This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser

Housing Matters is propaganda, not ‘neutral information’

Councillor Russell Holland told the Advertiser that the special issue of Housing Matters had been “approved” by the Independent Tenant Advisor. Tenants should not be misled. The ITA will check material for accuracy, it does not mean it has agreed with the content.

Mr Holland failed to tell readers one important thing. The ITA asked the Council to remove pro-transfer comments by a tenant from this issue. If the Council is supposed to be providing impartial information why were these comments there in the first place?

When asked by the Advertiser why some tenants were opposed to selling off our homes, the Director of Housing said that people didn’t like change, and they did not have the “full facts”. Housing Matters certainly doesn’t give the full facts but only some carefully selected by the Council to bolster the case for transfer. Other inconvenient facts have been left out.

Why has the Council not told tenants how much the transfer will cost? Why have they been reluctant to admit that they themselves told the government it would cost £197.5 million? Why have they not told tenants how much extra money the Council will have a we will be able to keep all the rent our tenants pay, instead of having to hand some of it over to the government (the so-called ‘negative subsidy’)?

Tenants should be aware that the Council will spare no expense (its our money they are spending!) nor effort to campaign for a Yes vote. But they are supposed to follow statutory guidance introduced in 2009 which says that they should provide ‘neutral information’ rather than trying to sell the idea of transfer. This issue of Housing Matters is not ‘neutral information’.

Martin Wicks

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group