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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Tenants back housing transfer
Run-down housing
The 'yes' vote paves the way for new investment
Council house tenants in Glasgow have voted in favour of plans to transfer ownership of their homes from the local authority to a new city-wide housing association.

In a closer ballot than had been predicted, 58% of tenants backed the transfer plans with 42% voting against.

Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Executive jointly hailed the result as a mandate for change.

But opponents said the plans should be called into question after tens of thousands of residents refused to back them.


The arguments against stock transfer still stand and other councils have taken different attitudes towards the issue

Mike Kirby, Unison
The result of the postal ballot was announced at the City Chambers just after 1315 BST on Friday.

Of the 77,807 ballot papers sent out to tenants, 50,082 were completed - a turnout of 64.4%.

From those 29,126 tenants (58.3%) were in favour of the transfer while 20,836 (41.7%) opposed it.

The majority of 8,290 was lower than expected following the high turnout and is likely to result in questions being asked about the legitimacy of the mandate for housing stock transfer.

The result means that the ownership of Glasgow's council homes will now be transferred to a new city-wide housing association.

'Modern homes'

Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) has already promised to carry out repairs worth 1.8bn over 10 years and begin demolishing as many as 11,000 properties to transform dilapidated stock.

The Treasury has also agreed to write off 900m in housing debt accrued by the city council.

The result has been greeted with delight by those who campaigned for a 'yes' vote.

Iain Gray
Iain Gray: "Attractive modern homes"
Social Justice Minister Iain Gray said the decision was "a giant leap towards achieving community ownership" and giving people a greater say in how their homes are managed.

He said: "Tenants can now look forward to the good quality, affordable housing, so vital if we are to tackle head on poverty, ill health and disadvantage.

"The GHA, over the next 11 years, will transform crumbling damp houses into attractive modern homes and many new houses will be built to replace those that will be demolished.

"For the first time ever tenants rent levels will be guaranteed for years to come. In addition, we aim to create thousands of training and work opportunities in the construction industry as the GHA's investment programme gets underway."

Glasgow's council leader, Councillor Charlie Gordon said the "clear cut ballot result paved the way for a "new era for socially rented housing in the city".

Less constraints

He said: "It will accelerate the regeneration of Glasgow and bring in 1.5bn of much needed investment, both public and private, to upgrade and rebuild the city's current council house stock over the next 10 or so years.

"The GHA, which does not have the same constraints placed upon it as the city council, will be investing to ensure that all tenants will have warm, dry and centrally heated homes within four years and all modernisation and improvements will be completed within 10 years."

But not everyone shared the view that the 'yes' vote would herald a new and improved era in Glasgow's housing.

Sean Clerkin
Sean Clerkin: "No mandate"
The public sector union, Unison, said the Scottish Executive should take into account those who rejected the transfer and who did not vote.

Mike Kirby, Scottish Convenor of Unison, said: "The arguments against stock transfer still stand and other councils have taken different attitudes towards the issue.

"This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The executive has to take into account the substantial opposition to this policy and change their dogmatic approach."

Sean Clerkin, chairman of the Glasgow Campaign Against the Housing Stock Transfer, vowed to fight on despite the majority of tenants voting for transfer.

He said: "There is no mandate for housing privatisation in Glasgow.

"We will be targeting the banks to persuade them the GHA is not worth investing in and will be considering a judicial review.

"We are continuing to campaign against this and are calling a public meeting to publicise our fight."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Bob Wylie reports
"The turnout for the ballot was bigger than expected"
Deputy Social Justice Minister Margaret Curran MSP
"There is no prospect of job losses at all"
Leader of Scottish Socialists Tommy Sheridan
"If this transfer is allowed to go ahead then the bankers of London will decide what happens"
See also:

05 Apr 02 | Scotland
Mixed response to stock transfer
04 Apr 02 | Scotland
Count begins in stock transfer vote
13 Mar 02 | Scotland
Housing ballot papers issued
17 Mar 02 | Scotland
Union boss attacks housing transfer
02 Oct 01 | Scotland
'Blackmail' claim in housing move
01 Oct 01 | Scotland
Councillors back housing transfer
18 Sep 01 | Scotland
Treasury to pay council housing debt
06 Sep 01 | ppp
Passionate housing debate
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