CONFUSION surrounds the future of Hart Housing Association's head office in Fleet.

Hart councillor Peter Carr claimed that staff were told on April 16 that the office is to shut and that they will be moving to Basingstoke. He said the decision had been taken by the Basingstoke-based Sentinel group which took control of the association in April 2000.

"At that time they pledged the association would continue to operate from its offices in Fleet," he said. "They should keep that pledge."

According to his sources, the association's 2,400 tenants would be left with a small satellite office in Fleet. "There won't be anyone of authority to deal with their problems," said Coun. Carr.

His version of events was backed by fellow Conservative councillor Colin Hazell, who said it was bad news for the tenants. "I can see the move might be a good idea from an administrative point of view," he said, "but what the tenants will be left with in Hart is nothing more than a call centre."

But Martin Nurse, the Sentinel's chief executive, said they had got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

He admitted changes to the office set-up were being considered, but said the association would not be pulling out of Fleet. Some employees might move to Basingstoke, he conceded, but a final decision had not been made.

The aim of the exercise, he added, was to "harmonise" the activities of Hart Housing Association and Oakfern Housing, which is based at Basingstoke.

Mr Nurse said the outcome would be improvements to both tenant services and the provision of new housing.