Friday, 8 October 2010


Thanet District Council has approved plans to set up an “arms length management organisation” (ALMO) with three other East Kent councils to manage their council housing services.

Councillors were told last night (Thursday 7 October) that a 12 week consultation with tenants and leaseholders in Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet over the summer had seen nearly 10,000 people take part across the four areas.

It is estimated that the ALMO would make savings of £1.5 million over the next few years and possibly more in the longer term, through improved repairs contracts and bringing together administrative services. This money, by law, has to be re-invested into improving council housing services. The plans also mean greater access to services on weekends and evenings, with more involvement for tenants and leaseholders in how things are run and the standard of service they receive.

One of the questions people were asked was whether they thought it was a good idea for their council to work with others in East Kent to run their council housing services. In Thanet, 64% of tenants and leaseholders who responded said yes, while 24% were not sure and only 12% said no. The second question asked if tenants and leaseholders supported the proposal of their council joining with the other three in East Kent to form the ALMO to run their council housing services. In response, 63% of those who responded in Thanet said yes, while 22% were not sure and only 15% said no.

Of the four councils, Thanet was the only one that had retained a recommendation to review the matter of a ballot, once the results of the consultation were known. This suggestion came from the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel and it was agreed that Council would review this after the consultation had finished. The council’s Cabinet felt that a ballot should not be held, as the consultation results did not justify doing this. This was agreed by Council last night (Thursday 7 October).

Cllr. Chris Wells, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “I’m delighted to see this project moving forward, in line with the wishes of the many tenants and leaseholders in East Kent who took the time to have their say in our extensive consultation. People had many opportunities to give their views, with road shows, telephone surveys, postal surveys and individual visits to people’s homes. That led to a good response rate and one which we would be proud to have in a local election.

“Having carried out such an extensive consultation, there was no justification for holding a ballot as well. As the report we were presented with clearly showed, any delay in holding a ballot would effectively mean Thanet being dropped from the project, as the other three councils would be unlikely to wait for us. This could have meant increased risk of redundancy for housing staff, with jobs already allocated at the ALMO, and additional costs for more communication and consultation. That’s not what we wanted to see happening.”

A section 27 application will now be submitted to the Tenant Services Authority. If they approve the plans, the four councils will be asked in December 2010 or January 2011 to consider more detail about how the ALMO will operate and make the final decision to delegate services to the new organisation.

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