Anger at TV charges

PUBLISHED: 13:00 05 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:56 03 July 2010

COUNCIL tenants are angry they could be saddled with a 69p a week service charge to have digital television installed in their homes - even if they don't want it.

COUNCIL tenants are angry they could be saddled with a 69p a week service charge to have digital television installed in their homes - even if they don't want it.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is planning to install digital networks in 3,000 of its 6,000 properties to replace the current analogue system, which the government is set to switch off in 2011.

But to cover the cost of leasing the new digital system, the council's community housing department is considering levying a charge on tenants, which could rake in over £100,000 annually.

The council has begun a consultation process with tenants to gauge their opinions on the planned charge, but is warning the only alternative would be to cover the cost from rents, in which case all tenants would have to pay regardless of whether they received the new digital system.

However, tenant John Davies, of Belton, was angry about the extra charge, which equates to approximately £35 annually, believing it should be a one-off and the cost of maintaining the system was not enough to require weekly payments.

The 77-year-old, who already receives digital TV through his satellite dish, said he was having to fork out to have digital installed even though he did not need it and had been told by the council it was for the benefit of future tenants.

He said: “It just seems to me the whole thing has not been thought through. Once this charge is levied on top of the rent it is not a lot of money, but if you are looking at the total amount council tenants are paying it is a lot of money.”

Another tenant, Brian Twells, of Grove Close, Martham, said: “We currently pay £7.50 per annum for the analogue system, so this is a rise of 460pc. It's outrageous.”

Denis Gilbert, director of community housing at the council, said the council had looked into the possibility of buying the system, but decided leasing would be the cheaper option.

He added the digital system was more expensive to run and maintain than the analogue version and the weekly payments were to cover the cost of the contractors maintaining the system and any possible repair work.

He said the costs of the change had been properly worked out prior to going out to consultation.

The digital system is aimed at tenants in flats and maisonettes where a number of homes can be connected up, but tenants in individual houses will have to make separate arrangements.

Mr Gilbert said: “We have gone through a full costing exercise to establish all the alternatives. We have looked at all the alternative means of supply and we are satisfied this represents the best value for money.”

The results of the consultation are due in two or three weeks' time.

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