Tuesday, 20 December 2005

Edinburgh votes NO to housing stock transfer

Edinburgh's council tenants have vote NO to housing transfer by 53% to 47% on a 60% turnout, despite a huge and costly campaign by the council. UNISON is now calling on the council to explore the other options that already exist to finance public housing and bring the improvements and new builds that are needed. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/siu/dec05/10.html

"The Government can start by respecting tenants' views and writing off the debt. It was ridiculous that the Government would only write off the debt if tenants voted the way they wanted. Clearly Edinburgh tenants were angry at that blackmail", said Edinburgh UNISON Branch Secretary John Stevenson.

"Tenants have clearly said they want their public housing to remain public. They want their housing to be democratically accountable. They want everyone to learn the lessons of the stock transfers elsewhere, not least in Glasgow.

"If the money was available for private landlords, then the money should be made available to public landlords.

"Let's us have the'level playing field' called for by the House of Commons Council Housing Group", added John.

The council had been expecting a YES vote after the huge sums of money it put into its glossy campaign. UNISON, working with Edinburgh Against Stock Transfer had much fewer resources but did have the crucial backing of UNISON's General Political Fund.

This was enough to produce 25,000 broadsheets and newspaper advertising to put the other side of the argument.

Clearly tenants looked at the arguments and were either opposed or felt they had not been given enough unbiased information to vote away their council houses forever.

"The council now has a duty to these tenants to explore all available routes to get the funding to reward their loyalty", said John.

"This vote should give a clear message to the Government that people will not be blackmailed out of their public services."

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