MORE than 6,000 council house tenants are being asked to shape the future of the housing service in Ellesmere Port and Neston.

Tenants - and council staff - will be asked for their comments on Cheshire West and Chester Council plans to outsource management of the town’s housing service to an experienced provider.

Last September, a report from consultants, Housing Quality Network, branded the inherited service as “no star - with poor prospects for improvement.”

Since then, CWAC staff - led by an interim management team - have made changes which have resulted in the Tenant Services Authority deferring its plans to inspect the service in October.

Cllr Herbert Manley, prosperity executive member said: “We still have a very long way to go before we reach the quality of service that we want for our tenants.

“Spending years playing ‘catch up‘ is unacceptable. We believe that introducing expertise, developed over long years of experience, is the quickest way of achieving the high standard of services required.”

Consultations will begin within the next fortnight with both staff and tenants allocated independent advisors by the council.

Full background information will be provided via Q and A packs and there will be drop-in sessions for those who want to ask further questions.

Tenants and staff will be given four weeks to respond, then the council will consider the results of the consultation and decide whether to move to stage one of the procurement process, when interested organisations will be invited to tender for the contract.

It is likely to be June 2011 before any contract would be awarded.

Whilst the exact scope of the outsourcing is still undecided.

Cllr Manley added: “The Community Housing Panel is contributing to the consultation process to help ensure  that our tenants and leaseholders across Ellesmere Port and Neston get the maximum information and opportunity to air their views.

“We have already confirmed that the proposed change will not result in any staff unemployment and in fact, the improvements already introduced have led to job opportunities.

“As far as our tenants are concerned, the council will remain their landlord and changes will result only in improved services.

“They will not affect security of tenure,tenancy arrangements, council tax, rent levels or the council’s allocation policy.”