Shirley was a founder member of Defend Council Housing, set up in the 1990s when the Tory government started its major assault on council housing with attempts to transfer estates to private landlords. And now the Tories are on the offensive again.
In her Star Letter in March, headlined ‘Is this the end of council housing?’ Shirley hammered out the dangers of the proposed Housing & Planning Bill that intends to end secure tenancies, drive up rents with a ‘pay to stay’ tenant tax, push more people into insecure, private renting, give more land, power and money to developers and pressure councils to list council estates as brown-field sites, making demolitions easier.
Despite huge opposition from academics, MPs, housing charities, tenants, trade unionists, lawyers and faith leaders, this despicable Bill became law on May 16. However, it does not come into effect (if at all) until April 2017.
Sheffield Councillors and MPs have made verbal and written declarations that they are opposed to the Act and agreed the need for a campaign against it.
So in tribute to Shirley, we will step up the campaign – and the key actions at this point need to be to:–
Ensure that our council and local trade unions actively support the campaign against the Act.
Invite tenants, housing workers, trade unions reps and councillors to a city wide meeting to work out a strategy on how to oppose the Act.
Pledge that all new tenancies are offered as secure, lifetime tenancies rather than as fixed short term tenancies.
Refuse to collect data on tenants’ household income.
Refuse to sell vacant council homes to private buyers in order to fund starter homes for housing associations.
Ensure that no individual, group or estates of council dwellings are placed on the brown-field register.
The provision of housing cannot be left to the free market – Sheffield has one of the largest public housing areas in the country – we need to stand up and be counted – not just to defend what we have now – but to insist on the building of a new generation of good, environmentally friendly, affordable council owned housing.
Success in this campaign will be a fitting tribute to Shirley.
For more information email [email protected] or ring 0114 2483937.