John Marais, a leading campaigner against privatisation of Council Housing reports on a big No vote by South Cambridgeshire tenants against transfer

South Cambridgeshire tenants have kicked out plans to transfer their homes out of council control with a decisive 72 per cent No vote on a 73 per cent turnout.

Everyone should rejoice at the brilliant spectacle of an obvious underdog, a tenants campaign supported by a handful of principled opposition councillors and depending on a few hundred pounds of voluntary contributions, comprehensively thrashing an obdurate, arrogant council spending over £750,000 to fund the usual plethora of consultants, propaganda road shows and endless glossy leaflets, not to mention two DVDs for every home.

The justified euphoria of victorious tenants will not soften their equally justified anger at the scandalous waste of money on a privatisation attempt held with total disregard for the forthcoming housing finance review, the purpose of which, according to the Housing Minister, is to “ensure that we have a sustainable, long-term system for financing council housing.”

There really must be a moratorium imposed on any other councils indulging in such an unseemly rush for transfer, at least until the review is published and there has been full consideration, discussion and feedback between government, councils and tenants.

Even where tenants have voted for transfer, it has usually been with great reluctance in the face of unfair financial handicaps which appeared to jeopardise the future of council housing.

Now that everyone agrees at last that their should be a “level playing field” for housing finance, politicians of all stripes should publicly guarantee their future support for tenants’ clear aspirations to continue enjoying decent, affordable, secure and democratically accountable council housing, without being financially blackmailed into privatisation.

JOHN MARAIS
Cambridge

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