Top brass axed in Stevenage council home reorganisation

Executives at Stevenage Homes have lost their jobs in a move by the borough council to bring management of its housing stock back in-house.

Lorraine O’Brien, chief executive of the arms-length management organisation (ALMO), and its resources director Tom Stevenson left their posts on November 30, a day before all other staff at the company were transferred to Stevenage Borough Council employment.

Ms O’Brien led the company from 2009, while Mr Stevenson held his position for a year. Redundancy packages for the pair are still being finalised, the council said.

The decision by the Labour-led authority to dissolve Stevenage Homes, which it set up in 2006 to gain access to government funding to improve social housing, was taken in September. Finance chiefs estimate the move, which is costing �500,000, will save between �635,000 and �860,000 a year.

The decision was opposed by the Lib Dem and Conservative groups on the council, as well as a significant minority of those who responded to a public consultation.

The council said it was “business as usual” for its 10,000 tenants and leaseholders, with staff continuing to work from its Danestrete offices, and no changes to the Stevenage Homes’ name and logo.

Council housing portfolio holder Ann Webb said the changes had not been made lightly, but were the “best way forward” for the housing service.

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She said: “We can make substantial financial savings by managing our housing stock within the council and those much-needed funds can be used to help improve and maintain people’s houses. The people of Stevenage remain our number one priority.”

More jobs among transferred staff and extant council employees could still go, as the authority looks to restructure management in the new year.

Cllr Webb said: “The council’s decision will inevitably involve some changes. I am confident that we can manage these changes and provide the best possible housing service for our town.”