Councillors back call for tenants to be put back on the Shoreline board

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 19 Feb 2018

A number of councillors have backed demands for social housing provider Shoreline to allow tenants back on the organisation's board, as there has been no tenant representation for the past 18 months.

It comes in the wake of the boards of Shoreline and Boston Mayflower approving a controversial merger, that will establish a huge new 12,700 home landlord in Lincolnshire.

14 different councillors from the Labour Party, Ukip, the Liberal Democrats and two independents signed a letter sent to North East Lincolnshire Council and the two housing providers on behalf of residents calling for tenant board membership to return.

Following the departure of two tenant board members, there has been a standstill agreement in place that has not allowed any new board members for the past 18 months, with tenants believing that they have lost "all say" in the organisation.


Councillor Ray Sutton and former Shoreline tenant board member Michelle Edge outside Grimsby Town Hall after he resigned from the board (Image: Jon Corken)

They feel that without tenant board membership their views are not able to be properly heard, and that important decisions will be made on their behalf without their input.

The letter states: "The proposed merger with Boston Mayflower (who managed to do away with their tenant vote about 4 years ago despite similar opposition) has been conducted for the last 18 months under a standstill agreement - which prevented tenants having a say in these discussions, and stopped new members being added.

"Tenants would like their say, would like their seats on the board, and DO NOT wish to give up that role,and we're sure, from the current scrutiny panel at Boston Mayflower, we could find sufficient members that would be willing to represent their voice also on the board.

"We will go a step further and suggest that when the council has to reduce its role, due to legislation changes in May - that the tenant vote be increased to allow tenants a veto on anything they don’t feel is for the good of the people they represent.


Shoreline have been in North East Lincolnshire for 12 years (Image: Shoreline Housing Partnership)

"We have seen Shoreline's kind offer to set up a similar scrutiny panel for the joint company, this is not a seat at the table, this is not the ability to vote on matters.

"We have yet to see adequate justification from the ’independent' members remaining on the panel to keep tenants from the board, We have also yet to ascertain how they have gained effective control of these associations, and how the 3 independents feel they are working for the good of the company? The company is there for the benefit of the wider community - including tenants, residents and employees - why would that lead them to exclude those communities?

"We also feel that your efforts at consultation were woefully inadequate - a 1.65 per cent approval, should not constitute a green light for anything, especially when you are effectively taking control of this organisation."

Shoreline tenant Jane Allan said that she signed the letter because she feels that tenants using the housing partnership have lost all voice and input into the decision making process at Shoreline.


The headquarters of Shoreline Housing Partnership premises in Charlton Street, Grimsby

She said: "Basically the handling of the whole merger process has been flawed in my opinion as it has been without tenants.

"We no longer have any voice, and we feel that we are constantly being ignored without any representation on the board.

"That is not how a social housing organisation should be run, it should be about helping people in need and listening to their views, but we have lost our voice completely.

"The public consultation seems underhanded to me, as only 1.65 per cent of tenants responded with approval, not 66 per cent that they like to state, and they should have asked my so little tenants replied to them, it is because they are scared to speak up."

A Shoreline Housing Partnership spokesperson: "We have already mentioned the extensive consultation we have carried out with tenants, partners and the wider community in relation to both the conversion to a Community Benefit Society and the merger.


Shoreline Housing headquarters in Grimsby

"Throughout all of our activities Shoreline has always shown a commitment to tenant involvement and carried out consultation on major projects and proposals.

"Most residents give careful thought to proposals and responses bring up many different things that we need to take account of. We’ve shown before that we do genuinely listen.

"We have also mentioned the enhanced role of the tenant scrutiny panel – the chair of which will have the right to sit on the Lincolnshire Housing Partnership Board.

"Tenants will continue to be at the centre of our services and we look forward to continuing working with them."



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