Lucky me I’ve just received a glossy booklet (paid for from my rent mind you) on “Swindon’s Housing Vote”. The helpful people at the Council have even thrown in a DVD just in case I get too bored to read through the 48 page document. I’ve just had a look at the DVD. You could not have a clearer case of a pro-sell off film. Remember the Council is providing “neutral information” (according to Mr Taylor and Mr Holland). Have a look at the DVD and see if you agree with him. Here are some brief comments. I’ll comment on the ‘offer document’ later when I’ve had a chance to plough through it.

Some tenants”, we are told, have asked questions “about what the changes will mean”. And we see these ordinary tenants. Well, not quite. What we are not told is who they are. For instance we see Ruth Kiddle and Keith Badenski, 2 members of the Shadow Board, though we are not told that they are Board members. They are, of course, in favour of transfer since that was a precondition of being chosen by the Council. There are a couple of Residents Engagement Group members thrown in for good measure.

Mr Holland (Lead Member for housing) makes an appearance and, amongst other things tells us that “the new landlord plans to provide energy efficient heating systems to all homes needing them (my emphasis) within 5 years.”

Needless to say he doesn’t quantify this. Every home apart from those who refused it has already had central heating installed. Mr Holland continues to be disingenuous as he wages the Council’s Yes campaign.

You have to listen very carefully to the DVD and read the Offer Document equally carefully because there are all manner of qualifiers. For instance this or that is promised “where needed” or “where required”.

Some members of the Resident’s Engagement Group are much involved in the DVD, although only Derek Fry identifies himself as such. Here is what Derek says:

REG helped develop the offer document that explains what the new landlord (not potential landlord note) can offer you.”

The REG has apparently worked “to make sure that the Swindon Housing vote gets things right for tenants”.

How exactly will things be “right” for the tenants? Clearly with ‘transfer’. That is the whole message of the DVD.

Now the fact is that the REG is supposed to be neutral on which way to vote. Yet here on the DVD we have REG members collaborating with the Council to support the case for ‘transfer’. As individuals they have a perfect right to adopt whatever view they want, pro or con. But as REG members their role should have been to make sure that ‘neutral facts’ were presented to tenants.

Despite their collaboration they have been treated with utter contempt by the ruling group and senior officers.

  • The REG voted through the proposal that tenants should be given the pros and cons of transfer or staying with the Council (or ‘upsides’ and ‘downsides’). It hasn’t been done. All the Council material thus far has been selling transfer. And the REG has not held the Council to this. You will not see any cons in relation to transfer on the DVD or advantages to staying with the Council.
  • The Council voted for version 3 of the ‘offer document’ when the REG had not even finished discussing version 2!
  • The REG agreed that its members would meet, view the DVD and consider whether it was a fair representation of the issues. Senior officers overruled this decision and organised ‘showings’ of the DVD for individuals. This was obviously a means of trying to circumvent the REG just in case the DVD was considered to be a pro-transfer document.
  • Some of the REG members are very angry with the way they have been treated. For instance some of them decided not to stand for the Shadow Board because they were told that they could not stay on the REG if selected for the Board. Yet 2 people chosen by the Council for the Shadow Board are still being allowed to attend REG meetings.

So the DVD, far from offering “neutral facts” is part of the Yes campaign of the Council. I don’t know whether it will be put on the Council website. At any rate I would be interested to hear from other tenants on here to see what they think of the DVD.

And finally, let’s not forget the ‘independent’ tenant advisor, which Derek explains was “chosen by tenants”, though he does not mention that it was chosen from a shortlist on ONE company. DWA has just issued a pro-sell off newsletter masquerading as an “independent newsletter for tenants and leaseholders”.

Isn’t it ironic not to mention galling that the Council is using tenants money to try to con us into voting Yes!