A COUNCILLOR has hit out at the "unacceptable and extortionate" management transfer of 100 former Wirral council houses to the private sector.

Magenta Living, which took over ownership of all council housing stock in 2003, has formed a partnership with a St Helens-based association and set up a private lettings company called Bamboo Lettings.

As part of the deal Magenta will transfer 100 houses to Bamboo to let for five years as if they were private sector houses.

Magenta says the deal is necessary in an era of austerity and Government cuts.

But Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor for Oxton Stuart Kelly says the arrangement is unfair.

In a notice of motion to be debated during a full council meeting on Monday night, he calls on Magenta to suspend the transfers while the council investigates the proposed use of social housing stock.

Councillor Kelly told the Globe: "This move is completely wrong.

"These former council houses are social houses and should be let at social rents to those in need.

"Transferring 100 of them to the private sector to be let at higher rents is not acceptable at a time when there are 17,000 people waiting for affordable homes.

"I am also appalled that the transferred homes are subject to controversial ‘lettings fees’ - all too common unfortunately in the private sector.

"These charges are exorbitant and bear no relationship to the service offered."

Paul Anson, director of business growth for Magenta, said: "We have built around 600 new affordable rented homes since transfer and have a plan to build another 750 affordable homes in the next five years.

"Magenta Living also provides a range of services to tenants that go beyond just letting and maintaining homes.

"However in an age of austerity and cuts to social and affordable rents we need new ways to financially support our social investments and activities.

"The board of Magenta Living has agreed as part of our response that we need to replace lost grant and income in the future.

"Magenta Living has a strategy to slowly and carefully generate new income streams which will be used to support our social purpose aims.

"Bamboo is part of this strategy which will see all proceeds from Bamboo going into a ring-fenced account so that they can be used for the benefit of social housing in Wirral.

"It is not our intention to ever sell the houses to Bamboo, just lease up to 100 of our 12,500 properties to them over the next five years."