This is a letter published in the Swindon Advertiser in response to an inaccurate report of a meeting organised by STUC on the threat of transferrring our Council housing to a Housing Association.

I’m afraid that the report of the Swindon TUC meeting on Council housing contained a number of major errors. I did not say that we were trying to “galvanise enough support to force the Council to hold a ballot”. They would have to hold a ballot if they wanted to press ahead with stock transfer and a majority of tenants would have to vote in favour of it!

What I actually said was that in the consultation taking place, if sufficient tenants expressed their opposition to transfer, then the Council might not proceed with a ballot. If they held one and the tenants rejected transfer then Council tax payers would end up footing a bill of around £1 million.

David Renard, Cabinet member for Housing told me that if the tenants are shown to be opposed to transfer then he would accept that, although in his opinion they would have to recognise that they might not get as good a service as in the past. To a large extext that depends upon a government review on Council housing which is taking taking place at the moment. How much grant we get for management and maintenance costs and major repairs is part of that review. Trades unions and tenant organisations are pressing for funding which measures up to our actual needs.

The report said that “the yearly subsidy stands at £9 million a year”. The £9 million is in fact what the government takes from us. They give us £9 million less than the rent money we raise. This is what is referred to as a “negative subsidy”. There is a national campaign to enable all Councils to keep all the rent that their tenants pay. If the Council were able to keep this money then it is unlikely that they would be considering transfer to a Housing Association in the first place.

By the way there were 24 people at the meeting, not 15.

Readers can visit the website which has been set up to help the campaign to keep our Council homes at:

Martin Wicks

Secretary Swindon TUC