Unite the Union

Unite the Union

September 26, 2007 08:12 ET

Defend Council Housing’s reaction to Ken Livingstone’s comments at Labour Party conference on affordable housing

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2007) - Defend Council Housing welcomes Ken Livingstone's determination at Labour's conference today to see the number of homes built. But ahead of the housing debate at the conference tomorrow (Thursday morning) Alan Walter, chair of the tenant led campaign said today:

"We desperately need more homes for families still in temporary accommodation, all those facing chronic overcrowding - particularly young people unable to move out from under their parents feet into a home of their own - and those in the private sector struggling with a mounting financial burden beyond their means.

"But a large proportion of these homes need to be public (council) housing for rent. The private sector has never delivered the homes ordinary people need at a price we can afford. There's no sign they will do it now or in the future.

"It is therefore essential that government agrees new measures to enable democratically elected local authorities to build a new generation of first class council homes that provides housing that is secure with lower rents and charges and a landlord that tenants can hold to account. Something that so-called 'social' and 'affordable' housing provided by the private sector (including Registered Social Landlords) often doesn't deliver.

"We also need government to stop bullying and blackmailing 3 million existing council tenants into accepting one of their three privatisation options. The 'Fourth Option' includes the demand that government enables local authorities to carry out the improvements to homes and estates themselves where tenants want to keep the council as their landlord."

Last night some 80 delegates attended a Defend Council Housing fringe meeting chaired by Austin Mitchell MP. They included council leaders and tenants leaders from around the UK. Speakers included Jack Dromey (Unite, deputy general secretary); Mary Turner (GMB President), Heather Wakefield (UNISON national secretary), Wilf Flyn (UCATT Executive Council), Paul O'Brien (APSE chief executive) and Alan Walter (DCH chair). Apologies were received from John Cruddas and Frank Dobson MPs and Billy Hayes (CWU general secretary).

On Thursday Labour Party conference will debate two composites on housing. The last three party conferences have passed motions supporting the campaign's demand for the 'Fourth Option' of direct investment in council housing. Composite 6 seeks to re-affirm that policy and secure a change in government policy to provide an alternative to privatisation of council housing and a programme to build new council homes.

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