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Southwark calls off Tabard Gardens transfer ballot

Plans to hold a ballot asking residents on Tabard Gardens Estate if they want to transfer their homes to housing association control have been halted by Southwark Council.

Beverley Bassom
Cllr Beverley Bassom

Southwark has responded to feedback from residents of the estate, which has 1400 households, and decided to stop the transfer process before it goes to the final ballot stage.

The decision was taken on Friday 15 November following consultation with the Peabody Trust. It follows feedback on an "offer document" which outlined proposals for transfer and asked people for their views. A separate phone poll by SE1-based pollsters MORI echoed the results (only 20 per cent planned to vote "yes") as did overwhelming anecdotal evidence from council officers and councillors who questioned people door to door.

Cllr Beverley Bassom, Executive Member for Housing, said: "The information we now have in front of us is clear – the majority of residents either do not want to transfer to housing association control or are undecided.There is no point in going ahead with a ballot when the outcome is already so apparent.

"I have taken countless calls from residents about this issue and not a single person has said they are in favour in transfer."

She said: "The request to begin the transfer process came from tenants' representatives, but we have always said we would never force people to go down the transfer route. We have done exactly as we promised and listened to the views of the community.

"Stopping the process at this stage is the sensible thing to do."

The transfer process began 18 months ago shortly after Tabard's Tenants' Management Co-Operative (TMC) asked the council for help in securing additional investment into the estate.

Southwark claims that a feasability study showed the best way forward was to transfer to a housing association which would unlock millions of pounds for refurbishment and rebuild.

The chosen partner, Waterloo-based Peabody Trust, planned to invest more than £76 million in tenants' homes on the estate had the transfer gone ahead.

Richard McCarthy, Chief Executive of Peabody Trust, said: "The decision to halt the process means the extra millions are no longer available. Tabard Gardens still needs massive investment and we are disappointed that the project will not be going ahead. Regrettably, the proposals have not had the level of support needed for a ballot to transfer to a new housing association to take place."

Meanwhile, Southwark Council insists that it remains committed to finding ways of bringing homes up to a decent standard.

Cllr Bassom added: "Current information shows that Tabard needs around 23 million to bring homes up to a very basic standard of decency and our next challenge is to find out how we can do that. We will be meeting with the TMC in the New Year to talk about the next steps forward."

Peabody Trust

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