Sunday, 12 May 2013

The cost of Riverside...and the costs! `Carlisle tenants now pay the price`

 * Rents in Carlisle`s former council houses are now twenty per cent higher than similar-sized houses  in Barrow.

* The Carlisle houses are owned by Riverside Housing Association after a stock transfer 10 years ago. The houses in Barrow are still owned by the council.

* At the stock transfer Riverside promised to reduce the cost of the Carlisle`s  housing. After ten years and massive rent rises Riverside has greatly increased the cost. There have been no similar increases in Barrow.

* What is going on? And why can members the public not get to know?

These are some of the points made by Malcolm Craik of Brampton in letters to the Editor of the Cumberland News in Carlisle. The letters have yet to be published.

Malcolm is a member of the Federation. He is also a former member of the governing board of Riverside`s Carlisle Housing Association. Malcolm has also sent the  letters for publication  on this blog.

 Here they are:

To the Editor of the Cumberland News

This is a resubmission of a letter I sent some weeks ago.  I feel it is in the public interest that this issue be given publicity in the light of the massive rent increases that have taken place under Riverside's management of the City's housing stock since 2002.

 Riverside's rents are now some 20% higher than those of similar council house rents in Barrow in Furness and newly created 'service charges' can add a further £6 per week to that figure.

In view of the fact that a considerable proportion of Riverside's rental income comes from housing benefit paid for by City Council charge payers it is only right that councillor Joe Hendry explains how he is dealing with the conflict of interest he has as a direct result of his role on the board of Riverside.

Members of the public have a right to know why they are paying more as a result of the stock transfer when the driving concept of the transfer to Riverside was that it would reduce the cost of social housing to the City.

It has increased costs and reduced housing choice and stock. These should be matters of public interest.

To the  Editor of the Cumberland News

Carlisle`s housing stock mismatch leaves tenants in a quandary

During last August’s News and Star webcast with City Council leader Joe Hendry I asked him if there would be fewer conflicts of interest in his Council duties if he gave up his outside interests in organisations such as Riverside Carlisle Housing Association. 

He replied that if he ever came to that conclusion he would do so, and stated that he believed that he had helped many people in Carlisle with their housing problems because he was a member of the Riverside board. He added that if he was unable in the future to give such help he would leave the board.

Since that webcast Riverside has confirmed plans to remove yet more one bedroomed property from the City’s housing stock. This comes at a time when benefit reforms are forcing many tenants to downsize their accommodation and move to other communities within the district.

Riverside’s Divisional Director Patrick Leonard stated in the News & Star on 26 February 2013 that Riverside’s plans were driven by housing policy, not welfare policy, and that therefore they were no proposals for one bedroomed flats.

 His comments will provide little comfort for those tenants who found themselves in desperate need of smaller affordable accommodation in April.

Does Councillor Hendry believe he can help those tenants caught in the benefit reduction trap as a direct result of Riverside’s failure to match its housing stock with current housing need; and if he cannot help them with their housing problems will he leave the Riverside board as he promised?

Information about the Federation and Carlisle South Community Association is contained in the first entry of this bog, dated March 25.

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