PLANS to sell Kingston council homes to a housing association have suffered a blow after a consultation revealed just 16% of tenants would support the move if balloted.
The results will make difficult reading for the council, which is due to discuss the report at a meeting next month, after it spent 18 months pushing for a stock transfer.
The report also reveals it will cost a whopping £306.5m over the next 30 years to maintain council owned housing.
Tory housing spokesman Ian George said the results meant a ballot could not go ahead as there was not a reasonable expectation of residents voting in favour of a transfer. He said tenants were tired of Kingston Council blaming central Government for the state of their homes and said more should have been done to explain how housing associations work.
"People are concerned – they don't understand what would happen and are worried about losing their home and their rent going up," he said. "We support what the council is trying to do and understand the pressure the government's system puts on them, but they've gone about this all wrong and have effectively lumbered tenants with another two years of this.
"There's no way we'd get the government's go ahead for a ballot with consultation results like these."
The government's housing subsidy system sees 31p in every £1 of rent Kingston Council collects redistributed around the country. A housing association would be exempt from this.
Kingston has twice tried to sell off its housing but tenants voted against it. A ballot was widely expected to be held later this year, and in preparation, council tenants were interviewed face to face, over the telephone and through postal questionnaire.
16% of those interviewed on the telephone said they would vote against a transfer, while 28% of those contact by post said the same. Nearly half said they wanted to continue renting from the council, even if it meant seeing no improvements to their homes.
The council's executive member for housing Penny Shelton admitted councillors would be advised to not press for a ballot when they meet on July 7.
"This has been a major consultation with our residents and the results show that many residents think that the Council does a good job with the limited money we have available. Most residents say they are satisfied with their homes and it is a vote of confidence in the services provided by the Council," she said.
‘The future of their homes is a very important issue for our tenants. It is not the council’s job to browbeat residents into choosing which change is right for them. Our job is to give residents the facts and let people make up their own minds.
"But the underlying problem remains that we need to invest more in our housing stock. We will continue to work with residents until a consensus emerges about the best way forward."