EAST Renrewshire Tories have accused the council of ignoring tenants in Eastwood.
This week ERC announced a delay in the rent harmonisation process — ensuring council house rents are the same across the board — for one year for further “remodelling work”.
Currently, the gap in rents between Eastwood and the Levern Valley, consisting of Barrhead, Neilston and Uplawmoor, typically sees Eastwood tenants paying higher rents than residents in the Levern Valley. This is a hangover from the situation prior to local government reorganisation in 1995.
A council official estimated rents are approximately 20 per cent higher on the Eastwood side of the authority.
Councillor Gordon McCaskill, the shadow convenor for housing and maintenance services, told The Extra: “Harmonising rent across the council area has sat unwanted and unloved in the ‘too hard to do’ basket for 17 years.
“These 17 years have seen the gap between rents in Eastwood and the Levern Valley grow to enormous proportions thanks to equal percentile rent rises in both areas.
“This further year of delay will see the gap get even more grotesque”.
There are 3,240 council houses in East Ren — with approximately two thirds in Levern Valley and one third in the Eastwood side.
A council spokeswoman attributed the delay in the introduction of rent harmonisation as “so that further modelling and preparatory work can be undertaken and an amendment can be made to the rents for some of the sheltered properties at Waterford Road, Giffnock”.
Councillor McCaskill continued: “Rent harmonisation is a basic test of fairness: a test that the Labour-led council has dismally failed for 17 years due to a complete lack of courage and moral fibre which is set to continue for another year”.
However, independent councillor Danny Devlin, the convener for housing and maintenance services, declared himself “astonished” by Tory calls for harmonised housing.
He told The Extra: “This is just another example of the Conservatives trying to victimise the poor people of East Renfrewshire.
“Rent harmonisation is not a priority. Our biggest concern is building more social housing as we currently have a massive queue of families who could end up on the streets — the reason for that is Tory policy in Westminister”.
He added: “Their words are hypocritical.
“Families will end up on the street because of party policy on welfare reform coming from Westminister”.