Hyde service charge complaints come under scrutiny


HOUSING provider Hyde was questioned by councillors on Tuesday over concerns service charges on some of its properties had reportedly been increased by up to 1,900 per cent.

The findings of a Chichester District Council task and finish group were reported to the overview and scrutiny committee after numerous residents had complained.

Reports of estates being charged £9,500 per year for grass cutting and sizeable service charge rises without consultation were among the report’s findings.

But Hyde refuted what it deemed as ‘unsubstantiated’ allegations and said it had not seen the evidence behind the claims.

A letter read to the committee from Hyde group director of housing Carol Carter stated: “We are extremely disappointed by the tone of the report and unsubstantiated allegations to which we have not had the opportunity to review and respond as we have not been provided with the evidence gathered in the course of the review.”

Ms Carter noted Hyde had no obligation to consult over service charges but the organisation had previously conceded that ‘morally’ they should have.

She said they had ‘legitimately’ begun to pass on the costs of health and safety compliance which they could no longer absorb.

Regional director of housing Chyrel Brown assured councillors any discrepancies would be altered where found.

But Hyde residents painted a picture of a communication breakdown, describing how they had been ‘fobbed off’ when trying to report issues.

Kate Moss, a Hyde resident for 12 months, said: “The system is fiercely defensive. It is a them and us organisation. That is simply not good enough.”

“I have a fierce raison d’etre for justice and I have found the injustice in this organisation breathtaking. The arrogance is breathtaking and there is a total management failure.”

Councillor Andrew Shaxson who led the task and finish group, said the discrepancies were not from block to block but dwelling to dwelling within the blocks, which remained unresolved.

The committee voted in favour of asking CDC’s head of housing to write to Hyde expressing its concern, recommending an urgent review of complaints, a re-examination of service charges across the district and for directors to update them on progress in January.