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Councillors argued against scrapping South Essex Homes
COUNCILLORS argued against plans to scrap the council’s housing manager.
South Essex Homes looks after Southend Council’s 6,000 homes but in the face of Government cuts, council officers said bringing the service back in-house could save cash.
A report presented to a special meeting of the community services and culture scrutiny meeting said if it was scrapped it could free up millions of pounds to be spent on other schemes including building new council housing.
However councillors spoke against getting rid of the organisation altogether and praised its work over the last seven years. They raised concerns that standards would slip.
David Norman (Lab, Victoria) has been a board member of South Essex Homes for the last seven years.
He said: “I think it is clear from the discussion we all recognise housing is one of the most important issues facing the council.
“I spoke and voted against setting up the organisation but I have got to say my experience did change my view over the years. As a councillor representing the ward with the largest number of council properties I saw how bad the service was prior to the setting up of South Essex Homes. Our record of dealing with our tenants prior to 2005 was abysmal.
“I would be totally opposed to the total dismantling of South Essex Homes.”
A review of South Essex Homes, which was set up in October 2005, was started earlier this year as the council struggles to save more than £30million over the next three years.
By getting rid of South Essex Homes officers say the council could save up to £886,000 a year just by sharing backroom services, such as payroll and IT support.
Martin Terry (Ind, Westborough) said it was right the council looked at ways to save money.
He said: “I feel we should go back and do a lot more work. I agree totally the residents should be consulted. We can’t see any drop in service - whatever we do.”
A decision on the future of South Essex Homes will not be made until a meeting later this year.