Voting begins in Housing Transfer Ballot
Voting starts tomorrow (Tuesday 31 October) in the ballot on the proposed transfer of council housing in the Highlands to the not-for profit Highland Housing Association. All Highland Council secure tenants, who reside in a council-owned property, are entitled to vote and completed ballot forms must be received by mid-day on Tuesday 21 November. A total of 16,398 ballot papers have been issued by Electoral Reform Services, who are running the ballot for the Council. The result is expected on Wednesday 22 November.
The Highland Council is recommending the transfer of housing to Highland Housing Association as the best way to improve homes and housing services while still keeping rents affordable.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee, urged as many tenants as possible to vote on this important issue.
She said: “We believe that transfer is the best way of protecting what tenants like about the current housing service - but with lower rents and more investment. However, at the end of the day , transfer will only happen if the majority of tenants voting vote for it.”
The Council has said that if the houses stay with the Council, it will have to raise rents sharply to bring housing up to the standards required. This would mean that average rents would rise to over £83 a week within eight years.
A “yes” vote by tenants would mean that the UK Government would cancel the Council's £160 million housing debt. At present 41p in every pound of tenants' rents goes towards paying this off. With transfer more money would be available to pay for improvements to homes and services.
Angus Maclean, Chair of Highland Housing Association said: "We will be able to invest more to bring housing up to modern standards. That will include better heating systems, additional energy efficiency measures, new kitchens and bathrooms where they are needed. We will also be able to improve fences and pathways, which we know are a priority for many tenants. A yes vote will give tenants the security of knowing that their housing and environment will be improved while rent rises will be kept lower.”