PENSIONERS have accused council bosses of hitting them with roof repairs bills of thousands of pounds for work they don't want.

Now Hyndburn MP Greg Pope has stepped in to try and resolve the dispute on behalf of distraught residents in Brown Birks Road, Huncoat.

Hyndburn Council sent letters to residents in the 54, two-storey flats in March, saying it planned to carry out roof repairs, which have now begun.

Council tenants will have their share of the £200,000-plus bill paid by the authority.

But residents of nine flats which have been bought from the council have been told they each face a £5,206 bill as they were sold "leasehold" and the council retains overall control of the buildings.

Today Hyndburn Council said it had referred the dispute to the national Leasehold Valuation Tribunal -- but warned people to be aware of the obligations that go with leasehold tenure.

Bill Hadfield, 64, who owns a ground floor flat, said: "Hyndburn Council said that it wanted to re-roof all the flats at a total cost of over £200,000.

"Those who still live in flats owned by the council will have their share paid by the council but those of us who have bought our own homes will have to pay -- even though we don't want the work doing.

"At 64, I am one of the younger ones, and we cannot afford to pay. I have rung the council many times and all they tell me is that they are sorry but I will have to find it or they will charge interest on the amount until the day the flat is sold so they can recoup the money through the sale."

Mr Pope said he was due to speak with council bosses and the Minister of State for Housing, Hill.

He said: "This raises a whole lot of issues about consultation with home owners.

"Work has been carried out on the roofs when there was nothing wrong with the existing ones and I would also like to know why the work has cost so much.

"If a council can just decide unilaterally and impose its decisions on people who have bought their own homes I will be very concerned. A spokesman for Hyndburn Council, said: "This is part of the council's commitment to achieve the government's Decent Homes Standard. The flats were identified in a survey in 2003 as being at the end of their normal life of 50 years, and in poor condition, with a number of homes suffering from raining-in.

"The council has applied to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal for an adjudication on these issues, and expect to hear from them early in 2005.

"We have undertaken statutory consultation procedures, held two meetings with affected leaseholders, and offered advice as to sources of finance and facilities for charging."