Fears have been expressed for the future of the Housing Executive’s offices in Derry.
Sinn Féin councillor Tony Hassan raised concerns that a restructuring of the Housing Executive in the city could lead to “major changes” in the city with the possible amalgamation of two offices into one.
Colr. Hassan said speculation is growing that the Executive’s offices at Collon Terrace and Waterloo Square will be merged into one office, to be located at Richmond Chambers, in the next 18 months.
He also said it has been suggested that the planning and finance office, currently located at Richmond Chambers, could be moved out of the city.
The housing spokesperson said he would be worried about the future of service provision in the city if the plans go ahead.
“There have been concerns expressed in recent days about what the future may hold for the Housing Executive and its ability to provide a service for tenants in Derry.
“There is a fear that the Housing Executive offices at Collon and Waterloo Place could be amalgamated into one office at Richmond Chambers in the next 18 months. And there is also speculation that the Planning and Finance office at the Richmond Chambers could be moved to a regional office,” he said.
Colr. Hassan said the speculation has arisen out of a planned shake-up in the Housing Executive.
“I am alarmed at this news and fear that it may have an effect on the ability of the Housing Executive to deliver a proper service in the city.
“We have seen staff leaving positions in the Housing Executive and not being replaced and we know that the Regional Manager in the city who is retiring soon will not be replaced, instead another regional manager will run the two regional areas,” he claimed.
The Sinn Féin councillor also expressed concerns over the long-term future of the Housing Executive in the city following the transfer of housing stock to housing associations.
“We have also seen housing stock being handed to Housing Associations to carry out refurbishments because the Housing Executive hadn’t the funds to do it,” he claimed.
“I fear if this practice is continued across the North it will result in a loss of housing stock, a rundown of the organisation and subsequent job losses,” he explained.
Colr. Hassan said he is seeking a meeting with the chief executive of the Executive to discuss the concerns.
“We all know the pressures of the housing situation in Derry with the homeless list rising each day and the ageing housing stock and the maintenance service it requires. The Chief Executive of the Housing Executive, John McPeak, will be in the city this week and I would call on him to meet with staff in Derry and clarify the situation and allay their fears,” he said.