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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 12:12 GMT
Union demands housing assurances
Council housing in Edinburgh
Edinburgh tenants voted against the stock transfer plan
Unions have urged ministers to ensure that Edinburgh's council tenants are not penalised for rejecting the sale of their homes to a housing association.

The Treasury promised to write off the local authority's 310m housing debt if the transfer had gone ahead.

The Unison union has written to First Minister Jack McConnell asking him to guarantee investment in the properties.

The executive said it was working with the council to identify the best way to help it improve its housing stock.

The proposal was defeated when 53% of Edinburgh residents voted to oppose the transfer last month.

It was ridiculous that housing debt would only be written off if tenants voted to leave the council
John Stevenson
Unison branch secretary

The housing debt would have been written off as part of a 2bn programme of investment in the 23,000 homes.

Following the vote, Mr McConnell described the outcome as "tragic" and said that tenants would lose out on the new investment.

The Edinburgh branch of Unison, the public services union, has written to the first minister asking him to respect tenants' wishes.

Branch secretary John Stevenson said: "We are calling on the Scottish Executive to join with the council, tenants' representatives and housing staff to jointly develop a way forward for affordable housing in Edinburgh.

"It was ridiculous that housing debt would only be written off if tenants voted to leave the council. Edinburgh tenants were angry at that blatant blackmail."

Community ownership

He said tenants wanted to be part of efforts to develop new ways of providing public sector housing.

An executive spokeswoman said: "We are committed to housing stock transfer and we are disappointed that Edinburgh tenants voted not to go ahead with that.

"The package, including the debt write-off, was conditional on transfer to community ownership. That is the arrangement we have had with the UK Treasury.

"However, we are working with Edinburgh City Council to identify how best to help them improve their housing stock."


SEE ALSO:
Residents reject housing transfer
15 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Move to block housing legal bid
17 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Home improvement plans unveiled
08 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Council backs housing transfer
28 Oct 04 |  Scotland


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