DCH doesn't have any paid workers or an office so our ability to directly support local campaigns is very limited.
We concentrate on providing a regular national newspaper, pamphlets and briefings and a website. We hope these
put the general arguments, demonstrate that this fight is going on across the UK and that we have a very broad alliance backing our demands. We also try and
and organising fringe meetings, conferences and lobbies to have maximum effect.
There is lots of experience of fighting effective local campaigns. If we can't help you directly we can put you in touch with others around
the country who will give you advice and support.
The key skills you need are commitment, a preparedness to work with others you may disagree with on other issues (DCH works with anyone - except the Nazis),
writing and producing good local material to
challenges the council's propoganda and put the alternative and a strategy for getting information to every tenant and giving the campaign
a high profile in your area...
If your council is proposing transfer, PFI or ALMO: organise an effective campaign
STANDING UP TO THE COUNCIL
can seem a bit daunting at first but
don’t be put off. There’s lots of experience
and people who can help you
organise a campaign in your area.
Once you get out on the estates you
will find that most tenants are instinctively
wary of council glossy PR campaigns
and know that privatisation has
been a disaster in other public services.
The key is to produce good local
material that takes up the general arguments
and counters the council’s
case for privatisation. Contact DCH
and check examples of local leaflets
on the campaign website. Ask the
council trade unions and sympathetic
councilors for help challenging the
council’s arguments (councils often
hide or distort important financial information
to support their claim there
is no alternative).
Make the campaign as broad as
possible – involve tenants, unions,
councilors and other organisations in
your area. And make sure that you
look like you are serious about winning.
If other tenants think you are just
protesting you won’t be taken seriously.
Getting out on the estates and
going door to door is essential but
there are lots of additional ways to get
your message across. Hold public
meetings in local halls and invite national
as well as local speakers.
Leafleting parents outside primary
schools is a good way to talk to tenants
and find volunteers to help on
their estates. Cover churches,
mosques, bingo halls and community
Ask unions in local hospitals,
schools, factories and offices to distribute
leaflets to their members and
put up posters on union noticeboards.
Send letters to the local papers and
brief journalists to run regular reports.
And in the run up to the ballot use car
loudspeakers and tour estates to get
your message across.
The council will spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a confident
glossy PR campaign telling tenants there’s no alternative. They want to
make it seem like it’s a ‘done deal’. But as campaigns around the country
have showed we can organise effective campaigns on a shoe string.
Tenants aren’t stupid – they just need to hear about the alternatives and
most people’s instincts are against privatisation and they are very wary of
expensive one-sided council PR campaigns.
DON’T WAIT. The earlier you start
campaigning the better. And don’t
trust any ballot timetable the council
may publicise - they regularly start
ballots early so that tenants vote
before getting material putting the
Build a broad-based campaign.
The most effective local campaigns
are led by tenants, and supported by
trade unions, local councillors and
MPs. Involve everyone who agrees we
need more investment in council
housing and is prepared to oppose
Contact your tenants federation
or forum, and individual tenants
associations in the area and ask
them to back the campaign. Some
will, others won’t because they are
scared of losing council funding or
have been incorporated too far into
the stock options process. Argue
strongly that even if they won’t
oppose privatisation they should, at
least, help distribute material to
ensure that tenants hear both sides
of the debate. Don’t give up if some
‘tenants reps’ aren’t responsive –
tenants on the estates will be.
Organise a local DCH meeting to
plan the campaign. Involve tenants,
trade unionists and, where possible
councillors and MPs too. Make a
Freedom of Information Act request
NOW for all the addresses (not
tenant’s names) of council homes in
the area so you can plan distribution
of material effectively.
Question the council’s financial
analysis. Councils frequently mislead
tenants by painting a very black and
white picture: transfer, PFI or ALMO
or ‘you won’t get any improvements’.
Often they create a higher local ‘Gold’
standard – and then say the council
can’t afford it. Read the council’s
‘options appraisal’ report, ‘business
plan’ and minutes of meetings. Find
out what improvements the council
can do and whether the extra work is
worth the risks involved.
Approach local unions for
financial support. Many unions have
special regional and national funds
that local branches can apply to.
Contact local branches of Amicus,
CWU, GMB, PCS, RMT, T&G, UCATT
and UNISON (who all support the
campaign) and the local Trades
Council. Ask for funding and help with
design and printing, organising
meetings, loudspeakers, etc.
