Swindon Tenants Campaign Group Media Release 31st October 2011

Tenants in sheltered accommodation should be wary of the promises made by Swindon Council. The consultation document sent out refers to “Upgrading all sheltered housing in the next ten years”. This is misleading. Only the “priority schemes” would be upgraded in the first ten years, even if you trust the promises of the would-be Housing Association.

None other than the Lead Member for Housing, Russell Holland, has admitted as much in answering a question at a Council meeting. He said:

Works will commence on the sheltered housing stock to ensure the top priority schemes are fit for purpose over the next ten years”.

In other words only “priority schemes” will be upgraded in the first ten years – perhaps a quarter of them. The rest will be completed “during the business plan period”, that is over 30 years. So any tenant in a sheltered scheme voting Yes on the basis that all schemes will be “upgraded” in the next ten years would be making a big mistake. Later in the consultation document there are a number of promises on work which will be done in sheltered schemes. But these promises have the caveat “where necessary”, “where required”. This leaves tenants in the dark, of course.

The threat of loss of wardens in sheltered accommodation is a means of trying to frighten tenants into voting in favour of ‘transfer’.

The suggestion that there is no money at all available for upgrading of sheltered accommodation, if we stay with the Council, is purely to try to convince tenants to vote Yes.

What could tenants do if we went over to a Housing Association and it failed to carry out it’s promises? The only thing we could do would be to appeal to the Conservative administration – the very people who want to sell our homes – to challenge the Housing Association. They are hardly likely to come to our aid when 3 of their members would sit on the Board of the Housing Association.

STCG believes that we will be safer as Council tenants. If we were to ‘transfer’ there would be no going back. Better safer than sorry. We call on tenants to vote No to transfer.

For further comment ring Brian Shakespeare (a sheltered tenant) on 07760367028