news

Ellesmere Port's council houses under new management

But new operator ForHousing says it's business as usual for tenants

ForHousing has taken on the management of the 5,500 council homes in Ellesmere Port and Neston from Plus Dane(Image: ForHousing)

A new era has begun for council homes in Ellesmere Port and Neston.

The management of the 5,500 council-owned dwellings across the former borough has moved from Plus Dane – which has held the contract since 2012 – to the ForViva Group which now owns or manages 24,000 homes across the north west.

The move is the latest change in the control of the homes which moved from the Labour controlled Ellesmere Port and Neston District Council to the new Conservative-run Cheshire West and Chester Council on local government reorganisation in 2009.

A report for the new council led to claims the traditionally lower rent properties, owned and managed by the district council, had seen one of the country’s worst council house services condemned as no star and with poor prospects for improvement.

The new borough promised to act and later brought in Plus Dane to manage the stock on a £100m five-year contract whilst retaining ownership of the homes.

Amanda Penfold, neighbourhood support co-ordinator at ForHousing meeting customer Kathleen Williams(Image: ForHousing)

With that contract approaching its end, tenants and leaseholders voted only narrowly for the homes to continue to be owned by the council but managed by an outside organisation as at present.

But last autumn it emerged Plus Dane would not be submitting a final bid for the new contract, saying: “Having gone through a thorough dialogue process with the council we concluded that to achieve a bid without compromising what we wanted to deliver in terms of quality would have a potentially detrimental effect on the successful delivery of our corporate plan.”

ForViva points out council tenants were involved throughout the selection of a new housing management provider and have had a say in how the service will be run.

'Business as usual'

The contract will operate under the name ForHousing with ForViva saying it has a track record of working with communities.

The 185 staff in the current housing management service will transfer across and oversee the contract. “Customers will still be dealing with the same staff operating out of the same offices. For those accessing the service it will be business as usual,” says the company.

Henry Terefenko, director of operations at ForHousing, said: “ForHousing is ready to work with the people of Ellesmere Port to create thriving communities, thriving residents and a thriving local economy.

“The team has worked incredibly had over the past five months to ensure a seamless transfer for customers and staff. Now we will work in partnership with customers, the local council and other partners to deliver a great service.”

Ellesmere Port St Paul’s ward councillor Angela Claydon (Lab), cabinet member for housing and a housing chief on the previous council, said: “We are entering a new era for council housing in Ellesmere Port and Neston.

“It has been an exciting opportunity for customers to help develop the service and have a say in how their homes will be managed.

“We’ve worked very closely with the ForHousing team and the ForViva group over recent months and have been impressed by their dedication to improving lives and communities.”

ForHousing has committed to investing in new technology to improve services for customers and staff.

It will also work with local partners and customers to develop a community plan which will identify ways to create more access to education, training and employment, improve health and wellbeing and contribute to making neighbourhoods safer places to live.

Services and works to be provided under the new contract will involve lettings, estate management, empty properties, enforcing the tenancy agreement, rent collection, repairs, caretaking, resident involvement and delivering the capital programme.

ForHousing’s office at 7-9 Civic Way in Ellesmere Port will be open 8.30am - 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am - 4.30pm on Fridays.

Tenants and leaseholders wanting more information on the company can visit www.ForHousing.co.uk or find them on Facebook or Twitter.

ForHousing will also take on the management of 210 new affordable homes the council is building in Ellesmere Port and Winsford.

The value of the contract has not been disclosed.

View full mobile page