Socialist Worker

Housing campaigners win victory in Sandwell

by Tony Barnsley, joint assistant branch secretary, Sandwell Unison (pc)
Issue No. 2162

Sandwell Council in the West Midlands announced plans to build 28 council homes last week and is seeking £50 million to build a further 1,000 houses.

This represents a massive turnaround in the direction of the Labour controlled council.

In 1997 Sandwell was among the first to undertake a ballot for the stock transfer of 5,000 properties.

Tenants and trade unionists campaigned together against transferring people’s homes to the private sector and succeeded against the odds.

The efforts of all those involved in Defend Council Housing (DCH) campaigns around the country, and in particular Alan Walter, helped to stop the Government’s bid to end councils providing housing.

The recent government announcement that councils will now be allowed to keep all their rent money to invest in their housing is a welcome victory for tenants.

This is one of the main demands from the DCH campaign.

The real shame is that it has taken the Labour government 12 years to ditch the drive to privatise council housing and end the robbery of tenants rent money.

This is a wasted 12 years that comes at a huge price for all those needing and waiting for a council property.

Just think how many new energy efficient green council homes could have been built with a fraction of the money given to the banks in the recent bail-outs.

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