Council tenants in Swansea have delivered a resounding no to the council’s plans to transfer its entire housing stock to a private limited company.
Some 13,800 homes were up for grabs, and on a 56 percent turnout 72 percent of tenants voted no to the Lib Dem council’s plans.
Chair of Swansea Defend Council Housing Paul Lynch told Socialist Worker, “I am absolutely delighted that the overwhelming majority of tenants throughout Swansea have seen through the council’s one-sided pro-transfer propaganda.
“Tenants deserve to be congratulated for standing up to the bullying, and for effectively telling the council, the Welsh Assembly and Gordon Brown that we will not be blackmailed into privatisation.
“Well done to all those who have supported the Swansea Defend Council Housing campaign in achieving this crucial no vote. The strength and unity we created as a broad coalition of different groups just goes to show how effective we can be when we unite behind a common cause.”
Paul said that his involvement with this campaign has inspired him to continue defending public services. He and Ahmed Al Jeffrey have recently been selected as Welsh Assembly candidates for Respect in the South Wales West region.
“I look forward to campaigning to defend our hospitals, schools and pensions – and to working to secure direct investment to improve council housing,” said Paul.
Defeated the plans
“I hope political representatives from all parties will now join with tenants and other interested parties in lobbying the Welsh Assembly and the Westminster government to secure a level playing field for council housing. This should provide the same level of debt write-off and gap funding that was on offer under the Tawe Housing privatisation scheme.”
Matthew Shephard, publicity officer for City and County of Swansea Unison branch, says, “The council spent £1.4 million bombarding tenants with glossy broadsheets and DVDs pushing the privatisation case. A grassroots tenants’ and trade union campaign spending less than 1 percent of what the council had, has defeated the plans.
“Had the vote been yes, other council services would have been privatised too. This vote shows privatisation is not an unstoppable juggernaut but can be resisted and stopped.”
Only a small number of activists were involved when the campaign began. But it quickly grew to include members of Respect, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, the Labour Party and others.
Defend Council Housing, the national anti-privatisation campaign, has produced a new 12-page newspaper reporting on the latest developments in the campaign. They cost £18 per 100 or £100 per 1,000 copies.
Write to PO Box 33519, London E2 9WW, phone 020 7987 9989 or go to www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk