Council homes in Merton are set to be transferred to a new housing association, after tenants narrowly voted yes to the move.

The results of last week’s housing ballot were announced on Tuesday, with 53.2 per cent backing the transfer and 46.8 per cent opposing it. Only 60.5 per cent of affected residents took part in the poll.

Merton Council expects to transfer ownership and management of the homes, as well as existing housing staff, to the newly created not for profit organisation Merton Priory Homes by March 2010. The council needed a majority of residents to back the switch in order for it to go through.

The council said the move would lead to an investment of £129m in the properties over the next 10 years, unlock a £1m community fund and give residents power over neighbourhood improvement budgets worth £325,000 a year.

Jo Williams, the council’s head of housing, said she was “delighted” with the result. She said the 60 per cent turnout and narrow margin of victory did not undermine the mandate of the new organisation.

She added: “In the current climate, 60.5 per cent is pretty good. I’m confident that even people who voted no, or who opted not to vote, will be able to see the positive differences soon.”

Ms Williams said the promises made to residents during the campaign would now be put into a legal agreement between the council and Merton Priory Homes, that would be monitored while the transfer went through.

Councillor Linda Scott said: “The yes vote shows that tenants have listened to the proposals and made an informed decision to transfer. We are delighted with the result, which means the money will be available to improve homes, estates and services up to the standard we know residents want to see - the Merton Standard.”

Ann Moyies, chair of the shadow board of Merton Priory Homes, said: “Tenants should be congratulated for taking such a momentous decision. Next year it will be up to Merton Priory Homes to deliver the brighter future tenants voted for, continuing to work closely with tenants at every stage of the process.”

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