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BERWICKSHIRE FIRST IN SCOTLAND TO TRANSFER ENTIRE HOUSING STOCK

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Berwickshire DC has become the first local authority in Scotland to receive approval to transfer its entire housing...
Berwickshire DC has become the first local authority in Scotland to receive approval to transfer its entire housing stock to a new, local housing association.

Scottish housing minister Raymond Robertson said the transfer is 'a significant milestone' in the government's policy of giving tenants more choice and control over their housing.

Over 2,000 houses are being transferred to the Berwickshire Housing Association, with the strong support of tenants. The association has been created by the district council specifically to own and manage the council's housing stock.

Registered with Scottish Homes, its committee of management will have up to 16 voluntary members - of whom at least four will be tenants. Local authority membership will be limited to 20%.

Staff of Berwickshire DC's housing department will transfer to the new association.

Announcing grant of consent by the Scottish secretary to the transfer, Mr Robertson said:

'This large-scale transfer is a significant milestone in our policy of encouraging local authorities to transfer their stock to other landlords, giving tenants more choice and control over their housing. Over 15,000 local authority houses have been transferred to housing associations since 1989, but this is the first time the entire stock of one authority has been transferred.

'I am sure the transfer will be of considerable benefit to Berwickshire tenants, whose support for the transfer was resoundingly demonstrated in a ballot last October. The newly created Berwickshire Housing Association is aiming to provide an improved service to tenants and, by accessing funding in the private sector, the association will be able to increase investment in the stock and bring about real improvements more quickly than would have been possible by the council.

'The new association will operate on a non-profit making basis, and is committed to setting rents at levels which are within the reach of tenants on low incomes.

'I am confident that by working in partnership with the local authority, the new sssociation will be able to make a very positive contribution to meeting housing needs in the Borders.'

The Berwickshire housing stock to be transferred consists of up to 2,104 houses, of which three-quarters are in the towns of Duns, Coldstream, Eyemouth and Chirnside, and also some ancillary properties such as garages.

The price agreed for the transferred stock is £11,529,000, based on a valuation approved by the district valuer. The money received will be used to repay Berwickshire DC's outstanding debt on its housing stock, and the surplus of up to £755,000 remaining after the expenses of the sale will be used to make a grant to the housing association for building new houses for social renting.

The ballot of tenants was conducted in the autumn of 1994. A total of 79% of eligible tenants voted, and 83% of these voted in favour of the transfer. Since then the council has been negotiating the detailed terms of the transfer agreement.

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