Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Call-in of Tadworth estate stock transfer

The decision of the Cabinet to transfer housing stock on the Tadworth Estate to Raven Housing Association has been called in by all the three Merton Park Residents and Labour housing spokesperson Mark Betteridge. The decision will now go before the Regeneration and Public Realm Panel on Tuesday 10th July where the call-in request will be considered further.

Full details are below.

Title of the decision
Key decision 441 - Transfer of the housing stock on the Tadworth estate

Which principle(s) of the decision-making has not been followed?
Cabinet recommends to Council (cabinet 25 June - Agenda item 8) the transfer of the housing stock on the Tadworth estate to Raven Housing Trust. But the transfer on the terms proposed will result in the loss of nomination rights over 25% of the properties ie. 41 properties. This crucial aspect of the transfer is alluded to in only one line of the report (p.143).

The decision fails to accord with the following principles of decision making:
(a) proportionality - the decision secures advantages for one stakeholder group (current tenants) at the expense of another stakeholder group (applicants on the housing waiting list), failing to evidence balanced and proportionate consideration for all those affected by the decision.
(b) due consultation - applicants on the housing waiting list have not been consulted, despite their chances of finding a home being reduced by the withdrawal of nomination rights to 41 properties.
(c) respect for equalities - applicants on the waiting list include some of the more vulnerable members of Merton's community, and BME applicants.
(d) presumption in favour of openness - while other aspects of the terms of the transfer eg. enhanced spending on improvements to tenants' properties and reductions in rents, have been publicised widely, there has been no public or cross party discussion of the loss of nomination rights
(e) consideration of alternatives - nomination rights have a value, yet the report fails to consider whether some or all of these rights could be retained in exchange for a lower capital receipt, or offset against the valuation of commercial properties on the estate.

Reason for the call-in and desired outcome
The report fails to evidence how the decision is consistent with the Council's Housing Policy, or how the loss of nomination rights will be compensated to ensure the Business Plan commitment to "Increase the supply of affordable housing" is to be met. It is essential that full consideration be given to alternative terms of transfer before proposals are recommended to Council and negotiation with Raven Housing Trust commence.

Witnesses requested
• Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration
• Head of Housing
• Chief Executive from Raven Housing
Specific information/ documents requested
• All written correspondence and e-mails between Cabinet Members and Officers in relation to the transfer of the Tadworth housing stock
• All written correspondence and e-mails between Cabinet Members /Officers and Raven Housing Trust in relation to the transfer of the Tadworth housing stock
• Minutes of Leaders Policy Group meetings pertaining to transfer of Tadworth housing stock

Councillors Mark Betteridge, Karin Forbes, Peter Southgate and Krysia Williams


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