circle Housing.
In our examination of the options for Old Ford, we have paid particular attention to the following five questions:
Our conclusions on the options were:
1 Could we become an independent Housing Association?
We decided this was not financially viable. It would be very difficult to raise enough money from banks and other financial organisations to become independent.
2 Could we return to the Council as our landlord?
Given public spending reductions and other demands on its resources, the Council does not have the resources to buy back and where necessary improve the stock so this is not currently an option.
3 Should we merge with another local Housing Association?
Merging with another housing association would put at risk improvements to the service and would require serious borrowing by a local housing association.
4 Should we agree to stay with Clarion Housing Group
Clarion is working hard to improve the repairs and maintenance services to Old Ford residents and has short, medium and long term plans in place to ensure tenants receive consistently good services. In addition Clarion has agreed to carry out the Old Ford promises; increase further investment in existing properties and new homes locally and to set up a new Community Panel to involve residents in decision-making. This will include regular meetings to look at local performance; playing a role in deciding on when and where community and neighbourhood investment activities should take place; advising Clarion on local priorities; undertake scrutiny activities and involvement in the way local services are designed.
After lengthy discussion the Board feels that the Old Ford Housing Association should remain with the Clarion Housing Group and that they should merge. This will not affect your tenancy terms or the rent you pay.
The Board is confident that the merger is the best way to improve services. We have seen recent evidence of this in the way that call handling has improved and the way in which complaints are now being handled and resolved in a timely manner. The Board also considers that Clarion would be best placed to deliver a directly employed repairs service if residents want. They have experience of this working well within their existing homes.
The Board will make our final decision at our November meeting. To help us decide, we want to hear your views.
An independent residents’ advisor, Communities First, has been appointed to talk to as many Old Ford tenants as possible during a six week consultation. As soon as it has finished, they will report your views to the Board so that we can take them into account.
This booklet explains how you can have your say. Please do take this opportunity to tell us what you think about the proposal.