Council approves Shoreline Housing Partnership and Boston Mayflower merger
The headquarters of Shoreline Housing Partnership premises in Charlton Street, Grimsby
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 22 Sep 2017
North East Lincolnshire Council have approved the merger of Shoreline Housing Partnership and Boston Mayflower.
The decision was made at a meeting of the council's cabinet today and followed a lengthy debate in Full Council where councillors voiced their opinions on what the move will mean for social housing in the borough.
Shoreline Housing Partnership and Boston Mayflower have been negotiating the possibility of a merger between the two companies in order to create a 12,700 home Greater Lincolnshire landlord, believing that it could create a more efficient and resilient business, with a greater ability to invest in new and existing homes.
The cabinet approved the merger, feeling that it was the best option available to them, and will enter into a 12 year deed with the partnership, that will ensure council input into the borough's social housing provision.
However there is a chance that this could change with the implementation of new government legislation in April of next year.
At Full Council North East Lincolnshire Council leader Ray Oxby addressed members in a speech in which he recommended they support the merger.
However, he urged councillors to think carefully about a decision which would affect thousands of residents in the borough.
A total of 23 new homes for Grimsby to be built by Shoreline on run-down sites
"Personally, I'm satisfied we should support the motion. Both ourselves and the new housing provider are bound by our respective obligations," he said.
The merger would mean that residents will continue to see £15 million annual investment for upgrades and home maintenance, safe communities as the organisation works with communities and partners to combat anti-social behaviour and provide, along with increased services as it seeks to provide its own handyperson, warden and community support services.
In the long term, there will be an increase in spending capacity, as the organisation gets £50 million more to spend and invest, a repair service running seven days a week, the creation of 60 new homes per year, and there are hopes that an additional 4,000 people will be housed over the next 30 years.
Leader of the opposition, councillor Philip Jackson, also said he supported the merger plans in priniciple.
"Generally speaking Shoreline has made progress with the housing stock in the area, although there have been some problems," he said.
"I see this as the next evolution of social housing in this part of the world. By merging together the 12,000 homes will mean it becomes a much more viable organisation. it would bring benefits to existing Shoreline and Mayflower residents."
However, East Marsh ward councillor, Stephen Beasant, raised concerns about the merger, stating the council's influence over the borough's social housing and decreased dramatically in recent years.
"We are losing our control as councillors," he said. "We have had the number of councillors who sit on Shoreline's board reduced from four to two.
"When it comes to social housing we don't seem to be serving the people of our area."
Councillor Matthew Patrick went further by insisting Shoreline had "failed as a partner," while Immingham councillor David Bolton said members were being asked to recommend the merger "with one hand tied behind our backs" because of a government rule change introduced in April next year, which he said would see the deal go ahead regardless.
But councillor Oxby said it was important that the council maintained a working partnership with Shoreline, claiming that the government's Homes and Communities Agency "would look at us in a negative light" if they did not get behind the merger and insisted on the importance of the council establishing a memorandum of understanding with the housing provider going forward.