Author Topic: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group  (Read 33875 times)

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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group
« Reply #160 on: January 14, 2012, 09:54:01 AM »
They were not carrying out their normal day job which inevitably meant they could not be providing tenants with the normal service that they would be.

There are instances involving Sussex Square which are indicative of this fact.  Ie The Broken Security Door and the daily clear up of Needles and other rubbish that accumulates as a result.

Mind you as I thought there was a result and therefore canvassing was at an end would it be possible to fix it please?

There are other issues as well but have the Officers lost sight of their first and foremost priority as a result of this unnecessary vote, that is, looking after the tenants without whom, I suggest, they could be looking for work?
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Offline Martin Wicks

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I was a secret Council/Housing Association Agent...and I didn't even know it!
« Reply #161 on: January 14, 2012, 04:52:32 PM »
A bit of light relief.

I was a secret Council/Housing Association Agent...and I didn't even know it!

As they say in Yorkshire, there's nowt so queer as folk. You can't please everyone. One of the lighter moments of our campaign against the sell off of our Council homes to a housing association was a series of text messages I received from one individual who clearly thought that Swindon Tenants Campaign was not up to the job. I'm afraid we couldn't meet this individual's exacting standards.

“Your leaflet through my door... was a poor attempt”. It should have concentrated on the question of “secure tenure” he thought.

I sent a text back saying why not get involved? Tell us how you think we could improve what we are doing. Back came the message: “If you guys don't know what ur doing (and it seems you don't) the Council will run rings round you...”

He's against transfer, what's he trying to do, knock our confidence? Anyway the third text mused on the fact that many tenants wouldn't vote. We apparently needed to find out whether or not those not voting would be counted as Yes votes.

You're wondering what the fourth text message said, aren't you? I can sense it.

“I did more than my fair share of voluntary work for tenants 20 years ago...I washed my hands of it after seeing corruption on BOTH sides.”

Still, he did wish us luck despite our patent inadequacies.

What happened with the next leaflet? Right on queue, his staccato text messages came rolling in.

“Just got your news sheet through the post. You've done it again – rabbiting on about KITCHENS when the real issue is about the fatal consequences of losing our 'SECURE' tenancies”.

I'm afraid that our material was so poor that by this stage the poor chap was apoplectic.

“...are you clowns undercover Council/HA agents?”

Once the initial anger had subsided the second text was a little more forgiving of us. We had to impress upon tenants the difference between 'secure' and 'assured' tenancies.

And the third text? We needed to consult a 'friendly' specialist on Tenancy Law.

And the fourth? We had to contact UNITE. Apparently they have sympathies towards social housing. They know the legal issues of tenancies. “Perhaps they can help?”

And the fifth? He was warming to the theme and had forgiven us our lack of knowledge. Once tenants “are made to truly understand what they will legally lose forever – you'll win their votes for sure. “But you must move quick – time is short now!”

Alas, as agents of the Council sent to infiltrate and undermine the campaign against 'transfer' I'm afraid we were utter failures. The tenants voted 72% against selling off our homes.

For God sake mate why didn't you just give us ring?



Offline Martin Wicks

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Re: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group submission to DCLG
« Reply #162 on: January 14, 2012, 05:16:30 PM »
A bit long to put here, but here's the link to our website. This is the submission to the Secretary of State - a complaint about the conduct of the Council and what we consider to be breaches of the Statutory guidance which it was supposed to follow. Sent in during the consultation period, before the end of the ballot.

http://keepourcouncilhomes.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/submission-from-swindon-tenants-campaign-group/

Offline Martin Wicks

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After the ballot - tenants need to get organised
« Reply #163 on: January 14, 2012, 05:35:31 PM »
This is a letter to the Advertiser

After the ballot – tenants need to get organised

On behalf of Swindon Tenants Campaign Group I would like to express our gratitude for those people who supported our campaign against the sell-off of our homes to a new Housing Association. I would also congratulate the far larger number of tenants who made their own contribution in delivering an overwhelming No vote. All across the town thousands of discussions took place as tenants considered their future under the proposal of the Council. Each of those conversations was important.

Contrary to those who said that tenants were 'apathetic' and the the 'transfer' was a foregone conclusion, the high turn out and the massive majority showed that tenants were bothered about who their landlord was.

Those who say the No vote was just the result of inertia and because 'people don't like change' are underestimating the intelligence of tenants and the fact that they thought about and discussed the options they had and considered the consequences of the ballot decision.

Above all tenants refused to be bludgeoned into submission by the relentless campaign of the Council. They were angry that some Council staff were trying to persuade them to vote Yes when they (the staff) were supposed to be neutral. They were angry that they were pressed as to how they would vote when it was supposed to be a secret ballot. Many of them felt they were being harassed by the Council. They asked themselves why the Council was so keen on the transfer. If it was such a good deal why all this pressure? They had the scepticism of working people everywhere when a manager tries to get you to do something you may not want to do and tells you he/she has your best interests at heart.

