This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser

Some people appear confused over the report in the Advertiser which said that over 5,000 “said yes to a ballot”. People were asked if they wanted a say in their future, so they said Yes. There’s a suprise. However, this gives no indication as to which way they are going to vote. The confusion was compounded by the fact that Advertiser did not report the response of tenants to the consultation, which is the indication as to which way they would vote.

Curiously the Council did not give these figures to the Adver journalist who reported on the meeting. I checked with him. And they have yet to appear in the paper.

I can understand why they would not be too keen to publish these because after the massive propaganda campaign, costing at least £600,000 and probably more, the results for them were not that glorious. According to their figures 646 tenants indicated that they wanted to stay with the Council, 661 said they wanted a Swindon Housing Association to be set up, 107 had not made up their minds, and 28 said they did not want to tell the Council what their view was.

Even if these figures are correct (and we are attempting to verify them) the ballot could go either way. Those people on the Council who thought they had a Yes vote in the bag, those staff who have been telling tenants transfer is a foregone conclusion, have been shown to be wrong.

Of course, the response only represents 11% of tenants so nobody can assume that the ballot itself will mirror these responses. From our feedback from tenants all over town we know that many people who will vote No thought, not unreasonably, that it was none of the business of the Council to ask how they were going to vote. On the other hand, anybody who supports what the Council is proposing is not likely to be worried about telling the Council that they agree with it. Other tenants were genuinely concerned at the Council knowing which way they were going to vote.

My own conviction, based on feedback from hundreds of tenants, is that a majority of them are opposed to selling off our houses. If they use their vote then there is no question that we can vote down the Council’s proposal.

However, that requires that people make sure they vote and get their No vote in.

Some tenants have expressed the view that the Council will “do it anyway”. But they can only go ahead with transfer if a majority of those voting vote Yes. So the fate of tenants is in our own hands. A majority of No votes means that transfer cannot go ahead. This is a ballot we can win. Make sure you use your vote and vote No to transfer.

Martin Wicks

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group