Labour conference backs 'level playing field' for council housing

Submitted by Janine on 2 October, 2004 - 11:29

From Defend Council Housing

  • Labour’s annual conference voted overwhelmingly to support a ‘level playing field’ for council housing this week.
  • Austin Mitchell MP has called for a moratorium on privatisation until the review is finished
  • DCH to produce new 8 page national broadsheet
  • National conference ‘Winning the fourth option’: Friday October 29, Congress House, London

The campaign for the fourth option took another big step forward this week when the alliance of tenants, trade unions, councillors and MPs won an overwhelming vote at Labour’s conference. The government has now agreed to conduct a ‘review’ (see DCH website)

"The deputy prime minister's policy of forcing councils to switch their homes to new management has been thrown into disarray after a humiliating defeat at the Labour party conference" Guardian Unlimitted. Monday’s Daily Mirror added its support arguing ‘Councils selling off estates to private firms must end’.

The vote is a major boost to the campaign for the ‘fourth option’ for council housing as an alternative to transfer, PFI and ALMOs and leaves the government totally isolated. The vote came after lengthy private negotiations between Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and leading trade unionists, councillors and party activists to try and reach agreement before the debate.

John Prescott conceded to the conference "Public funding of housing doesn't treat local authorities fairly" and told delegates several times that they were “near agreement”.

Housing Minister, Keith Hill, has said “We are continuing negotiation, a discussion, with the various interested parties... We are continuing the review as we promised to do”.

DCH is rushing out a new eight page national broadsheet – help make sure tenants in your area read it to see we’re winning an alternative to the bullying and blackmail to accept privatisation (£18 per 100 / £100 per 1000 copies.

The DCH National Conference ‘Winning the fourth option’ on Friday October 29 at the TUC’s Congress House in central London is an important opportunity for tenants, trade unionists, councillors and MPs to take the campaign forward. It will also be a unique opportunity for tenants to hear the arguments against stock transfer, PFI and ALMOs and the case for the ‘fourth option’. All local authorities claim they are committed to giving their tenants all available information as part of their stock options appraisal consultations. Ask your council to fund tenants to attend - they regularly send tenants to conferences promoting the government’s three options. If they refuse ask local unions to sponsor a delegation to support ‘real choice’ and a ‘fair and balanced’ debate (delegates fees: tenants £5, others £12).

It is clear that if the government is now reviewing policy that all councils should freeze their stock options appraisals until the alternatives are announced. Publicise the call by Austin Mitchell MP, chair of the House of Commons council housing group, “There should now be a moratorium on privatisation until the review is finished… We can’t have councils telling tenants this autumn there are only three options”.

Keith Hill expressed surprise that councils might not be giving tenants all the options and insisted they should!

If your council is in the process of setting up an ALMO or signing a stock transfer demand that they put this on hold!

Write to your MPs now calling on them to sign the two motions in Parliament - EDM 430 and EDM 1337