THE leader of the borough council has said he is ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the announcement that a disability charity is set to merge with a housing association later this year.

As previously reported, housing association Aster Group has announced that the disability charity Enham Trust is set to join its group, subject to consultation and final approval in the autumn.

Enham Trust’s care home facilities recently received an ‘inadequate’ rating from the Care Quality Commision, and pledged to improve. 

READ MORE: Disability charity Enham Trust to merge with Aster housing association

Reacting to the news, Cllr Phil North, leader of Test Valley Borough Council, said: “I was surprised and somewhat disappointed by the announcement yesterday that Enham Trust is proposing to merge with Aster Group, subject to consultation and final approval. I am, therefore, trying to set up an urgent meeting with the interim chief executive and the chairman of the trust to find out exactly what form that consultation will take and what say Enham residents will get in the decision. 

“Considering the interim nature of the current chief executive’s tenure, I’m also surprised that this decision has been taken now rather than waiting for his successor.”

Cllr North added that he is “partially reassured” by the fact that Enham Trust will continue as its own separate charity and retain its brand, services, heritage and history, but added: “I’m concerned that the local and unique ethos of the trust could get swallowed up by a much larger organisation. 

“Enham is a fantastic charity with a proud history, albeit with some recent difficulties, but it’s not always been that great at communicating effectively with the village and the wider public. Something I’ve made clear to multiple chief executives and directors. I say that as someone who is a friend of the charity and who has raised a lot of money for them. Some progress was made under the previous chief executive but it seems a backwards step has been taken by making this announcement without a clear plan for consultation and setting out all the details.” 

READ MORE: Enham Trust disability charity care homes rated ‘inadequate’ by Care Quality Commission

Voicing his support for all those residents feeling unsettled by the recent news, he added: “I’ve already heard from a number of people who live in the village but I would encourage any resident of Enham Alamein - whether they’re Enham tenants or not - to contact me with their views. 

“I can then feed these in when I meet the interim chief executive and chairman of trustees.”

Meanwhile, Leslie Francis, chair of Enham Alamein Parish Council, also urged residents to engage with the consultation process.

She said: "We will support the trust and all of the residents through this process. A letter has been given to each individual resident. It has given an explanation and they have the ability to enter a dialogue. 

"Everyone will have their own positions and individual concerns as it's a big step and Aster is a big company, but I think they must take this opportunity to express these, ask questions and give suggestions, any comment at all. It's really important."

A message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support.

Subscribing means you have unrestricted access to the latest news and reader rewards - all with an advertising-light website.

Don't take my word for it – subscribe here to see for yourself.

Looking to advertise an event? Then check out our free events guide.

Want to keep up with the latest news and join in the debate? You can find and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.