Campaigners against changes to council housing management in the borough have stepped up their fight and demanded they get a vote on the proposed changes.

Kingston Defend Council Housing (KDCH) is a newly-formed group protesting the set-up of a Community Housing Trust (CHT), which would make decisions about the borough’s frontline council housing services and estate repairs.

A CHT would be made up of an elected board of residents who would deal with the majority of council housing concerns, such as rent collection and debt management, in the borough.

But the campaign group claims the trust would cost too much money to set up and would not actually put residents in charge.

Members have set up a petition in the hope the council will be forced to discuss their worries in full council.

Derek Moss, KDCH member and Surbiton's Alpha Road estate resident, said: “It’s quite early days for the campaign, so we don’t have many people signed up yet but there [has been] a lot of opposition to the proposals.

“We aim to inform tenants about the arguments against the CHT proposals and put pressure on the council to give us a proper vote so that residents can make the decision and not have it imposed on us.

“The trust will need separate offices and dedicated staff, who currently also serve other roles within the council, and it won’t have the same economies of scale or the negotiating power that the council has when it comes to purchasing goods and agreeing contracts.

“This could result in less money being available to spend on housing and tenants receiving worse services.”

Kingston Council has said the CHT scheme, which had been modelled on Welwyn Hatfield’s also aimed to put residents in charge of running their homes five years ago.

But in April, the Tory-led council announced its CHT was under review with the possibility of housing being taken back under council control.

Kingston Council has countered the campaign group’s claims and said because the trust board would be made up mostly of council house tenants and leaseholders, members would be best-placed to know what would be right for the estates.

Councillor Cathy Roberts, cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “There is no requirement for a vote for a proposal of this type.

“The council has to make sure that it has made residents aware of the proposal and given them an opportunity to put forward their views.

“We are currently listening to residents' views and will take them into account in making a final decision.”

The council has been unable to say how many “pledges of support” would deem the proposal a success, but there are about 6,500 council residents who would be affected.

Kingston Federation of Residents has supported the proposed trust.

A public meeting attended by council representatives and hosted by the One Norbiton group to discuss the proposed Community Housing Trust will take place in Piper Hall in Piper Road, Kingston on Thursday, September 24 from 7pm.