Social housing co-op given thumbs up
Tenants have given Rochdale Council the go-ahead to create England’s largest social housing co-operative.
Rochdale tenants voted overwhelmingly in favour for the transfer of 13,700 homes to arms-length management organisation Rochdale Boroughwide Housing last night, with more than three quarters of those who voted agreeing to the move.
The homes will officially transfer to RBH in March 2012.
Membership of the co-operative will be open to all tenants and employees of RBH and a representative body will be established to work with the board and decide on major strategic issues, including future development plans.
Speaking to Inside Housing directly after the vote, Gareth Swarbrick, chief executive of RBH, said: ‘There are huge challenges that the whole sector is facing, so we need to find new ways of doing things. We need to start involving frontline staff and tenants more.
‘The new governance structure will give them more of a role in making key decisions.’
The vote will result in a £169 million improvement programme for homes and estates in the first five years following the transfer.
RBH’s development programme includes around 100 units to be delivered as part of the Homes and Communities Agency’s affordable homes scheme, an allocation that was dependent on tenant approval of the transfer.
Colin Lambert, leader of Rochdale Council, said: ‘The council has believed from day one that any decision to transfer the homes should rest entirely with residents and now that they have made their choice we’ll be working hard to ensure a smooth transfer to RBH.’
Lynne Brosnan, chair of Rochdale’s tenants’ panel, added: ‘Tenants should be congratulated for making such a momentous decision. Now it is up to RBH to deliver the brighter co-operative future we have voted for.
‘The hard work begins now. The next few months will be spent preparing and making sure everything is in place for the transfer next year.’