Keep housing out of unelected hands

PUBLISHED: 11:51 10 November 2006 | UPDATED: 22:21 28 May 2010

I NEVER thought I would say this, but may I please take this opportunity to thank Fenland District Council for introducing the blue rubbish bin, or should I say, recycling bin? It is proving very useful, particularly for having somewhere to direct all the

I NEVER thought I would say this, but may I please take this opportunity to thank Fenland District Council for introducing the blue rubbish bin, or should I say, recycling bin?

It is proving very useful, particularly for having somewhere to direct all the high-powered hype relating to the proposed privatisation of Fenland Council tenant's homes.

According to tenants' friend Adrian Waite, Roddons Housing Association is going to be - if Fenland Council tenants are daft enough to vote for sell-off this month - absolutely wonderful.

In fact, I won't be surprised if we receive more propaganda from Adrian and Roddons suggesting that they can walk on water and chew gum at the same time. They might even include buy one and get one free offers plus loads of loyalty points.

Having spent almost 25 years at all levels of local government I know and understand the importance of having homes provided by our democratically-elected local governments.

Giving up our democratic rights to an unelected body would be, in the long term, a very serious mistake which we would live, I believe, to regret.

Democracy was not handed to us on a plate; therefore we all, whatever our political beliefs might be, have a duty to fight to protect it.

There is a place for the private sector but issues relating to our major infrastructures, such as social housing, cannot and must not be left in the hands of the unelected and thereby the risk that profit and executive salaries interests come first.

There are many examples which show that this approach has failed and at great cost, in the long run, to the wider community.

The head of the Government's housing watchdog has warned: ''Housing associations have become so obsessed with building new homes that they are ignoring their core housing management role.''

The Audit Commission chief inspector of housing, Roy Irwin, warned that too many housing associations ''chase the customers they haven't got, neglecting the ones that they have got''.

I think Fenland Tenants, before they vote, need to heed these serious warning signs.

I fully support Michael Meacher MP, who said: ''Council tenants should stick with their secure tenancies. Demand that all councils tenants rents and right-to-buy capital receipts are used exclusively on council homes and none of it is siphoned off.''

We will not be able to make these demands if council tenants vote this month for privatisation of their homes. Hundreds of thousands across the land have voted 'no' to council house sell-offs. It is clear they have a very strong case and for that reason I shall be voting 'no' as well.

Don't let apathy win the day. Make that 'no' vote count.

If you want to join our very active campaign please e-mail chrisjohnbennett@btinternet. com. Remember to head your e-mail 'Say 'no' to council house sell-offs'.

CHRIS BENNETT

Former mayor of March and leader of Fenland District Council

Asplin Avenue

March

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