Isn't it a paradox, some have asked, that tenants want to “stay with the Council” when they don't trust it? Most often people talk about 'the Council' as if it was a single entity. It's not. It comprises the political group which runs it (there only by the sufferance of the electors), the senior officers who do the bidding of that group, and, of course, the troops on the ground who do the work for the tenants. Many tenants wanted to hang onto their “secure” tenancy despite the reassurances of the Council. For many of the older tenants, who know what life was like before the big Council house building programmes after the Second World War, Council housing was a liberation from overcrowded, expensive private rented accommodation. A great many tenants were opposed to transfer because of their own or their family's negative experience of Housing Associations.

Tenants were literally inundated with material from the Council and they could see that all of it was one-sided and biased. It did not admit to a single risk of 'transfer'. No wonder that a majority of them  thought that the Council sounded, as one tenant said at an STV meeting, “like an insurance salesman”.

As the Advertiser journalist expressed it, the ballot result was a “crushing defeat” for the Council. Tenants are not sheep to be easily led. They have their opinions, they can make up their own minds. And they have shown grit and determination.

What now? Swindon Tenants Campaign Group was set up to campaign against transfer. Having played our part in that victory we have decided to continue organising and to campaign for the interests of tenants on an ongoing basis. We will be a non-party political independent tenants group which fights for the improvement of the service we receive. We will campaign for a new round of Council house building which is the only realistic way of tackling the housing crisis and stopping the rise in the numbers on the Council house waiting list. What else we do will depend upon what those who get involved decide together.

Tenants should be aware that the Swindon ballot was watched with interest across the country where other tenants may face the threat of transfer. So we also are connected with the national Defend Council Housing Campaign which has defended Council tenants from the attacks they have been under for many years. We have, by the way, had messages from around the country from tenants who have taken heart from our 72% No vote.

Tenants in Swindon have shown they have some mettle, that the Council cannot ride roughshod over us. We won the ballot but we need to get organised to fight for our collective interests. We cannot tackle the problems we face, each of us on our own. We need to do it together.

If you are a tenant and interested in getting involved in Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, please contact us by email at stcg@btinternet.com or ring 07786394593. Visit our website at http://keepourcouncilhomes.wordpress.com

Martin Wicks
Swindon Tenants Campaign Group

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group
« Reply #164 on: January 14, 2012, 06:15:42 PM »

Well put Martin  :)

Swindons tenants do need to represent themselves effectively and independently without self-serving interference and control by local councillors.

I was proud that Swindons tenants resisted the pressure placed on them to transfer and that they didn't make the same mistake we made in 1989 in Newbury.  That said, if the Conservatives remain in office, and continue to rack up their debt mountain, I think they will already be thinking about having another go as soon as they are legally able to.  Don't be surprised if the coalition government brings forward legislation to enable councils to have a sooner-rather-than-later second attempt .

I really hope you can get this going and sing out if there's anything I can do to assist you & your colleagues.


Offline Martin Wicks

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Re: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group
« Reply #165 on: January 14, 2012, 06:40:51 PM »
Cheers Geoff.

Th coalition govt has already opened up a consultation which is looking to a new round of transfers. The only problem is that they really don't have the money to be writing off a lot of debt, so we'll have to see what they come up with.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group
« Reply #166 on: January 14, 2012, 06:44:08 PM »
Cheers Geoff.

Th coalition govt has already opened up a consultation which is looking to a new round of transfers. The only problem is that they really don't have the money to be writing off a lot of debt, so we'll have to see what they come up with.

Something innovative I'm sure  :-X

Offline Mart

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Re: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group
« Reply #167 on: January 14, 2012, 07:09:33 PM »
Vibrant and visionary probably.

With twinkly bits.

Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Swindon Tenants Campaign Group
« Reply #168 on: January 15, 2012, 06:23:18 AM »
I wonder how Russell Hooland will account for the Officer who spent four hours, yes four hours, with a tenant in West Swindon who told him from the outset that he was voting 'No'? 

It was overkill and a lack of respect that ensured the defeat was by 72%.

Congratulations to all those involved, the result justified the effort and the people of Swindon, as a whole, are the beneficiaries.
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Offline Martin Wicks

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Caerphilly Tenants vote against transfer
« Reply #169 on: February 18, 2012, 04:31:34 PM »
There would appear to be a few ballots taking place in Wales.

Caerphilly tenants have just vote by 65.2% against transfer on a turnout of 66%. In this case it will 'delay modernisation' by 2 years.

There is another ballot currently taking place for Flintshire County Council tenants.