Flintshire anti-housing transfer group accused of scaremongering

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A CAMPAIGN to block a proposed housing stock transfer has been accused of spreading “falsehoods” and of “scaremongering”.

Flintshire Council plans to hold a ballot of council tenants next summer on whether the homes of more than 15,000 people will be handed over to a registered social landlord.

Conservative AM Mark Isherwood, Shadow Minister for housing and social justice, hit out at Flintshire Defend Council Housing about discussing the possibility of private landlords and higher rents.

Last month more than 50 people tuned up at the group’s first public meeting at Connah’s Quay Labour Club with more events planned in the run up to the ballot.

Mr Isherwood said tenants should make up their own minds on the issue.

He said: “This ballot is in accordance with Labour/Plaid Cymru Welsh Government policy. If it was the wrong thing to do, I would oppose it. We must, however, rise above party politics on such a crucial issue and put the tenants first.

“Tenants must be allowed to make up their own minds on the basis of all the facts rather than the old, familiar scaremongering.

“We must stop frightening them with falsehoods about ‘private landlords’ and ‘higher rents’.”

But Labour county councillor Aaron Shotton defended the group and said it was looking out for the concerns of council tenants.

He said: “The group has been formed to provide an alternative view which may be contrary to what tenants are being told by the council.

“It is about tenants’ choice in the ballot. It is right and proper. There was a public meeting and they raised concerns.”

He said one of the concerns tenants raised with the group was rents.

“They do not feel that their concerns are being allayed by the council,” he added.

A spokesman for the council said it would cost £467 million to bring council houses up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard and maintain them over a 30-year-period.

“The council has decided to ballot tenants on the option to transfer council homes to a not-for-profit registered social landlord as required by WAG.

“The council, its employees and advisors are taking a neutral stance and are not advocating that tenants vote one way or another.”

- FLINTSHIRE Council’s executive has decided how the council houses will be run if the vote approves the move.

A not-for-profit independent registered social landlord will be created to own and manage the homes which will have charitable status.

Tenants will have the option to become members of the organisation which will be headed by a board of five councillors, five tenants and five independent members.

The move was passed at a special meeting of Flintshire’s executive committee yesterday.

Council leader Arnold Woolley said: “We think this is the best option. This is the model which has proved the most sympathetic landlord which involves the tenants rather than having the a private landlord. It is up to the tenants to decide.”

See full story in the Leader

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