Lobby your councillors and MP.
Councils try and create the
impression that the outcome is a
‘done deal’ but don’t be intimidated.
Many councillors will have voted
without fully understanding the issues
or questioning the advice of senior
council officers (who usually stand to
gain from the proposal). Some will be
open to persuasion. ‘Thank you for
sending me a copy regarding the
Fourth Option. I dearly wish it was in
my possession some months ago.’
North Somerset Councillor
Produce local material.
Leaflet every home but also have
stalls at markets and high streets and
give out material at churches,
mosques and to parents outside
Order more copies of this
newspaper to get the arguments
across to tenants. DCH can also
help with writing local leaflets (see
examples on the campaign website)
and by providing speakers for
meetings and debates..
High visibility is important. Get
posters up on every estate and
street, and borrow a car loudspeaker
to tour estates. Send letters to the
local press, organise lobbies or stunts
to get publicity and ask trade unions
to sponsor adverts in the press to put
the arguments across.
Demand a ballot. Some councils
try and set up ALMOs or PFI schemes
without holding a formal ballot of all
tenants - if you don’t challenge them
they will try to submit lesser evidence
of consulting tenants to avoid a
proper vote. Demand a full debate
and a formal ballot of all tenants.
Tenants in Camden, Lambeth,
Nottingham, Sutton and elsewhere
have all won this basic right. It’s
Most of the major unions are affiliated nationally to the campaign. Contact local branches of CWU, FBU, GMB, PCS, RMT, UCATT, Unite, UNISON or the local Trades Council. Ask for the housing convenor or branch secretary. All these unions support the campaign nationally so they should be able to help. Even if they don't have a lot of money, union branches can give all kinds of useful support, from photocopying facilities to their members helping to distribute leaflets. UNISON branches can apply to a "General Political Fund" for funds to fight the campaign.
Send local councillors information and ask if any of them are opposed to the proposals. The council's website or switchboard will be able to give you a list of councillors - their details should be in the public domain. You can go to the surgery of your own ward councillors and speak to them directly; but send information to all of them. Don't forget your local MP too.
If you can, contact your tenants federation, and other tenants associations in the area. Most councils maintain a list of TAs and their contact details on their websites or a 'community information' database; they should give you this if you ask. Try a local library if you don't have access to the internet.
Write a letter to the local paper asking people to contact you if they are interested in fighting the council's privatisation proposals.
Organise a public meeting. Ask DCH for a speaker and ask any sympathetic union reps, councillors and MPs. Advertise it in the local paper - if you can't afford an advert then write a letter to the letters page and send a press release. Put posters up on estates, in libraries, community centres and shops. Invite councillors and TA reps.
You have the right to ask for all the addresses (not names) of council homes in your area - whoever you are and without having to give a reason. The Information Commissioner has ruled on this already. Make a 'Freedom of Information' request to your council.
Produce good quality local material
Find out what stage the council is at and be aware of what's happening and when. Don't wait - start as soon as possible!
Collect quotations from tenants reps, councillors, unions, e
Take some good photographs - such as campaigners protesting outside the Town Hall, or a meeting hearing the arguments against, or a group on an estate with 'No to transfer' placards.
Get hold of relevant council documents in order to analyse their case for transfer - ask for the business plan, options appraisal, stock condition survey, reports on the transfer to council. There is a list of questions to ask under 'stock options' on our website.
And don’t let councils bully workers
Councils often try and bully council
workers into helping them bully
tenants to accept privatisation. They
talk about the need for ‘team
working’ – but don’t mention that
senior managers personally stand to
get big pay rises if privatisation goes
ahead. Sometimes they threaten job
losses if tenants vote No but they
are regularly caught out massaging
the figures to paint a bleak picture.
Most RSL landlords are either not
unionised or have worse union
organisation. There is a much bigger
turnover of employees and constant
mergers and takeovers give the
employer the upper hand.
Get tenants to leaflet housing
workers to propose a joint
campaign. Organise union meetings
at work and invite tenants, union
officials, sympathetic councillors and
MPs opposed to privatisation to
come in to speak.
All the trade unions oppose
privatisation of council housing.
Contact yours and ask them to help
you defend council housing as a