Update on Colne merger consultation

Update on Colne merger consultation
6th April 2020 James Calnan

Our resident consultation on our proposed merger with Colne Housing concluded on Sunday, 22 March. Chief Executive Emma Palmer has written to everyone who took part and expressed an interest in receiving feedback. Below is a summary of that letter.

Firstly, thank you for taking part in our consultation. The world we live in has changed considerably since we launched a consultation period for this proposed merger, and our primary focus now is on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of residents and staff at this incredibly difficult time. However, we strongly believe that bringing our two organisations together as one would allow us to be far better placed to meet the challenges we will all face in years to come.

Overall, we have received more than 130 responses. Feedback has been received by letter, via our website, through social media and from questions raised at our consultation events. As a Community Gateway Association, we know that the best way to get things right is to listen to and act on your views.

We received a lot of support, some concerns and plenty of questions about our proposed merger with Colne Housing. One of the comments which came up time and time again was that you supported our intentions but had understandable concerns that the quality of services you receive would decline if we became a bigger organisation.

We agree that bigger doesn’t always mean better. However, if the merger is approved, becoming a bigger organisation would result in savings to us through areas including refinancing, procurement, and bringing more services in-house.

These savings would allow us to do the following, over and above what we are already planning to do:

  1. Fund greater investment in your homes, including replacing kitchens and bathrooms sooner than currently planned
  2. Invest an extra £500,000 in community improvements
  3. Build up to 1,300 extra homes. The number will depend on decisions such as how many homes we build for social rent or how eco-friendly they will be
  4. Create a Resident Academy to empower a new generation of residents to get involved with and shape our proposed new organisation

Next steps

The Boards of Greenfields and Colne will decide if the merger goes ahead. What we are proposing is that Colne’s assets, including all homes, will transfer into Greenfields’ ownership.

We are not proposing to change any Terms and Conditions, such as your right to be a shareholding Member of Greenfields. That’s why the ultimate decision of whether to proceed will rest with the Boards of Greenfields and Colne.

Greenfields’ Board has always been clear that this merger will only go ahead if it will result in improvements for residents and that they would think again if widespread opposition to the proposals was voiced. The Board will receive your feedback and will consider it before making their decision later in April. If they approve the merger, it will formally take place on 1 July 2020.

New name

We recognise the name Greenfields has meaning to many. However, this proposed merger is an exciting new beginning and an opportunity to take the best aspects of Greenfields and Colne into the new organisation.

Around 200 Greenfields and Colne residents have filled in an online survey or taken part in workshops to help shape this new identity. Staff and the Boards of both organisations have done the same, and what will be proposed will reflect everyone’s input.

If you are a shareholding member of Greenfields, you will be invited to vote in May on a proposal to change our name to something that reflects our aim: to create a new and better organisation for you.