Northern Ireland news

Tenants of troubled charity Victoria Housing Estates to hold protest

Steven Lavery with Riverdale and Finaghy Tenants' Association chairman Joby Fox. Picture by Mal McCann

TENANTS of a troubled housing charity are to picket its offices in Co Down today in protest at the state of their homes.

Joby Fox from Riverdale and Finaghy Tenants' Association claimed homes in the Riverdale estate in Andersonstown, west Belfast, which are owned by Victoria Housing Estates (VHE), have issues with damp, leaking roofs and poor wiring.

VHE manages 420 properties, including in Harmin Estate in Glengormley, Co Antrim and Worcester Avenue in Bangor, Co Down.

The charity is owed more than £12 million by businessman Derek Tughan.

A lengthy investigation by the Charity Commission (CCNI) has found the former VHE trustee lent £13m to companies in which he had an interest.

More than £12m of the money has never been repaid.

The tenants' association is to hold a picket outside VHE's office in Holywood at 10am.

Mr Fox said tenants were "running out of patience".

"The current management has had control of VHE for three years and we were dismayed to hear them refer to themselves as the 'new board' in the recent press reports," he said.

"VHE insists on full rent and their staff are paid handsomely, yet they can't find the money to upgrade and maintain our homes."

The charity is taking legal action against Mr Tughan and fellow trustees Jill Robinson and Ron Woods to recoup money.

The CCNI probe noted that Mr Woods is disputing its accuracy and is defending the case.

Dawn Purvis, chief executive of VHE, said last week the charity has introduced a new repair programme.

She said it will take £21m to bring the charity's homes up to a decent standard.

It also faces a tax bill of around £2.8m because its assets were not solely used for charitable purposes.

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