Council Housing – Open Letter to Conservative Group

Swindon Trades Union Council Press Release June 18th 2009

An Open Letter to the Conservative ruling group of Swindon Borough Council

Swindon TUC has written an Open Letter to the Conservative Group which runs Swindon Borough Council. It deals with the proposal to ballot tenants for a transfer of Swindon’s Council Housing to a Housing Association. This proposal will be put to the full Council meeting on July 16th.

It poses a number of number of questions to the Conservative Group:

  • Why are they proposing to ballot tenants when (according to the Advertiser) after all the money and effort trying to convince tenants that “there is no alternative” they were only able to convince 191 tenants to tick a box in support of transfer? Is this not an insufficient basis to proceed?

  • Why when the chances are that there will be a Conservative government elected within a year are they proposing to ballot Council tenants with a view to transferring our Housing to a Housing Association? Why the hurry when their assessment is based on a 30 year time-frame?

  • The ruling group is calling on the current government to allow the Council to keep all the rent which we receive. Have they pressed their own Party leadership to make a commitment to end this “negative subsidy” when they are elected? If so, what in their Party’s response? If not, why not?

  • Should the ballot of tenants go ahead are they prepared to make a commitment that tenants will receive material from the campaign against transfer so that they can hear the arguments for and against?

Swindon TUC Secretary and tenant, Martin Wicks said:

Despite a one-sided consultation in which the Council told tenants’ that there was “no alternative” to transfer, the Council has only been able to convince a tiny minority of tenants, barely more than 20% of those who expressed an opinion.

The Conservative Group say that they have to move to a transfer because of the “negative subsidy” whereby Swindon gets £9 million a year less in grant from the government than it raises in rent. We support such a demand, however, unless the ruling group is demanding the same from its own Party leadership, then this is only a convenient stick with which to beat Labour.

The housing crisis will not be addressed by transferring our homes to a Housing Association. We need more Council homes not less. A Council house building programme would address this need and put thousands of unemployed building workers back to work.

If the ballot is to go ahead then we will campaign for rejection of transfer. All tenants should be aware that their vote will determine what happens. They have the opportunity to stop the proposal.

We are demanding of the Council that tenants get the opportunity to hear the case against as well as their arguments for transfer.”

Tenants wishing to get involved in the campaign against transfer should ring 07786 394593, or email swindondch@btinternet.com

They can visit the website keepourcouncilhomes.wordpress.com for information on the campaign against tranfer which is taking place all over the country.

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