COUNCIL house repairs, refurbishments and customer services will be brought back in-house when the current 10-year contract ends.

The work for Brighton and Hove City Council is currently carried out by private contractor Mears, along with other related work on council houses and flats.

But the change will hit tenants in the pocket, according to Conservative members of the policy, resources and growth committee.

They tried to block the changes when the committee met at Hove Town Hall yesterday but Labour and Green councillors joined forces to push them through.

Conservative deputy leader Councillor Steve Bell, above, asked for the final decision to go before full council on Thursday.

He said: “The HRA (Housing Revenue Account) is a very important budget item. It is the tenants’ money that goes into this and we are responsible to them on how we spend it.”

He was defeated by Labour and the Greens.

A Conservative amendment would have put repairs and refurbishment work out to contract for five years. The money that will be spent setting the in-house service would have been used to fund council housing.

Neighbourhoods, communities and housing executive director Larissa Reed told the committee extensive consultation had been carried out with feedback from residents and costs by Savills.

Excellent customer services and value for money were key to make the programme a success, she said. There would be a strong focus on proactive maintenance of existing assets A budget of £112,000 is earmarked to cover setting up the new service and a reserve of £982,000 put by from the Housing Revenue Account.

One contract is going out to tender – for planned maintenance and improvements to council housing stock. Major and specialist works will also be carried out by contractors.