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Melton Grove: 'The Facts'

Melton Grove: The FactsDespite the Borough Council's recent consideration of the matter, we think the Melton Grove saga is set to continue. We're not even sure the Council's most recent resolution (i.e. to confirm the decision of the Portfolio Holder to sell the Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association) will turn out to be its last word on the matter either.

With interest, we read Cllr Patricia Fieldhouse's letter in the Express recently and we subsequently received a copy of a response to that letter, from the recently formed Melton Grove Residents Association. Unusually, we are publishing MGRA's letter in counterbalance and to make sense of it, we think readers need to understand the content of the letter to which it is a reply.

We have therefore taken the liberty of reproducing, in its entirety, the text of Cllr Fieldhouse's letter as published in the LSA Express, and trust that it will be seen that we do so on the basis of 'fair use.' We do not seek to infringe anyone's copyright.

"MELTON GROVE-THE FACTS

I wish to reply to a leaflet recently distributed by the Melton Grove Residents Association, which represents some, not all, of the tenants of 20 bungalows at Melton Grove, Lytham.

Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association Ltd currently owns the freehold of these homes which are let at subsidised rents.

In 2009 it undertook an appraisal of its options and in December 2009 wrote to tenants advising them of the possibility of new owners.

During 2010 the Board resolved to sell the company and could have sold the site to the highest bidder. However, it wanted to ensure that the philanthropic aims of the company were preserved. Windmill Oaks Ltd were selected from a shortlist of three, all of whom proposed further investment in the site. The sale is now progressing.

The outcomes of the sale are:

1. Existing tenancy arrangements remain in full force, i.e. tenants have full rights of lifetime occupation - new owners cannot force them out.

2. A capital receipt reverts to Fylde Borough Council (who nominate shareholder/directors to the company) for re-investment in other local community services.

3. Protection of at least 15 existing bungalows in perpetuity.

4. All future lettings of the 15 existing bungalows would be to older people or adults with disabilities or a learning difficulty with a Fylde connection.

5. Any future development is restricted to no more than a total of 22 homes on the site.

The transaction is lawful and, we believe, a sensible outcome. The company will pass on its current waiting list for tenancies to the new owners.

The terms of the sale can be policed by Fylde Borough Council in the future.

At a recent open meeting with tenants, the majority of the 18 current tenants were comfortable with the proposals.

Coun Patricia Fieldhouse

Board Chairman

Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association Ltd."

"REPLY TO MELTON GROVE-THE FACTS

I wish to reply to the letter written by Councillor Fieldhouse in Letters to the Editor LSA Express 31/03/11 entitled Melton Grove Sale -The Facts.

There was great emphasis put on the fact that Clifton Housing Association owned the freehold on the land and I would like to make it clear that the freehold was only transferred to the Association in November 2009 although accounts for that year do not show a payment for the purchase.

The “facts” did not state who paid for the freehold or what the intention of buying it was. Was it for the good of the company and its residents or to make way for a sale?

The “facts” state that Windmill Homes were chosen from a shortlist of three companies when in actual fact another company was chosen from a shortlist of three Social Housing Landlords. Windmill then heard of the Grove being sold and came in much later with a higher bid. So in actual fact it did go to the highest bidder. No other developer was invited to bid.

The letter then detailed five “outcomes of the sale”. None of which were the same as those released to the residents. All with huge loopholes any decent developer could jump through but mainly the one about “full rights of life time occupation-new owners cannot force tenants out”.

Ansdell Councillor Ben Aitken has already described the financial package that will be offered to the resident to move out of the first property that is earmarked for demolition. When you are retired money to move isn’t what you want. - To be left in your own home in peace is.

We then read that the existing waiting list will be passed on to the new owner. It perhaps isn’t a surprise to learn that the 13 year waiting list of two years ago was reduced to zero when the criteria were changed and two properties have now stood empty for two years.

Councillor Fieldhouse then states that the majority of the 18 tenants are comfortable with the proposals. The Board Chairman of Clifton Housing Association might like to know there are in fact twenty five residents.

Seventeen of those have formed a Residents Association to oppose the pushing through of the Sale until proper consultation has taken place.

There are 5 of the more able or younger residents supporting a quick sale - not a majority.  3 remaining residents are convinced the deal is done and await their fate.

The sale was orchestrated behind closed doors without the residents, townspeople and the majority of Fylde Borough Councillors being made aware of it. Once the proposal became public and Melton Grove Residents Association was formed to stand up for the residents’ rights it has been stonewalled and undermined in an attempt to discredit it and still the sale is being rushed through without consultation.

The proceeds have been linked to the high profile donation to Lytham Hall.  £100k each year for three years. With £1.5 million in FBC reserves why is the donation dependant on the sale of 25 elderly peoples homes to a developer?

Do these residents not deserve a decent explanation as to why the sale of their homes is being pushed through as though the Councillors lives depend on it?

Emma Duffy

Melton Grove Residents Association."

Dated:   14 April 2011


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