Some 200 council tenants and trade unionists joined MPs at the Defend Council Housing (DCH) national conference last week. Many spoke about campaigning for the “fourth option” – direct public investment in council housing.
According to Alan Walter, chair of DCH, “There was a united message – we’ve all had enough of government bullying and blackmailing of tenants and councillors to accept one of their three privatisation options. We want the ‘fourth option’ – and sooner rather than later!”
The conference was in optimistic and determined mood. Austin Mitchell MP opened the conference, “I’ve never felt so optimistic about getting what we’ve been fighting for.
“Though change is in the air, I have to say, we won’t be fooled again! What we want is real substance.”
Jack Dromey, the Unite-T&G union deputy general secretary, Frances O’Grady, the TUC deputy general secretary, and Heather Wakefield from the Unison union all called for delegates to keep the pressure up on the government over the fourth option.
Margaret Wilkinson, a Labour councillor in Vale of Glamorgan, said, “Hazel Blears, Gordon Brown, it’s very nice of you to let us build council houses.
“But it is not enough to build them then just give them away. Stop this voting [to push through privatisation] – it’s not fair. We are entitled to the fourth option.”
Wilf Flyn, from the Ucatt building workers’ union, said, “The first step on any rational housing ladder is someone getting somewhere decent to live.
“With large numbers living in poor conditions there is only one answer – build some more council houses and do up the ones we’ve got.”