Aster Housing get a roasting from town councillors
At the full meeting of Marlborough Town Council on Monday (June 26) Deputy Mayor Councillor Lisa Farrell asked fellow councillors whether they knew that Aster Housing were selling off their properties as they become vacant. The homes are believed to be handed over to be sold on by a local estate agent.
"Why," Councillor Farrell asked, "are Aster getting away with it? Young people are leaving Marlborough. These are two, three and four bedroom houses and bungalows - just what Marlborough needs. Enough is enough."
"They say they are selling them so they can build social houses - I haven't seen any. We must get Aster in and ask them what the hell is going on. I've had enough."
She was supported by Councillor Nick Fogg: "I do wonder about the vast salaries paid to these people. It's time we looked into the activities of all housing associations."
The Mayor, Councillor Mervyn Hall, suggested a meeting with an Aster director. Though he warned that the Town Council was not 'flavour of the month' with Aster after the Council's dispute over access to Priory Gardens.
Councillor Loosmore was worried that the money from sales of Marlborough homes would not be used for new homes in Marlborough: "What are they doing with the money they make? I see the leaking of funds raised here to Melksham and so on."
Councillor Fogg suggested they ask Aster to come and answer councillors' questions: "If they won't come - we'll have an empty chair - that might interest the media. The idea that these people aren't accountable is disgraceful."
Councillor Forbes took a different view - saying that selling the houses might not be such a bad idea: "Many people do not want to rent and want to get on the housing ladder."
Councillor Price was not sure the first step on the ladder was achievable for young people: "As a young person who rents privately in Marlborough and wants to buy next year, I see house prices here going up and up and up. I won't be able to buy next year."
It was agreed to ask for an Aster director to meet with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor with a view to getting a meeting with the full council.
The Aster Group - as it is now known - has re-branded itself. Its website declares: "We are an ethical housing developer and landlord that exists to benefit society. We own and maintain over 28,000 homes and provide housing, care and support services to 75,000 customers."
"We can help you if you are looking to buy or rent a home from us, purchase one of our affordable shared ownership properties, or are interested in our tailored accommodation for elderly and vulnerable customers."