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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2007

Tenants vote no to council housing sell-off

COUNCIL TENANTS in Brighton and Hove have dealt a blow to New Labour's privatisation agenda. As have tenants in many other local authorities, they have voted by a massive 80% to stay as council tenants and to reject a new private housing association as their landlords.

Andy Clarke Brighton

The council spent over £1 million on glossy propaganda but failed to obscure the blatant facts exposed by anti-privatisation campaigners, that privatisation means higher rents, loss of secure tenancies, no guarantee of repairs being carried out and loss of democracy in the way the council housing is managed.

Brighton Socialist Party members played a key role in persuading the occupants of the city's 13,500 council homes to vote 'no' in the council's ballot. The tenants' mood was clear once the propaganda was exposed.

People know privatisation means a worse deal for them but big rewards for the fat cats in charge of the privatised companies. They want public resources such as council housing to stay public with direct investment and democracy brought to it to support the rundown resources.

The campaign was fought on the doorsteps of Brighton, with our supporters visiting tenants to explain what a vote for privatisation would mean. Socialist Party members were welcomed by tenants sick of council propaganda and officials who didn't dare visit them for fear of the reception they would receive.

The council's cowardly and scaremongering tactics were in contrast to our clear, concise message. We gave tenants the facts about the con of privatisation and showed them that an alternative approach was possible. The response was overwhelming and the victory a landslide.

Tenants are disillusioned with the council as landlords, following systematic running down of the houses, with repairs not carried out and promises broken. However they are aware that social housing is a key asset won by the working class and will fight to maintain it.

This fight will go on as the Labour council, in alliance with the Tory councillors, tries to force through the privatisation. The result provides a platform for the anti-privatisation movement to go further and demand the fourth option - the direct funding of council housing by central government.

And with local elections on the horizon, it highlights the need for proper working class representation to oppose the pro-privatisation neo-liberal parties who have proved themselves unable to stand up for the working class of the city.

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In The Socialist 15 March 2007:

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