Selling Us Off and Selling Us Out?

Our Labour council has ignored the wishes of local tenants and residents again

Two weeks ago a “consultation” exercise about the privatisation of estate management on St Mary’s estate ended. At a meeting at Fellows Court community hall, 30 of the 35 people present demanded that tenants be given an “option 3” – a choice to stay with the council. Last week the council’s cabinet voted to press ahead with the transfer of estate management to JSS Pinnacle, a private company.

The IWCA is against privatisation of council services. Not because we have an irrational hatred of the private sector but because the evidence shows it is less efficient, more expensive and less accountable to local people.

Also, if the council wants people to have a choice about their housing, it should mean genuine choice. Options 1 and 2 that tenants & residents were given only involved privatisation, either now or next year. Where was the choice to keep housing management services public? Tenants & residents were refused a ballot on the issue. Instead of allowing us to vote on the matters that affect our lives Labour offers us yet more “consultation”.

All this means is they ask us what we want and if this happens to be different to what they want – they just ignore us. Look at what happened to laburnum school whose fate was decided by so-called consultation with local people. In the face of an overwhelming majority in favour of keeping the school open, a small number of middle-class professionals and Labour councillors voted to press ahead with its closure.
It’s not surprising then that local democracy is at its lowest ebb, and it’s no wonder people are cynical about politicians and voter turn out in elections is so low. And Labour have the nerve to pretend they are worried about it. But the truth is they are responsible for it. The IWCA demands more local democracy, not less. We want people to have a real control over the issues that affect our daily lives.

Over the next few weeks the IWCA has decided to conduct its own ballot on St Mary’s estate to determine how many people would have voted for privatisation given a real choice. We’ll publicise the results. Let us know what you think. The council can’t be allowed walk all over its tenants with such blatant contempt.