A councillor has hit out at a ‘postcode lottery’ after lambasting an affordable housing supplier for charging homeowners nearly £500 a year in maintenance fees.
Chorley Coun Matthew Lynch has criticised Places for People Homes for charging residents up to £474 a year to maintain open spaces.
The affordable housing supplier, a branch of parent company Places for People, is the firm’s property and neighbourhood management arm responsible for around 40,000 homes.
Documents showing the £39.51 monthly charges – which affect residents in Great Meadow, Broadfields, Buckshaw Hall Close, and large sections of Astley Village and Clayton Brook – have been seen by the Lancashire Post and Chorley Guardian.
Coun Lynch, who represents Astley and Buckshaw, labelled the charges “scandalous” and a “postcode lottery” after being informed by residents.
Coun Lynch has also drawn attention to property management company Residential Management Group (RMG) – also owned by Places for People – which charges Buckshaw Village residents down the road a fraction of £474 annual costs at £150.
Coun Lynch said: “Residents in Astley Village are having to pay £474 for grounds maintenance.
"RMG in Buckshaw Village provide a community centre, football pitches, and play areas as well as ground maintenance.
"The question is how can you provide all these services in Buckshaw for £150 when in Astley Village you can’t do it for £474?
“I would imagine their argument is because of the scale. The legals say a service charge has to be ‘reasonable’.
"But what is reasonable? It shows it’s far cheaper to go with RMG so what are they doing to ensure residents are getting value?”
The issue was recently discussed at Chorley Council’s Overview and Scrutiny task Group looking at the quality of housing provided by social landlords.
A report into their findings is expected next month.
Coun Lynch also revealed residents have been coming to him over a number of litter issues – resulting in himself taking to the streets.
He said: “I myself have had to voluntarily litter pick in Astley Village. It’s not uncommon to see there being litter on streets. It’s been there for seven weeks, up to three months sometimes.”
A Places for People spokesman said: “The service charges paid by our residents reflect the level of service they receive and the cost of providing them. We do not make any profit on these charges, we simply pass on the costs that we incur.”
They added that neighbourhood comparisons “are not straightforward", explaining: "Charges paid by residents will depend on the specific services being provided locally and what the residents’ contracts say they must pay for.
“We always strive to maintain high standards but where these are not met, we always respond quickly to any issues that are identified.”