I AM WRITING in response to Mr Westoll's letter in the Chronicle, April 10, regarding service charges.

I thank Mr Westoll for his letter raising concerns regarding his payment for communal lighting and grounds maintenance service.

Service charges were introduced to London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) tenants this month.

The budget for managing our council properties has been reduced, mainly due to the reduction in government subsidy, and we have had to think of ways to meet the budget gap.

The Government already assumes we do collect service charges, and therefore if we do not use this way of collecting the cost of services, then the council loses out.

These charges are calculated using a formula based on the total cost of the service across the whole borough and the number of properties receiving the service.

This flat rate charge is then adjusted to take into account the size of the tenant's property (i.e. the number of bedrooms), and the service(s) they receive.

This was discussed and agreed during the meetings of the service charges working group, which included tenant representatives, Hounslow Homes Board and councillors.

The introduction of these charges was publicised through the residents' newsletter (Hounslow Homes News), online, by posters and through letters to tenants.

In Mr Westoll's case we have looked into the location of his property and as he benefits from communal lighting and grounds maintenance surrounding his property, he is liable for charges.

I am very sorry that he did not receive a prompt response to his letter,but I can assure you that his response is on its way.

We encourage all residents to contact the Hounslow Homes (the organisation that manages and maintains LBH council homes) free phone on 0800 085 6575 if they have any enquiries regarding service charges.

SUE WITHERSPOON Acting Director of Housing, London Borough of Hounslow.