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Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Minister wants tenants in charge
Wendy Alexander
Ms Alexander says tenants should have more say
The benefits of community ownership of housing in Scotland have been outlined by Communities Minister Wendy Alexander.

Speaking in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands she said that putting tenants in charge and attracting new money is at the heart of Scottish Executive thinking.

Shetland Islands Council is one of a number of local authorities considering transferring its housing stocks to community ownership.

Around 260 housing associations across Scotland already own and manage 130,000 houses, and Ms Alexander believes the executive can build on that.

Broken windows on a house
The minister will say housing can be improved
The core problem is clear, she said. A lack of investment has meant an increasing burden of debt on local authorities and tenants paying higher rent for deteriorating houses.

Ms Alexander said: "Our proposals for the Housing Bill are the most radical for a generation. Putting tenants in charge and securing new investment are at its heart.

"Community ownership also means a much greater say for tenants, with improved homes and guaranteed rents. Increased investment also brings jobs and training opportunities for local people."

The minister claims that transferring homes to new local housing organisations could unlock millions of pounds in private finance deals.

She has pledged to lift the burden of debt on councils if transfers go ahead.

'Take the lead'

If the council and tenants opted for community ownership, Shetland's 2,000 council homes would transfer to a new not-for-profit community housing association.

The minister added: "In urban Scotland, community ownership can improve the quality of homes. Here in Shetland the new investment can go towards building new homes.

"I would urge Shetlanders to look at these proposals as an opportunity.

"We are offering tenants the chance to take the lead in changing the quality, management and ownership of their homes."

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See also:

11 Sep 00 | Scotland
Majority of homes 'childless'
18 Apr 00 | Scotland
Tenants launch 'Vote No' campaign
06 Dec 99 | Scotland
Campaigners oppose housing transfer
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