Please see below a combined statement from the Birley Ward Councillors, Beighton Ward Councillors and Clive Betts MP providing in response to an article published in The Star.
In a recent Viewpoint published in ‘The Star’, concerns were expressed around the suspension of the Hackenthorpe Tenants and Community Association (HTACA). The piece finished by making an inference that local councillors from Beighton and Birley wards, plus Clive Betts MP, appear to be disinterested due to there being no elections this year. Nothing could be further from the truth. The councillors and MP have been working with the association for many years but have been more closely involved recently as the problems surrounding the TACA’s operation have unfolded.
For clarity, a number of facts regarding the association need to be understood: HTACA, covering a vast area that spans both Beighton and Birley Wards, has been in a state of turmoil for a number of years. Over two years ago, following changes to the committee and officers of the association, an Independent Auditor was asked to conduct a review of the association’s previous year’s accounts and identified some discrepancies that required further investigation. This highlighted additional areas of concern including items of expenditure of the association, the commissioning and awarding of works conducted in the gardens of the association’s office, and around individual expense claims. Further instances of fraud were uncovered and police proceedings followed. After a period in which the committee and officers tried to stabilise and rebuild the TACA, the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and some other committee members took the decision to resign. They cited problems within the committee, expressing concern that some committee members were making it difficult to conduct the functions and operation of the association. They effectively closed the association, returning the keys of the TACA premises and transferring the balance of the accounts to Sheffield Homes to hold in trust. Due to the difficulties the association had experienced, and a number of outstanding issues that had still to be resolved, the Local Area Board of Sheffield Homes (now Council Housing Service) concluded that a full and frank investigation in to the association was the best way to resolve the issues and plot a way forward. This course of action received the backing and support of the local councillors, Clive Betts MP, the Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods and his Cabinet Assistant. Consequently, a panel made up of independent tenants that include the former Chair of Sheffield Homes, plus Cllr Tony Damns, Cabinet Assistant, and the Council Housing Service Area Manager, is currently conducting the investigation. As this complex investigation is still ongoing, and until the investigation is completed, the association remains suspended and the Council Housing Service holds tenant’s levies.
This is a difficult time for the TACA and everyone involved in trying to resolve the matter. Whilst we recognise the frustration experienced by the ongoing suspension of the TACA, we are disappointed with a piece that attempts to paint a picture of disinterest and apathy. We are united in our desire to ensure that a properly constituted and well-run organisation emerges from this process; an organisation that is fit for purpose and is focused on its members.
In the meantime, tenants and residents across the Hackenthorpe, Birley, Frecheville and Scowerdons estates continue to receive support and assistance from their elected councillors and MP through regular surgeries or by contacting them directly.
Cllr Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, Cllr Ian Saunders, Cllr Chris Rosling-Joseph
Members for Beighton ward
Cllr Karen Mcgowan, Cllr Denise Fox, Cllr Bryan Lodge
Members for Birley ward
Clive Betts MP
Sheffield South East