Bolton to put stock transfer to vote

Bolton Council is asking tenants to consider a proposal to transfer the ownership of its 18,200 homes to a new-style Bolton at Home.

The council's executive today agreed to begin the consultation process into the proposals, with plans to hold a ballot in the summer. Last month the government gave Bolton and five other councils the green light for housing stock transfer, meaning that if the transfer goes ahead then £288m of Bolton's housing debt should be written off.

The council and Bolton at Home, its existing arm's length management organisation for housing, believe the proposed change would unlock funds to improve and maintain homes and estates across Bolton.

If the transfer goes ahead it would mean £124m is invested in housing stock and improving estates over the next five years, the council claims.

Under current government rules, the council cannot afford to borrow all the money needed to continue improving houses to a decent standard.

If the transfer does not go ahead then the council would only be able to invest £66m in homes. Te transfer will only take place if tenants give their backing in a ballot. Throughout the next few months, tenants will receive newsletters, a series of roadshows will take place and Bolton at Home staff will also be visiting homes to answer any questions tenants may have.

Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, said: "The council does not have the money to continue to meet the standards that tenants are telling us they want to see and to get everyone new bathrooms and kitchens more quickly. Over the years, we have always worked hard to repair and improve homes and estates as well as provide excellent services."

He added: "Since its formation in 2002, Bolton at Home has been very successful and has been given a three star excellent rating by government. However, the extra funding which Bolton at Home received ended last year and the council has been trying to work out how it maintains and improves the quality of homes and estates in the future.

"If the transfer went ahead the new-style Bolton at Home could access funds and it would also secure jobs for Bolton at Home staff. We want what's best for tenants and we think this is a good offer. But ultimately it's their decision and they will decide if the transfer goes ahead."

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