TENANTS of more than 1,600 homes on Torridgeside have new landlords following the official transfer of the district council's housing stock to newly-formed Tarka Housing. The transfer follows a year of planning and a ballot of tenants, which came out strongly in favour of the move. Seventy former council housing staff have transferred to Bideford-based Tarka, which will work in partnership with established housing provider Westward Housing within the Westward Housing Group. The move will bring cost savings for the district council, while Tarka's greater ability to find funding and invest is seen as an opportunity to improve both the quality and provision of the district's social and affordable housing. Tarka officially took on the former council homes at a launch ceremony at its new offices in Gammaton Road, East-the-Water, Bideford, on Thursday. The ceremony included carol singing by children of East-the-Water School, the unveiling of a plaque by chairman of the Tarka board Sue Jones and the cutting of a cake by Bideford's mayor Cllr David Ratcliffe. Tightrope Torridge District Council chief executive, John van de Laarschot, said: "Like many public bodies, Torridge needs to navigate a treacherous and challenging tightrope, balancing on the one hand the needs and aspirations of our communities and, on the other, limited financial resource. "The successful transfer of our housing stock to Tarka Housing will enable us to better meet this challenge by reducing the financial burden on the council, while simultaneously improving the provision and quality of social and affordable housing through Tarka's greater ability to invest." Tarka Housing chairman Sue Jones said: "Tenants in Torridge have already said they are reassured that we are going to be working in partnership with a well respected and established organisation like Westcountry, while retaining our independence. Tarka will start delivering its promises to tenants and help meet the needs of local people from day one.