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Caithness News Bulletins August 2005

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COUNCIL ANNOUNCES MEMBERSHIP OF NEW HIGHLAND LANDLORD
The Highland Council announced today (Tuesday 30 August) the make up of the 15-strong Board of a new landlord for the Highlands, to be developed to take over ownership of the current Council housing stock under its housing stock transfer proposals.

The Board of the new landlord will be made up of five Highland Councillors; five tenants; and five independent members.  The five Highland Council Board members were confirmed by the Council on 23 June 2005 as Councillors Katrina MacNab, (Pulteneytown, Wick), Brian Murphy (Fort William North), Drew Miller, (Portree), Helen Carmichael, (Beauly and Strathglass) and Stuart Black, (Strathspey North-East).


Councillor Katrina MacNab (Pulteneytown) is one of the five Highland councillors appointed to the new housing board


Andi Wakeman from Watten is one of the five independent members appointed to the new board

Following an open recruitment process the remaining 10 Board member places have been filled. The five tenant members are George Henderson, Fort Augustus; Doreen Jones, Skye; Alan Kinghorn, Alness; Alec Macleod, Merkinch, Inverness; and Alan Spence, Hilton, Inverness.

The independent members of the Board are Dr Nigel Campbell, Muir of Ord; Colin Craig, Inverness; Angus Maclean, Drumnadrochit; Linda Munro, Bettyhill, and Andi Wakeman, Watten.

The Board will be responsible for developing constitutional and governance arrangements for the new organisation and ensuring that it is able to become a fully registered Housing Association.

The decision on whether to transfer or not will be decided by a ballot of all Highland Council tenants due to be held in October 2006. Before then the new landlord will have to develop a Business Plan to be put to tenants.

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of The Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Chairman, said: "I am delighted to announce the membership of the Board of this new Highland Landlord. We have appointed a group of committed individuals who will form an effective Board. It was a pleasure to meet them at interview and I know they will bring both experience and energy to the new Board."
Councillor Sheena Slimon, Depute Chairman (Housing), added: "We are grateful for the interest shown by members in joining the Board of this new Highland housing association. The Board now has the challenge of developing a strong Business Plan to put to tenants. I know they are up for it."

The Highland Council decided to apply to join the Scottish Executive Community Ownership Programme for housing stock transfer on 28 October 2004 and was accepted in December 2004.

As a result of joining the stock transfer programme additional investment of 50 million is already being spent in the Highlands through Community Ownership Grant allocated to existing Highland housing associations by Communities Scotland, the Scottish Executive housing and regeneration agency, working with the Council.

Glasgow, Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway Councils have previously transferred their housing stock. The Western Isles, Argyle and Bute, Inverclyde, Stirling, Renfrewshire and Edinburgh Councils are all currently progressing housing stock transfer proposals.

A ballot of Highland Council tenants is due to be held in October 2006.

Stock transfer would see the Council's housing debt of 175m written-off, allowing increased investment in improvements to the housing stock.

The new landlord will develop a Business Plan including guarantees on future rent levels, security of tenure, service levels and Right to Buy.

Tenants would have the same legal rights and security of tenure that they currently have with the Council, through the Scottish Secure Tenancy Agreement.