TENANTS have called for an independent government inquiry into the way social housing is run in Brighton and Hove after a body holding the city council’s housing team to account was scrapped to save money.
Residents involved in the biennial City Assembly have passed a vote of no confidence to call for an independent inquiry into the decision to get rid of the council’s housing management consultative sub-committee.
With the support of Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby, residents have written to the government calling for the move.
With 83% of the 68 people at the biennial City Assembly supporting the motion, those behind it claimed they were speaking for the majority of the city’s 14,000 tenants and leaseholders.
But Bill Randall, chairman of the council’s housing committee, said: “I understand the emotions behind the motion, but it paints an inaccurate picture of the city’s housing service and, particularly, tenant involvement.
“We are strongly committed to involving our 11,500 tenants and 2,800 leaseholders in everything we do as a landlord.”
John Melson, who proposed the motion, said there had been growing distrust and dissatisfaction among tenants in recent months.
He added this came to a head when Green and Labour councillors voted to scrap the sub-committee as part of a reorganisation – while saving £16,000 a year.
Mr Melson, of Wiltshire House in Lavender Street, Brighton, said: “It’s not like I went round rounding up the votes. Coun Randall is failing to realise that he helped create these problems.”
In response, Cllr Randall said the move to scrap the committee was voted through at two town hall committees by a majority of democratically-elected councillors.
He added there were nearly 70 groups run by elected representatives in the city which dealt with social housing issues.
Coun Randall said this was in addition to a further 2,000 residents who were surveyed thanks to a drive to connect via social media; and a Tenants’ Scrutiny Panel, which was introduced by the Greens to independently scrutinise any aspect of the housing department’s work.
On value for money, Coun Randall said the council’s housing team were recently assessed by an outside body who said they were good value for money.
He added: “I look forward to working with all tenants in the future.”