An organisation set up to regenerate homes in a deprived part of Brighton has aspirations to take them over.

eb4u, which has been given £47.2 million of taxpayers' money over ten years to revamp east Brighton, is considering taking ownership and control of council homes on the estates.

In a leaked document obtained by The Argus, eb4u states: "We will be exploring further how eb4u Ltd might directly own and manage the housing stock in east Brighton (ie: become the registered social landlord) and the benefits that might be gained for the community for the extra investment."

Brighton and Hove City Council is consulting tenants over the possible sell-off or partial transfer of the city's 13,000 homes to a new landlord because it cannot afford to modernise them.

Every tenant in a council property will vote on whether they want to stay with the council or transfer to a not-for-profit housing association.

The eb4u board agreed the best option would be for homes in east Brighton to be transferred to a registered social landlord, which eb4u could become.

But some people in the eb4u area have questioned the proposal.

Hamish Mackenzie, who lives in Moulsecoomb, said: "eb4u running the housing stock would be a nightmare.

"They are five years into the ten-year scheme and as far as I can see they haven't really done anything.

"I think they're desperately trying to get their hands on the property so they have something which is sustainable when the money runs out."

Miriam Binder, who lives in Whitehawk, also questioned eb4u's bid.

She said: "Morally it's wrong. eb4u was set up to regenerate the estates, not take over their housing stock."

If tenants vote in favour of their homes being transferred out of council control, the council would select the most suitable social landlord or housing association to take over.

A council spokesman said: "We have just received a proposal from eb4u and we will be meeting their officers and looking into the viability of the proposal in the same way we are checking out other options for the future management of council homes in the city.

"A mix of options for different homes in different parts of the city is one possibility and we will consider eb4u's proposal as part of that work."

Phil Doyle, vice-chairman of the eb4u resident board, said: "It's not a secret. It's the tenants who will make a decision and if other companies want to go for it too, they can.

"Many of them are not-for-profit organisations and they are not in it to make money for stock holders.

"We are seen by some people as being on the wrong side of the fence, as adversaries. But we are trying to work with people and we want the best for people and regeneration."

Monday March 22, 2004