Thursday, July 30, 2009

All-party condemnation of government over ALMO funding

At full Council last night we had a motion on the government's betrayal of our tenants in withdrawing the offer of funding to St. George's Community Housing, our Arms-Length Management Organisation to run the housing service:
1. This Council condemns the Labour government for breaking its repeated promises to Basildon’s Council tenants by:

i) Withdrawing its offer to fund vital improvements to their homes starting from this year as part of the Decent Homes initiative.
ii) Making the last 5 years of hard work by tenant representatives, officers and Councillors to transform Basildon’s housing service in expectation of government funding pointless.
iii) Making the over £1m spent from tenant’s funds in support of the Decent Homes initiative a waste of money.
iv) Pretending that a press release with no details whereby Councils can bid for money to build new homes at some time years in the future is any substitute for giving tenants decent homes to live in right now.

2. This Council expects the Leader to write to the Housing Minister expressing it’s outrage at his decision and calls upon him to reverse it.
It was passed unanimously. Labour Councillors described the government's decision as 'indefensible' and so they very sensibly did not try to defend it. So, we had Labour Councillors voting to support a Conservative motion condemning the Labour government, something that must have been very painful for them and something that is certainly a first for Basildon Council. If there is one thing that Basildon Labour have been entirely consistent on for decades it has been their support for Council tenants and so the government ratting on their promises to those tenants outraged them as much as it outraged us.

Of course we can make a great play of this politically as yet another illustration of how useless and untrustworthy Gordon Brown is, but frankly I would take a government keeping its promises to our tenants over political advantage any time. I cannot believe that a Labour government led by almost anyone other than Brown would have done this. Think about it; the current Labour government is supporting Bankers' bonuses while at the same time withdrawing funding from Council tenants. You couldn't make it up.

Some very good points were made in the debate, including one by my colleague Cllr. Sullivan. He said that it is all very well talking about how awful the BNP are, but it is decisions like these that attack the traditional working class that have let the fascists get a foothold in our society. You cannot keep kicking people and then expect them to vote for you, and for some traditional Labour supporters the BNP can seem like a viable alternative.

I fear that this appalling lack of integrity from the Labour government may cast a long shadow in Basildon.

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