Defend council housing
ENGLAND'S BIGGEST council landlord is in turmoil over plans to privatise all its 90,000 homes. Birmingham council leader Albert Bore only kept his job by one vote as the city's ruling Labour group split down the middle over housing privatisation and other plans.
Bore is an enthusiast for privatisation, which is part of the New Labour government's drive to end council housing through "stock transfers" to private landlords. Across the country this drive has provoked resistance among tenants, council trade unions and increasingly within Labour's own ranks. For many local Labour Party members, councillors and some MPs it is one privatisation too far. In Birmingham Bore won 33 votes in the Labour group, against 32 for his two challengers.
Stewart Stacey stood on a variety of issues including the transfer plan and got 29 votes, while another councillor, Mike Rice, got three votes. Labour's deputy council leader, Andy Howell, who supports housing privatisation, faced a major challenge. He held off anti-privatisation challenger Douglas McCarrick by 35 votes to 30.
"It was a very close run thing. I think it indicates the Labour group are far from convinced on the stock transfer issue," says McCarrick. "It's a struggle that is going to continue." The rift in Birmingham's Labour group is a signal to anti-privatisation campaigners to step up the fight against the government's plans. This weekend a key step in the fight is the national Hands off our Homes conference in Manchester. Everyone should go.
TENANTS ON Shirecliffe estate in Sheffield staged a rooftop protest on Wednesday of last week against proposals to demolish thousands of homes on their estate. Meanwhile Sheffield's Liberal Democrat led council is pressing ahead with plans for the transfer of Sheffield's 60,000 council homes to the private sector. Tenants are planning a march opposing privatisation to a council meeting on 6 December.
COUNCIL TENANTS in High Wycombe, who stopped the transfer of all 7,150 homes in a ballot in August, are facing a new attack. The council wants to redevelop and privatise 145 flats on the Star Blocks estate. Amazingly, the council wants to do this without even holding a ballot. The issue dominated the tenants conference attended by around 30 people in the town last Sunday.
Hands off our homes
Manchester 2000 national conference Saturday 21 October, 11am-4.30pm, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester Details and registration from Defend Council Housing, c/o Haggerston TA, 179 Haggerston Road, London E8 4JA. Phone 020 7275 9994 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org