SOME 350 council tenants, councillors, MPs and trade unionists attended the Defend Council Housing conference last week. The campaign has won some significant victories against the government’s plans to sell off council housing.
This was shown by tenants in Cambridge voting by 79 percent to stay with the council after a ballot. A broadly based group, Tenants Against Privatisation, led the campaign.
Labour MP Frank Dobson told the conference, “The great advantage of council tenants is that councils are accountable. You can sling ’em out if you don’t like what they’re doing, and they can make democratic decisions.
“There was an eight to one vote at the Labour Party conference to give people what’s called the fourth option—to let council tenants remain council tenants if that’s what they want. And that’s what we should stick to.”
Alan Ritchie, general secretary of the Ucatt construction workers’ union, said, “We are winning the arguments, we are winning the campaigns, and I think we have won a major shift in government thinking.
“We now have to ensure that the pressure is kept up, so that we achieve genuine and substantial direct investment in council housing.”
Austin Mitchell MP called for the government to “stop the war against council tenants”.
The conference unanimously passed a motion calling for “direct investment in decent, affordable, secure and accountable council housing”, and opposing privatisation.
THE TEN tenants from Sandwell in the West Midlands who came to the Defend Council Housing conference thought it was great. Sandwell’s housing has recently gone over to an ALMO.
The attacks on tenants and trade unionists have already started.
On one estate in West Bromwich the ALMO and the Labour council have issued eviction notices to demolish perfectly sound housing. They aim to replace the estate with apartments for the upwardly mobile.
For one area in Sandwell the work to modernise the homes is being put out to a private firm. The tenants are now going to organise a public meeting.
For more on the conference go to www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk