A housing association’s decision to leave its Leyland base has been branded a ‘disaster’ by tenants.
The Accent Housing Foundation, which manages homes in the Robin Hey area of the town, closed its Leyland office in Alder Close last week, arguing it did not offer good value for money.
But residents are worried about the type of support they can expect in future, with the closest public office now being based in Burnley.
Accent originally revealed in its newsletter that it planned to leave the Moss Side base in March next year.
But the neighbourhood team, which is responsible for customer services such as providing a caretaker to ensure homes and estates are kept in good order, dealing with tenant complaints and responding to any reports of anti-social behaviour ‘quickly and properly’, left the town on Friday.
Now, one tenant has told how she is worried about the future. The woman, who does not wish to be named, said: “Closing the Leyland office and expecting people to travel to Burnley is a bit of a disaster really.
“A lot of people are worried about the effects of losing our local office. People go there to pay rent, and we feel we should have someone on the ground keeping an eye on things in the estate.
“Burnley is quite a distance for some people, especially if they have to use public transport, so I feel sorry for them.
“New Progress Housing Association has a presence in the town, so why can’t we get that kind of service from Accent?”
But a spokesman for Accent has said the restructure will actually mean an improved service for tenants in Leyland.
Communications co-ordinator Heather Jacklin said: “As part of a recent organisational restructure, we have looked at all our offices across Accent to ensure they provide the best value for money service for our customers, and their running costs could not be better spent on improving more services elsewhere.
“Our Leyland office has very few visitors, as more than 90 per cent of our residents prefer to use the telephone to contact us.
“This has made it more difficult to justify the cost of keeping the office open, so we made the decision to close it and move the services it provides to our main Burnley office.
“Before we made the decision to close the Leyland office, we talked to our residents about our plans, and no concerns were raised.”
She added: “Closing our Leyland office will not compromise any of our services, but actually improve them.
“By moving them to our Burnley office, our residents will benefit from a more efficient service with longer opening hours, which include Saturday mornings, and more dedicated staff to help them with all their tenancy related enquiries.
“Our Chorley base will remain a base from which staff can visit local residents in their own homes in Leyland.
“By doing this we are, in effect, taking our services directly to our residents which will be much more convenient for them, and enable us to tailor the service to meet their needs.
“We have also appointed a new team of specialist staff to provide support on matters such as welfare benefits and training and employment.
“We continually strive to improve services to our residents to ensure they remain at the heart of our business.”