Martin Wicks email to Russell Holland

Russell, a question if I may. Why has the Council not informed tenants of the consultation results – the actual figures – staying with the Council, transferring, etc?

Russell Holland to Martin Wicks

The consultation results to the offer document were provided in full Council – the document was available at the meeting but I attach it for your reference.

MW to RH

Russell I have the document. I was there, remember? The question was why have you not informed tenants of the result? If you cannot answer that question it looks a little suspicious.

RH to MW

The document is in the public domain. The decision for Council was whether or not to proceed to ballot and that debate took place at a public meeting and a vote took place. The result of that vote was to proceed to ballot. Tenants will be aware of the result of that decision because a ballot is now taking place.

MW to RH

They will not know the number of responses – 646 for staying with the Council 661 for going over to a Housing Association, will they? Why have you not informed them of these figures?

RH to MW

The information is in the public domain. The Council has taken advice at each stage of the process to ensure that its actions have been fair and in accordance with the Government guidance. The Council did provide a detailed response to issues raised during the consultation process in the Stage 2 letter.

Also, just so you are aware, if you need any further help you are welcome to contact Swindon Borough Council to ask any questions. Or, if you would like advice, from an organisation that is completely independent of the Council you can also contact DWA – I posted the contact numbers on the facebook page.

MW to RH

“In the public domain”. I don’t think so Russell. Appendix A is not on the Council website as of today, December 4th. In what sense is in the public domain?

How will 13,000 tenants know about Appendix A when they weren’t at the meeting and it is not on the website? And the Adver journalist present was not given it – I know this because I asked him why he did not include the responses in his article.

RH to MW

I will ask for Appendix A to be added to the Council website.

Comment

Why has the Council not informed tenants of the full results of their consultation? You would have thought it was a legitimate question would you not? But in 4 emails Mr Holland avoids answering my question. I suppose you could only conclude that it was either a mistake, or the Council decided not to provide this information to the tenants. So I can understand Mr Holland’s reluctance to answer the question.

We have been told by Bernie Brannan, the Director responsible for housing that the housing vote process has been “open and transparent”. Yet in the Stage 2 letter which was sent to tenants, notifying them that a ballot would go ahead, Mr Brannan spends all his time explaining the benefits of transfer, yet the actual feedback figures are missing.

But fear not, everything which the Council has done has been checked to ensure “its actions are fair and in accordance with the Government guidance”. Ever helpful Mr Holland informs me that I can contact the Council to ask any questions. After all he is only the Lead Member for Housing what would he know? Or, of course, I can contact that guardian of tenants rights the ‘independent’ tenants advisor DWA, selected from a short-list of one! The best tenants advisor that money can buy.

Is this an example of the arrogance of power? It’s certainly the response a man trying to avoid answering a question.

One thing is clear, that Mr Holland and the Council have failed to inform tenants of the results of the consultation. Why would they refuse to? Because the results were an indication that the ballot might not go their way. This information could have a bearing on the outcome of the ballot. Some of those tenants who thought the result would be stitched up by the Council (that “they’ll do it anyway”) might have realised that the Council could lose the ballot after all; that opponents of transfer were in with a chance of winning the vote. This is the reason why the Council has chosen not to publish the results. It is the final indication that, far from being indifferent to the outcome of the ballot, they want and have worked for a Yes vote. If there is some other reason why they did not provide this information to tenants, then why has Mr Holland refused to tell us why?

Martin Wicks

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