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Sedgefield tenants Vote No to Privatisation

http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk


 

60% of tenants in Sedgefield have voted against the council selling off their homes on a 73% turnout. It shows that where we organised an effective local campaign we can give tenants the confidence to stand up to the blackmail and bullying.

     The council proposed selling 9,000 homes to Sunderland Housing Group. SHG spent a small fortune (reportedly £720,000) trying to get their hands on Sedgefield's homes with a sustained campaign of glossy material, DVDs and endless door to door canvassing to try and win tenants' support.

But Sedgefield's council tenants have made it clear that they want to remain as council tenants. They refused to give up their secure tenancies and lower rents for promises and have voted to insist that the council keep and improve their homes themselves.

The result adds to the pressure on Ministers following the House of Commons Council Housing groupís report, a well attended adjournment debate in Parliament and the Audit Commissionís report calling for a review of housing finance. Faced with strong opposition from tenants around the country, all the major trade unions and increasing numbers of Councils and MPs it is only a matter of time now before the government is forced to announce a change of policy.

Alan Walter, chair of Defend Council Housing, said on hearing the result:

"This vote shows how deeply unpopular privatisation of council housing is amongst tenants. John Prescott should now keep the promise he made at the Labour Party conference last September and agree a 'level playing field'. We're willing to sit down with him and the Prime Minister to constructively work out a formula that allows all council tenants to choose to remain with the council and get the improvements to our homes."

All local authorities are supposed to submit their 'stock options' intentions by July 27. 71 have already decided to retain their homes. Many others, including Birmingham, Southwark and Camden - where tenants have also voted No - are backing the campaign for the 'fourth option'. Those councils proposing to sell off their homes or go for the 'two-stage' privatisation option of ALMOs are likely to face strong resistance from an alliance of tenants, trade unions, councillors and MPs.

 

July 2005

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