MPs inundated with evidence for fourth option


140+ council tenants, elected councillors, council officers and trade unionists from 29 areas around the country came to Parliament yesterday. They were taking part in the inquiry organised by the House of Commons council housing group into support for the ‘Fourth Option’.


MPs heard evidence from 19 areas covering a range of issues. This included reports from councillors from authorities who have decided to retain their homes after consulting tenants (inc. Bolsover, Lewis), evidence of the post transfer experience (Sunderland, Coventry, Hackney) and complaints about one-sided and un-democratic consultations (inc. Clapham Park, Lambeth and Sedgefield).


The MPs will be writing up the evidence and submitting it to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. In the meantime more MPs are signing the current early day motion EDM 193 in Parliament backing the demand for direct investment in council housing as an alternative to privatisation.


Alan Walter from Defend Council Housing said after the session:


“The evidence we heard today shows that there is massive support amongst tenants and elected councillors for the ‘fourth option’. It is also clear that the government’s drive to privatise council housing has hit the buffers in a big way. Despite breaking all the normal democratic rules to try and bully tenants they are facing massive resistance. Half of all councils in England still have their homes and tenants in most of them aren’t going to give them up. What was encouraging was evidence of the increasing numbers of councils who are now backing their tenants rather than just trying to stuff government policy down our throats.”


Note for editors: 150 people from 26 areas attended the first inquiry session in May 2004. A further 30 people from 10 areas attended the second session in Gateshead last month.