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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Resignation call after housing vote
UK council flats
Birmingham has 88,000 council homes
An MP has called for the resignation of Birmingham's housing manager after tenants voted against transferring the city's council homes to a private landlord.

Dr Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said there needed to be a "fresh start" for housing in the city.

She said the rejection by 66.8% of voters of Birmingham City Council's plan meant the director of housing, David Thompson, should resign and a new one should be appointed.

But Birmingham council leader, Sir Albert Bore, rejected any talk of resignations.

'Money wasted'

Dr Jones told BBC News Online: "We need a fresh start for housing policy in the city and those responsible need to deal with the problem rather than wash their hands of it.

"We need a new director of housing and a new cabinet member."

This is a great day for tenants in Birmingham

Fiona Westwood, Unison

She criticised the 6m spent by the council to support the campaign to transfer the city's housing stock to a private landlord.

"It is regrettable that so much money has been wasted."

The result was welcomed by officials from Unison, which had been campaigning against the sell-off.

Regional organiser for Unison, Fiona Westwood, said: "This is a great day for tenants in Birmingham, who have demonstrated with this ballot result that they are smarter than the council believed."

'Community landlords'

Birmingham City Council had said that a 'yes' vote would ensure a major programme of repair and modernisation over the next 10 years.

It had warned that without transfer to a private, not-for-profit housing association, the same work would take 30 years.

On Monday, Sir Albert said: "Given the challenges facing Birmingham City Council in securing adequate resources and improving services for council tenants, we had a duty to let tenants consider the option of transferring their homes to a new network of local community landlords."

Sir Albert said he would be now consulting his cabinet ministers to discuss what steps to take next.

He said there was no question of resignations over the issue.

Government plans

The news will be a blow to the government, which wants to transfer to private ownership 200,000 council homes a year over 10 years.

The transfer of the management of Birmingham's 88,000 council homes would have been the largest such move in the UK.

The announcement comes just days after tenants in Glasgow voted yes to a similar scheme.

Turnout at the Birmingham vote was 61,500, or 65.5% of those eligible to take part in the ballot.

The secret postal vote was carried out over a three-week period by the Electoral Reform Services.

Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online
See also:

05 Apr 02 | Scotland
Tenants back housing transfer
05 Apr 02 | Scotland
Mixed response to stock transfer
03 Sep 01 | ppp
Council housing transfer
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