Housing sale vote deferred

A VOTE on whether to push ahead with plans to sell off 10,500 council homes has been put on ice while Swindon Council considers new rules giving it access to millions of pounds of tenants’ rent.

The delay will give councillors a chance to review the Government’s new proposals, which will be fully revealed in late July, before they finally take their vote in September.

It comes after the Government announced that Swindon Council will soon gain access to all rent, rather than only a percentage, adding up to £9million in future yearly income.

The decision was made at the Civic Offices before a planned full council vote on whether to ballot tenants on a full housing stock transfer was to take place.

Coun David Renard, the cabinet member for housing and adult social care, said he hoped to further digest the numbers once the Government’s full plans came to light.

He said: “The Government hasn’t given us enough detail on the impact this would have on Swindon. In order to make the best decision possible we thought we would delay the vote in order to review the numbers.

“After some number crunching we will return to cabinet with the new numbers. I need to be able to make an educated recommendation to my colleagues on the matter.”

Coun Derique Montaut, the leader of the Labour group, said the group’s pressure had worked.

He said:

“This is essentially a U-turn. We have been pushing for this since the announcement from the Government came weeks ago.

We are pleased with the decision, but we need to keep up the pressure because it appears that the council has an agenda to move forward with a full housing stock transfer.”

Martin Wicks, from Swindon TUC, said pressure at the national level by the unions had facilitated the £9m in new funding.

He said: “The change of Government policy is a result of a big push on a national level. This is a victory for tenants because it means that the council has got to go back and look at the financial situation.

This means we have a greater chance to maintain the council’s housing stock in Swindon.

The Government has also approved the right to allow councils like Swindon to build council housing, which they haven’t been able to do since 1997.

There are bids going in at the minute.”

By Jeremy Grimaldi, Swindon Advertiser

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