Grassroots tenants groups have celebrated today the "no" vote against transfering Council Houses in Edinburgh to a newly founded Housing Association.
The City of Edinburgh Council publicised the outcome of the ballot.
53% of eligable tenants voted "No" in the ballot which had a turnout of about 60%.
The grassroot groups took on a battle against an estimated £21 million PR campaign funded by the Scottish executive - and won!
The ballot was brought forward from Spring 2006 to November 2005 to avoid unpleasant findings by Audit Scotland, which researches the effects of council housing stock transfer at the moment, and then furthermore brought the vote forward another six days to make a possible legal challenge by the Scottish Tenants Organisation impossible.
[Tenants Auction Housing Leader's House! | Edinburgh tenants 'Doormat' City Chambers | Edinburgh NO to Housing Sell Off: feature | Edinburgh NO to Housing Sell Off: article | Demolition Threat in Glasgow: feature | Demolition Threat in Glasgow: article]
logo of Britain-wide Defend Council Housing Campaign
fat cats win with council Housing Stock Transfer
Message to the councillors proposing Stock Transfer
Tenants of Edinburgh Council Houses will have made a decision today (Wednesday 14th of December) on the ownership transfer of their homes to the newly found City of Edinburgh Housing Association CEHA, Sian Roberts, spokesperson for Electoral Reform Services states.
The outcome of the ballot, participation and numbers will be passed on confidentially from the Electoral Reform Services to the council later this afternoon. The City of Edinburgh Council will publicise the outcome tomorrow (Thursday) as a press release on their website and inform the council tenants in writing, Jim (Surname withheld) from the "Better Homes for Edinburgh" info line said.
The tenants of the 23 000 council homes in Edinburgh had three weeks time to cast their vote, from Wednesday the 23rd of November till today, Wednesday, the 14th of December.
The decision is anticipated to end ferocious arguing of Tenants Groups supported by the trade unions such as Unison Scotland and the Britain-wide “Defend Council Housing” campaign, against the multi-million pounds expensive PR campaign “Better homes for Edinburgh”, funded by the Scottish Executive. The Tenant Information Service carried out and publicised its independent reviews and research.
The initiative to transfer the council's housing stock came from the government's policy to write of historic debts if council housing is privatised.
The City of Edinburgh accumulated £310 million pounds because of the building of council houses: “at the moment 40p of every pound of rent money is paying back the intrests on the loans taken out in the past” (DCH, our future leaflet),
Further, “this [the stock transfer] will unlock a £2 billion investment to make improvements to tenants' homes, 10 000 extra new homes can be built and major regeneration can take place in key areas of the city." (Better homes for Edinburgh, Pennywell newsletter)
Councillor Sheila Gilmore states:
“The transfer will bring the biggest amount of money for housing in Edinburgh since the first council homes were built in our city.” (letter 30.November)
However, according to Brian Dillon, a council house tenant, the investment of the £2 billions mentioned is build on creating massive debts:
“They are not telling us that £1.3 billion of that is loans from private banks who demand higher intrest rates - rates your rent money will have to pay for. “ (Unison Scotland, Defend Edinburgh's Housing)
The promises of “lower rents, better homes, more homes, better neighbourhoods, keeping promises” as advertised by the Better homes for Edinburgh PR campaign has already been disputed by the Tenants Information Service revealing the budget for major promises, such as “safe and clean neighbourhoods” and for planned regeneration projects is not accounted for in CEHA's business plan.
Campaigners countered the PR campaign by pointing out past experiences of stock transfers, such as in Glasgow, resulted in “higher rents and charges, less security, more evictions, no accountability, more homeless.”
If the council house tenants vote “yes”, the 23 000 council houses will be sold off to CEHA at a price each of £900, according to the North Edinburgh News, despite ex-council flats in Dumbiedykes, Holyrood, holding now a market value of £100000, as advertised in The Scotsman.
- Unison Scotland: “Defend Edinburgh's Housing”, leaflet
- Tenants Information Service; “Tenants News”, Issue One/October 2005, leaflet
- Tenants Information Service; “Tenants News”, Issue Two/October 2005, 8 Din A4 pages pamphlet
- Tenants Information Service; “Tenants News”, Issue Three/November 2005, 8 Din A4 pages pamphlet
- Defend Council Housing, “Hands off our homes”, Edinburgh Against Stock Transfer Campaign, leaflet
- Defend Council Housing, “our future - privatisation of the Health Service, schools, Water and now our homes”, Stock Transfer Information Group
- Defend Council Housing, “If you don't know, vote no”, leaflet
- The City of Edinburgh Council, “Capital Tenant North”, Issue 3, Autumn 2005
- Better homes for Edinburgh, Issue 08, August 2005, “Taking to the road”
- Better homes for Edinburgh, Issue 09, September 2005, “Coming to a street near you”
- Better homes for Edinburgh, Issue 10, October 2005, “See how housing transfer could benefit you”
- Better homes for Edinburgh, Issue 11, November 2005, “It's time to use your vote”
- Better homes for Edinburgh, Pennywell Newsletter,
- Better homes for Edinburgh, “Demonstration Blocks”
- City of Edinburgh Council, letter from Councillor Sheila Gilmore, 17.11.2005
- City of Edinburgh Council, letter from Councillor Sheila Gilmore, 30.11.2005
- North Edinburgh News, November 2005, including
- letter to the editor from Councillor Sheila Gilmore, Executive Member for Community Safety and Housing, “Councillor Gilmore urges you to vote”,
- letter to the editor from Mark Turley, Director of Housing, “Response to questions on housing transfer"
- letter to the editor from tenant W. Sutherland, “All the Answers”
- letter to the editor from tenant T. Duff, “Something has to change”
- letter to the editor from Louise Donnachie, Chair of WAGRAG, “Who's listening”
- article, page 16, “Stock Transfer battle nearing final round”
- article, page 16, "Stock transfer and repairs”, Jenni Marrow, Edinburgh Against Stock Transfer
- North Edinburgh News, December 2005, including
- letter to the editor, kept anonymous, “Vote Yes”
- letter to the editor, Jeni Marrow (EA.S.T.) and Charlotte Fletcher (S.T.I.G.)
- article, page 14, “Edinburgh's tenants set to vote on housing transfer”
- article, page 6, “Drylaw 'no' to more housing development”
- article, page 15, “Stock Transfer D Day Looms”
- article, page 15, “Have-a-go hero faces eviction”
- letter from Sian Roberts, Electoral Reform Services
- Defend Council Housing: “reasons to reject privatization”, autumn 2005