Council denies propaganda claim over its housing vote

Reporter:

by Lois Hough

COUNCIL bosses have defended claims they are spreading “propaganda” ahead of a crucial ballot to determine the future of its housing stock.


Tenants from 7,500 council properties across the county will decide whether to hand over control of their homes to a social landlord or stick with council ownership.


Flintshire Council has insisted it would remain neutral throughout the process, but tenants say a newsletter delivered to their homes is attempting to sway the votes.
One Buckley tenant, who wished to remain anonymous, said tenants were being prompted to vote for a transfer.


He told the Leader: “The council says it is taking a neutral approach but it is quite clear from the way they have written this thing what is on their mind and how they want us to vote.


“This is propaganda. They are trying to use subliminal messages to sway us.”


The newsletter, entitled Your Home, Your Future, Your Choice, sparked confusion among readers with the following: “The council is proposing transfer because it will enable all homes to be brought up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) within five years of transfer.The council simply does not have the money to meet WHQS in the same timescale.”


Council bosses say they did not mean to be suggestive.


Chief executive Colin Everett said: “Some have read it that the council is now in favour of transfer and is no longer neutral.


“The council is required to put to tenants the proposal to transfer to a registered social landlord for them to vote for or against the transfer when the ballot takes place.


“This is what is meant by the words ‘the council is proposing transfer’ in the article.


“The council has a well publicised neutral stance on the future of council housing and is not advocating either option to its tenants.


“We believe it is the tenants’ decision to decide their future without influence.”


The transfer option is not a new idea in Wales. Residents in Bridgend were the first to vote for a transfer to a new landlord in 2002


Tenants in Wrexham and Swansea voted to stay with the council.


Flintshire tenants will be taking to the polls in the summer.

See full story in the Leader

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