Socialist Worker

Devon tenants reject transfer

Issue No. 1990

Mid-Devon Defend Council Housing campaigners celebrate their victory (Pic: Defend Council Housing)

Mid-Devon Defend Council Housing campaigners celebrate their victory (Pic: Defend Council Housing)

Tenants of Mid-Devon District Council voted overwhelmingly against plans to transfer their homes out of council ownership this week.

More than 75 percent of the 3,045 tenants who voted in the ballot were against transferring housing stock to a housing association. Turnout for the ballot was 78 percent.

“This is a really fantastic result from a great campaign that brought lots of people together,” said Patricia Rowe, an activist with the Mid-Devon anti-transfer campaign. “We were able to bring people over who had previously been won by the council’s arguments.

“Tenants’ Choice was set as as an alternative to the council’s propaganda.

“The council’s own literature was so one sided they initially agreed to send out a Tenants’ Choice leaflet with their own.

“But they changed their minds after advice from the office of the deputy prime minister. The mix-up was good for us in the end though, as it meant the ballot was held up by a couple of months.”

The campaign attracted support from some unlikely quarters.

Patricia added, “One Conservative councillor became an independent so that he could help fight the sell-off of council homes.”

Alan Walter, national chair of Defend Council Housing, said the Mid-Devon ballot result showed that tenants will vote against transfer if they were made aware of the real arguments and the growing national campaign for a “fourth option” of direct investment in public housing.

He urged the government to speed up a new review initiated by Labour’s national policy forum and announce detailed proposals for a fourth option.

“DCH will be working to ensure that tenants in other areas hear all the arguments and that the fourth option becomes a major issue in the local elections on 4 May,” he added.

Tenants held a protest last week in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, where an arms length management organisation (Almo) has been running the council’s housing stock since May last year.

“Waiting lists for houses were thrown out of the window when the Almo took over,” Dave Newey, chair of Defend Council Housing in Rotherham, told Socialist Worker.

“The waiting lists were replaced with a bidding system – and you now have as many as 200 people bidding for one house.

“The turnout at the protest rally was great and everyone involved in the campaign should give themselves a big pat on the back.”

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Sat 4 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1990
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