Housing Vote update – A BALLOT WE CAN WIN

You will probably be aware that the ballot on whether or not to sell off our houses will go ahead. The Stage 2 letter informing tenants of the ballot has probably been sent out today. It was written and dated November 22nd, even before the Council had made a decision last night. As far as I am aware the ballot paper itself will go out next Monday, November 28th.

The ballot period is from December 1st to December 31st.

The feedback from the ‘consultation’ was reported to last night’s Council meeting. According to this 1,442 people sent back reply cards, although curiously there are no figures for other forms of reply.

The responses were said to be: 646 indicating they wanted to stay with the Council, 661 set up Swindon Housing Association, 107 not sure, 28 prefer not to say.

Even if you accept these figures can be trusted the least that can be said is that the Council’s massive propaganda campaign has not produced a brilliant result for them. Those people who thought that the Yes vote was in the bag have been proved wrong.

Given the 11% response it would be foolish to predict the outcome. However, from all our feedback and contact with tenants all over the town we know that the low level of response reflects a number of different attitudes.

  • Some tenants who do not pay rent consider that the outcome will make no difference to them and will probably not bother to vote.
  • Some tenants have not responded because they object to the Council asking them which way they are likely to vote.
  • Some tenants have told us that they have told the Council they have not made up their minds but that they will be voting No.
  • Some tenants think the Council will fiddle the vote so it does not matter whether they vote or not. This is the view that “it’s done and dusted”.
  • Some tenants think that the Council will “do it anyway” even if a majority vote No.

My instinct is that there are likely to be more No voters who have not responded to the consultation than people who are likely to vote Yes, though, of course, this could be wrong.

The least that can be said is the feedback shows that opponents of transfer have a chance of winning the ballot. I am personally convinced that a majority of tenants are opposed to transfer. The only question is whether most of them will vote. Such is the level of disenchantment with the powers that be that some people believe that the Council will go ahead with the transfer however the tenants vote. We have to continue to explain to them that this is not true. A transfer can only go ahead if a majority of tenants vote in favour of it. This is the message of our final leaflet which can be downloaded from the website (https://keepourcouncilhomes.wordpress.com/downloads/ Click on ‘dontwastevote‘).

So there is everything still to play for. We would therefore appeal to tenants who are opposed to transfer to keep up their conversations with neighbours and families and try to maximise the No vote. We will be giving out this leaflet at various places around the Council estates for the next couple of weeks. If you can help with leafleting please let us know as soon as possible. If you would like us to send you some leaflets email us at stcg@btinternet.com .

The Council’s campaign has definitely angered quite a lot of tenants who consider that they have been harassed. They have been inundated with material – Housing Matters, the DWA leaflet, the ‘offer document’, the DVD. They have had Council staff knock on their doors, they have had Council staff phone them up, and even text them. They may well have overdone it.

To those who have helped out with our leaflets, or simply tried to persuade tenants who they come into contact with, to vote No, our thanks. We need to sustain a ‘final push’ at least for the first two weeks after the ballot papers go out. Make no mistake this is a ballot that we can win and secure our Council tenancies. Swindon needs to maintain its Council housing and campaign for the building of more of it.

Martin Wicks

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