Councillors meet on Wednesday (January 18) to decide the future management of the 5,500 council homes across Ellesmere Port and Neston .

Housing association Plus Dane, which has managed the borough council owned properties since 2012 under a £100m contract, indicated it would not be bidding for a new 10 year arrangement due to run from July.

The cabinet will be asked to approve Greater Manchester-based City West Housing Trust, a not-for-profit housing association which owns and manages more than 14,600 homes in the north west, as preferred bidder.

The cabinet decided in November 2015 that the borough council should retain the ownership of its homes in Ellesmere Port and Neston and that they should continue to be managed by an external contractor.

This decision followed an extensive appraisal of the options and an independent consultation with tenants who the council says have been involved throughout.

In summer 2015 more than 1,200 tenants responded with a preference to retain council ownership of the housing stock and to outsource the housing management service according to the council.

Borough housing chief Angela Claydon (Lab, Ellesmere Port St Paul’s), the cabinet member for housing, said: “Having tenants help drive the shape of the new service ensures that we can have confidence that the service reflects the priorities of local residents.

“The tenant liaison panel members, all volunteers, have generously given up their time. I’d like to thank the panel for their input, their commitment to and support for the process which has been of significant value.

Angela Claydon is targeting empty homes across the borough
Angela Claydon

“Following cabinet’s decision all tenants will be notified by letter of the chosen preferred bidder.”

If approved by the cabinet there will be a five-month lead-in period before the new contract starts on July 1. Until then the council says the current arrangements with Plus Dane Housing will remain the same.

The council will continue to be landlord of the properties and the existing workforce will transfer to the new provider under employment protection regulations if the cabinet approves the recommendation.

It believes the proposed new contract ‘will provide value for money for tenants and leaseholders as well as a high quality service’.

City West is part of the ForViva Group which owns and manages a total of 18,000 homes across the region and comprises City West Housing, the Villages Housing Association in Merseyside and Greater Manchester based construction company ForWorks which operates across the region.

The new contract will include all housing management and repairs and maintenance for all council tenants and leaseholders.

It will also include new council homes currently being built, including 130 in Winsford, as well as repairs and maintenance of the two council Gypsy and Traveller sites and what are said to be ‘added value services’ to increase the delivery of new homes and improve the health, well-being and employment prospects of residents.

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