Swindon Trades Union Council’s February meeting was devoted to a discussion on the threat of transfer of the town’s Council Housing to a Housing Association.
Peter Allenson, a national officer for the union UNITE, offered the support of the national union. Paul Burnham spoke on behalf of the national Defend Council Housing campaign which brings together the trades union and tenants organisations throughout the country.
Hugh Kirkbride, Swindon District Secretary of UNITE, reported that the union’s District Committee had agreed to support a campaign against transfer. Bob Cretchley, Secretary of Thamesdown UNISON gave the support of his union, some of whose members carry out the maintenance work on the local housing stock.
It was agreed to set up a Swindon Defend Council Housing campaign (SDCH) to oppose transfer, to keep our Council homes and to campaign for sufficient funding to maintain and improve the stock.
Swindon Council will shortly be organising a series of consultation meetings in local areas, where Council tenants will have the opportunity to have their say. When this happened in the first ‘options appraisal’ more than 5 years ago, the overwhelming majority of tenants expressed their opposition to transfer.
Cabinet member David Renard (responsible for housing) has said that if the consultation shows that tenants want to stay with the Council then he would recommend that they do not proceed with a ballot. Should the Council organise a ballot and the tenants reject transfer then the town’s tax payers will be stuck with a bill of around ￡1 million.
Swindon TUC secretary (and tenant) Martin Wicks said:
“The consultation provides tenants with the opportunity to express their opposition to transfer and to bring to a halt the ‘options appraisal’. This would in our view be the best outcome for tenants.
Should the issue go to a ballot then we will campaign for a No vote.”
Swindon DCH brings together local trades unions and tenants from sheltered accommodation, from Park North, Park South, Penhill, and Pinehurst. We are just at the start of the campaign, so we hope to involve tenants from all the estates.
What can you do?
If you are a tenant opposed to transfer we can:
● send you leaflets to give out to your friends and neighbours
● send you a window poster opposing transfer
Make sure you
● attend the local meetings to be organised by the Council to express your opposition to transfer
● write to your councillor opposing transfer, pressing them to oppose it
● write to your MP calling for them to support the right of Councils to keep all the rent money we receive from tenants
If you are interested in getting involved in the campaign email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 496816 or 07786 394593
Visit our website at: http://keepourcouncilhomes.wordpress.com