Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/432/5084
Lewisham: Socialist Party takes up the fight against ALMOs
LEWISHAM COUNCIL, like other authorities is trying to sell off our council homes to housing associations, PFI or arms length management organisation (ALMO) bodies. Socialist Party members oppose these plans.
Roger Shrives, Lewisham Socialist Party
For some weeks we have been using a petition from our two councillors Ian Page and Chris Flood, which nearly everyone we spoke to signed, demanding a fourth option.
Lewisham council recently announced that they have appointed a 'shadow ALMO board' and aim to set up an ALMO company over the next few months.
The council claims that ALMOs give tenants and leaseholders a bigger say. But the board that will manage many of our homes is designed to make sure that the seven tenants' and leaseholder reps on this board are in a minority. Most places go to appointed councillors (Blairites at present) and business representatives.
Business people on this board include one from Impart Links Ltd, whose website describes them as "a specialist partnering consultancy providing services to all sectors of the construction industry" including contractors, developers, suppliers and sub-contractors. However, getting 'best value' for a contractor - ie higher profits - isn't the same as getting best value for tenants!
Then there is a business analyst on the ALMO board from Horizon Housing Group, an "umbrella organisation for a number of social landlords and businesses" managing 15,000 homes in London, Surrey and Sussex.
Tellingly, a couple of years ago a "poor Audit Commission Inspection result at SLFHA Ltd" (a member of the Horizon Group) "led to SLFHA Ltd and the Group being put into Intervention Level Supervision by the Housing Corporation."
Shouldn't Lewisham tenants have a vote on whether we want Horizon business analysts managing our homes?
Another company rep is from Richmond Housing Partnership, a property management company. And then there's a representative from London and Quadrant Housing Trust, the Housing Association that decided to build a 38-plot development on a Deptford park despite objections from most local residents.
ALMOs are definitely not an exercise in democracy for tenants! The business elements will surely be pushing for more sell-offs and the Blairite councillors on the board won't resist them.
In Telegraph Hill ward we can fight these backdoor privatisation plans by voting Socialist Alternative in May's elections.
In The Socialist 23 March 2006: