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Posted on 14 December 2001 at 13:07 GMT

Fight Housing Privatisation

WALTHAM FOREST council in east London have been promoting the transfer of the whole council housing stock (at present 13,44l properties) to an 'arms-length' company or to a housing association, not even discussing the option of staying with the council.

Louise Thompson, chair of Waltham Forest Council Tenants' Panel and chair of the Investment Working Group

There is not an even playing field - councils have been starved of money for years and there have been housing bills introduced and policies imposed to make council housing less and less feasible to maintain. This is not a natural phenomenon. There is money available and policies can be changed.

Housing associations and arms-length companies are allowed to borrow money to build new properties that previously councils would have borrowed. Furthermore the government is blackmailing councils by agreeing to pay off outstanding mortgages on housing stock so long as they transfer the housing stock to a housing association or company.

Waltham Forest council has already applied to be allowed to set up an arms-length company in order to access over 50 million. They are also proposing to transfer part of the borough's stock to London & Quadrant Housing Association.

At a recent consultation meeting tenants were asked to split into groups to discuss the options they were most interested in. About ten people joined the arms-length company group and two or three joined the transfer to a housing association group.

The vast majority of the tenants elected to stay in the main hall to continue discussing the option of staying with the council.

Tenants voted unanimously for further meetings to discuss the options more fully. They demanded the right to be consulted in their own areas and they also wanted local councillors to be made to attend the meetings to listen to tenants and leaseholders.

We oppose privatisation in any form but that doesn't mean we should put up with the current state of council housing.

We need councillors who will stand up and campaign against privatisation of all public services including housing and fight to secure the money that is available so that councils can eliminate the repairs and maintenance backlog and commence a building programme to meet the needs of ordinary people for safe, decent homes at fair rents.

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