Wednesday, 8 January 2014

HANDS OFF THE FAMILY SILVER

PRESS STATEMENT


If councils build 
houses
they should hang on to them



Councils can build houses once again and if any are built in Carlisle, the city council should  learn a lesson and keep hold of  them  as it would with ” family silver”, says a community group today.

The city  has a long record of building – it built houses for more than 100 years until  Riverside Housing Association of Liverpool bought the lot- 7200 homes- eleven years ago

Riverside is now imposing soaring rents and extra charges says the group, Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation.

This is  a cause of hardship  for many people on the city estates- the hardship  has been highlighted in the local press. At the same time, Riverside`s coffers are bulging.

“Riverside has given no explanation  for these outrageous rents and charges and,  amazingly,  it is not obliged to,” says  a letter to the city council.

“The money being raised is not benefitting the city which created these houses but  is in fact helping to boost the reserves (profits) of Riverside, a giant property development company 100 miles away.

“Riverside`s reserves  soared 41 per cent in the last financial  year from £22 million to £32 million. This situation is unacceptable”, says  the  letter .

The letter calls on the council
 to ensure that Riverside
is transparent and
 accountable in its dealings
 with  the public.
Embedded image permalink
George Osborne visits newly weds Emily and Nick.
 In his Autumn Statement he announced
 a limited relaxation of the cap 

on local authority borrowing to finance
 10,000 new 
social homes

 “The city deserves nothing less, given its long and proud record of building houses –selling out to Riverside was like selling the family silver” said a Federation spokesman.

“If the council builds houses again, the council should say: `Hands off the family silver`”.

Permission to build council houses again was announced by the Chancellor, Mr George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.
               



HERE IS A COPY OF THE FEDERATION LETTER TO CARLISLE CITY COUNCIL ADDRESSED TO MR JASON GOODING,THE COUNCIL`S CHIEF EXECUTIVE


I am writing about a Cumberland News article  in the issue of December 20 2013 which highlighted severe hardship being experienced by Botcherby families caused by low pay and rising debt.

Subsequent to that article, a letter from the Federation in the current issues of that newspaper (dated January 3 2014) pointed out that one of the principal causes of this hardship was Riverside Carlisle`s soaring rents.

The letter said that in the course of a year, these rents had increased by thirty per cent more than the equivalent rents in Barrow (a similar sized Cumbria town) where the council houses had remained in the ownership of the local authority.

The letter also said that additional to Riverside`s increased rents, tenants were now being charged extras for  many varied “services”, such as for cleaning. These extra charges add another 12 per cent to a typical rent.

You will understand that Carlisle Tenants` and Residents Federation is very concerned about these increased rents and  extra charges, particularly as there has been no transparent explanation for the increases and charges nor does Riverside Carlisle appear to be accountable to give any explanation for the  increases and charges.

File:Carlisle Council Offices.jpg
Carlisle Civic Centre....fifty years old this year...but
 it no longer administers the ci
ty`s social houses
This Riverside failure to act with transparency  and accountability, you will recall, was the principal reason for the many  complaints by the Federtion  to your council over a period of many months and even years as attempts were made via a  considerable number of letters, emails, lobbying and other meetings,  to bring these issues to your council`s attention.
.
You will also be aware that the government has similar concerns about issues of transparency and accountability in public bodies, particularly in the present climate of financial  stringency.

You will also be aware of the moral rights of today`s Carlisle taxpayers in this matter which have frequently been brought to your council`s attention i.e. that the 7200  former Carlisle council houses sold to Riverside were built and paid for by the ratepayers and taxpayers of  the city over a period of more than a century,

Similar sales have famously been described as “selling off the family silv



It now appears that Riverside`s soaring rents and extra charges which are helping to cause hardship for families on the city estates, far from benefitting the city which created these houses are  in fact helping to boost the reserves(profits) of Riverside. 

These reserves in the last financial year soared 41 per cent, from £22 million to £32 million.This situation is unacceptable.

The Federation considers that all the matters outlined in this letter  should be brought to the council`s attention and ask you please to do this, particularly in view of the possibility of  a return to council house building in the city following the Chancellor of the Exchequer`s Autumn Statement.

The Federation also urges the council to ensure more protection for the family silver in future.The Federation therefore urges that if more Carlisle council houses are built they will remain firmly in council ownership.  



Community Voice Carlisle is the blog of Carlisle Tenants and Residents Federation. Information about the Federation is available on the first post of this blog, dated March 25 2013.