Plans to move council housing services to a resident-led Community Housing Trust (CHT) were overwhelmingly rejected with a specially selected board claiming that Government cuts to social housing made introducing the scheme “morally wrong”.

Members of the Community Housing Trust Shadow Board voted 11-2 in favour of recommending putting the scheme on hold at Kingston’s Guildhall on Thursday, October 15.

The CHT had hoped to give council tenants more control of the running of social housing services.

Having overseen almost 18 months of efforts including door to door enquiries and a roadshow to develop the initiative, the recommendation to reject the trust comes as a blow to Kingston Council.

Board chairman David West said: “Initially we set out with great enthusiasm all believing that a CHT was a great opportunity which could be created for the benefit of all parties.

“Given that the Government’s unexpected and substantial rent reduction requirements will see millions cut from the council’s housing revenue account over the next four years, it would be morally wrong for us to continue to promise housing improvements from next year.”

Tenants in Sheephouse Way, Kingsnympton, Cambridge Road and Alpha Road estates would have been affected by the CHT.

But the board acknowledged the resident engagement campaign showed “low levels of resident support”.

Councillor Cathy Roberts, lead member for housing, had previously come under fire for speaking about the introduction of the CHT as inevitable during a public meeting last month.

But during the meeting she said: “The gods are against us I’m afraid. Nobody expected a CHT to have to start life by trying to create major service improvements in a climate of significant spending cuts. “If we are to provide the good housing services people need in the future, we will still need to make changes to the way those services are provided.”

She has pledged to release information on alternative options to a CHT in coming months.

There were suggestions however that plans to introduce a CHT could be revisited at a later date.

Councillor Maria Netley said: “We should go away from this thinking, not if, but when.

“We must stay positive as we are doing this for completely the right reasons and should the CHT come back into consideration we should do so properly.”

Resident shadow board member Geof Yates was disappointed to see the scheme rejected.

He said: “We are pulling the plug too early on this issue. We are not just a fair weather CHT, we have to go through the bad times.

“Regardless of the economic climate this recommendation is the wrong thing to do.”

A formal decision will be made by the Adults and Children’s Committee on Wednesday, November 11.