The district council which aims to have its operations carbon zero by 2030 is continuing a “wasteful” policy of binning carpets from its properties ahead of new tenants arriving, a meeting has heard.
A meeting of Independent and Liberal Democrat coalition-run Richmondshire District Council heard the practice was continuing despite councillors having agreed under the previous Conservative administration to stop stripping out carpets from the authority’s properties each time they were to be re-let.
Councillor Stuart Parsons has called for an inquiry by the council’s scrutiny committee saying housing officers had been told to speak to upcoming tenants about whether they wished to retain the carpets as it would save a lot of time and effort.
When the issue was raised in November 2018, the council said it tried to inspect properties before tenants moved out and if carpets were found to be in a satisfactory condition and the outgoing tenant wanted to leave them, the authority would agree to that.
However, the authority stated leaving carpets was uncommon as often carpets were “not in a condition that would allow them to be left in the property” or they needed to be removed if the previous tenant had pets.
Councillors branded the policy “too stupid to be true” and “completely gaga” after hearing charities were facing mounting demands on their resources as incoming tenants could not afford to fit properties with carpets as well as fund the other expenses of moving to a new home.
It emerged small charities such as the Reverend Matthew Hutchinson’s charity were helping cover costs of about £1,000 to carpet a three-bedroom home and many incoming tenants were prepared to pay to have carpets cleaned instead.
One charity in the district said carpets in excellent condition that were just a couple of months had been old thrown out from one council house, despite pleas from the incoming tenant to keep them, They said incoming tenants with children had no option but to pay for new carpets due to fears of injuries from the sharp grippers left behind on the floor.
While questions have been raised over the council’s actions since declaring a climate emergency and approving a move to study the amount of plastics it uses in July last year, concerns have been mounting over the environmental impact of carpets, despite some manufacturers claiming they can save up to 15 per cent on heating bills.
Nylon carpets are often considered to offer the best combination of affordability, performance, and decreased environmental impact, but making a typical nylon-based carpet for a small two-bedroomed house demands the equivalent energy of 80 gallons of petrol.
Cllr Parsons told the meeting he had recently had to sign a cheque for a charity to pay £700 to carpet a property where new carpets had been laid just six months before.
He said: “Lo and behold we are carrying on stripping out carpets from flats and houses without speaking to the possible incoming tenants about whether they wish to keep them.”
The meeting heard senior officers had voiced views that “from a management point of view” it was easier to take carpets out and start new tenancies with fresh ones.