ALMO chief vanishes as council takeover looms
The chief executive of the England’s largest arm’s-length management organisation has not been at work for almost two months.
Peter Morton, chief executive of Sheffield Homes, which manages 42,000 homes for Sheffield Council, has been off work since around mid-May without explanation to councillors and tenants.
A Labour councillor asked about the reasons for Mr Morton’s absence at an interim board meeting on 21 June, and a Liberal Democrat councillor asked again on 4 July, but on both occasions the question went unanswered. He was last present at a Sheffield Homes board meeting on 16 May.
It is understood that Mr Morton’s absence is related to the decision to bring social housing back under the wings of the city council. In February, tenants and residents overwhelmingly voted in favour of the local authority managing their homes.
The original plan was to wind up Sheffield Homes in 2014. But in a letter sent to tenants and residents in May, the council said the plan is now to bring the date forward to next April.
On 4 July, Liberal Democrat councillors submitted a question to a full council meeting about Mr Morton’s absence.
The response stated: ‘Any matters in relation to Sheffield Homes and its employees are dealt with by Sheffield Homes and therefore it is not for the council to comment on these matters. In addition we do not comment on individual circumstances.’
This prompted Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, to say:
‘Once again a fog of mystery and misinformation seems to have descended around Sheffield City Council.
‘With less than a year to go till the transfer this will come as a very bad omen for the thousands of tenants across Sheffield.
‘The council should be open and honest about the ongoing concerns over the transfer and current position of its chief executive of Sheffield Homes.’
Representatives of tenants’ and residents’ associations have also expressed concerns.
Tenant representative Shirley Frost said: ‘It will be hard for Mr Morton to regain people’s confidence and it looks like he is not going to be around when the ALMO is being brought back under the arms of Sheffield Council.’
A meeting between Mr Morton and representatives of the local authority and Sheffield Homes took place yesterday.
A spokesperson for Sheffield Homes said Mr Morton was ‘on leave’.
‘The dates and reasons for Mr Morton’s leave are personal to him and have been fully authorised by Sheffield Homes and Sheffield City Council.’
Directors Jon Lovibond, Janet Parry and Jonathan Shaw are currently heading up the ALMO.