Merton Council tenants vote for transfer

Merton Council has today announced that Merton’s tenants have voted to transfer the ownership and management of their homes to a new, local, not-for-profit housing association, Merton Priory Homes, which will be part of leading affordable housing provider Circle Anglia.

In a confidential postal ballot carried out by the independent organisation Electoral Reform Services, 53.2% of tenants voted in favour of transfer with 46.8% voting against. Overall there was a 60.5% turnout.

The council intends to transfer the ownership and management of the homes, as well as existing housing staff, to Merton Priory Homes at the end of March 2010. Until then, Merton Council will remain the landlord.

The council will now apply to the Secretary of State for consent to transfer. If approval is given, work can begin to create an effective, tenant-focused housing provider that will hit the ground running at the end of March next year. Highlights of the improvements promised by the new housing association include:

· Merton Priory Homes will invest £129 million plus on homes and estates over the first 10 years, and at least £383 million over 30 years. This includes £1.25 million on estates in the first two years of transfer

· Residents will decide how new Neighbourhood Improvement Budgets worth a total of £325,000 per year will be spent.

· A £1 million community fund will be available to invest in projects and initiatives across the borough.

Councillor Linda Scott, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Services, said:

“The yes vote shows that tenants have listened to the proposals and made an informed decision to transfer. We are delighted with the result, which means the money will be available to improve homes, estates and services up to the standard we know residents want to see – the ‘Merton Standard’.”

Mark Rogers, Chief Executive of Circle Anglia, said: “I’m delighted that Merton’s tenants have voted for this investment in their homes and communities. We’re committed to enhancing life chances by providing better homes, delivering great customer service and investing in the wider community and this is a wonderful opportunity to help more people.”

Ann Moyies, chair of the Shadow Board of Merton Priory Homes, added: “Tenants should be congratulated for taking such a momentous decision. Next year it will be up to Merton Priory Homes to deliver the brighter future tenants voted for, continuing to work closely with tenants at every stage of the process.”

Notes to editors:

About Circle Anglia
Circle Anglia is one of the UK’s leading providers of affordable housing. With a dedicated team of more than 1,600 staff, Circle Anglia manages more than 46,000 homes, including supported and sheltered housing, for more than 180,000 people across the UK.

Its mission is to provide ‘So Much More’ to its residents, teams and wider stakeholders by providing great homes and reliable services, and building sustainable communities to improve people’s life chances.

The Circle Anglia group includes 10 partners. Seven registered providers (RPs): South Anglia Housing, Wherry Housing Association, Old Ford Housing Association, Circle 33 Housing Trust, Roddons Housing Association, Mole Valley Housing Association and Russet Homes; two support & care partners: EPIC Trust and Invicta Telecare, as well as Commercial Services Circle Anglia for shared ownership, market rent and private sale properties.

In 2007 Circle Anglia won the ‘best small development” award at the Affordable Home Ownership Awards for the ‘Ice block’ in Islington, Best Employer category in the 2007 Eastern Daily Press Recruitment Awards and in 2008 won a Housing Corporation Gold Award at Old Ford for ‘building cohesive communities’. Circle Anglia Group is certified as an ‘Investor in People’.

For more information about Circle Anglia and its partners, please visit http://www.circleanglia.org, email pressoffice@circleanglia.org or call 0845 234 0824.

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