Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Anyone who watched the BBC Police Drama “Ashes to Ashes” will understand my concern that as a whole nation we may have been somehow transported back in time to the 1980’s The NHS is under threat from privatisation from a Tory Government, Unemployment  is at record levels, we have riots on the streets and tension between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands, and of course locally a Tory administration on Northampton Borough Council which wants to sell off our Council Housing stock!

For council housing the rot started when Margaret  Thatcher conned the country into believing that the "right to buy" council houses would create wealth and opportunity for all. Shelter ran an excellent campaign which pointed out that if the price of food had risen at the same rate as that of housing a chicken would now cost something like £25. We now have families told to use their living room as a bedroom, parents forced to share bedrooms with their children and families of five in one-bedroom accommodation told that they are not overcrowded. We have Council’s in wealthy parts of the country offloading their housing problems on poorer areas. We have a generation of sofa-surfers who do not even register on the homeless statistics. We have working people encouraged to turn on one another in competition for what little housing there is. And now we have a government that vilifies council tenants as scroungers, aided by the Mail, the Express and the Sun, in order to justify massive benefit cuts. It’s not less Council Housing we need, it is more! 

The 1980’s saw the criminal disposal of the vast bulk of the country's best council housing stock and an effective ban on new council house building. We have seen negative equity, homelessness and overcrowding rising relentlessly and house-price inflation that has put access to decent housing out of the reach of a generation. Our two Council’s Borough and County provide little service these days to tenants in Northampton, we can’t even afford street lights! But selling peoples homes from under their feet is the last straw.

The huge benefit of council housing that the some would have us forget is that it is democratic. If your council does a bad job maintaining your council homes you can vote them out. You cannot
do that to a private landlord, a bank or even a housing association. By destroying the welfare state and our rights to council homes the government Local and National are taking away democratic accountability. The Borough Council has now announced that they will spend £2m persuading,  or blackmailing council tenants to transfer to housing associations, or arms-length Housing Trusts. Housing associations can play a positive role as a minor co-operative sector, but they should not be the lead player in local social housing. 

The £2m the Council will waste on Consultation should be being spent on improvements to homes, but instead you wait and see all the propaganda sent out to tell you that only by selling out will you ever get your repairs seen to. 80% of Spring Boroughs residents are Council Tenants and the Council cannot sell your home unless they ballot you first and ask you to vote in favour of the sell out. . Like health, like social care, like education I believe that housing cannot be seen as a commodity but as an essential requirement for life. So when they ask you, I urge you all to respond, loud and clear with an unequivocal answer.


(with thanks to Britains finest Red Top newspaper - The Morning Star)


  1. We need more Council housing
    As with the rest of the country there is a housing crisis in Northampton. There are numerous families on the waiting list. Many young people cannot afford to own a home. For many who do have a mortgage it's a huge burden.
    For the first time in 25 years Northampton has built a few Council houses. The only realistic way to tackle this crisis and reduce the waiting list is to build new
    Council housing on a large scale. We believe that we need to hang on to our housing and campaign for the finance to build new Council housing.

  2. The only problem with the "right to buy" sell-off was that the proceeds were not immediately re-invested in constructing new council houses. Had that been done then the housing shortage would not have become as critical as it now is.

  3. Anon, another rarely aired problem arising from the right to buy is that at one time council tenants lived cheek by Jowel with private homeowners.

    My council house was in Park Avenue North! These council homes in mixed communities have now all been sold and social housing is only available on estates full of social housing, we have lost the "pepper potting" which enabled people to co exist as neighbours irrespective of their tenure or ownership.

  4. Right to Buy in Northampton …

    Since 1980 this accounts for 7,365 properties being taken out of NBC Housing Stock, 6,629 freeholds and 736 leasehold.

    If you applied for Right to Buy on or after January 18th 2005 and wish to sell within 10 years you must offer the property back to the council before you put it on the open market.

    Just out of interests 36 have been offered back none have been purchased.

  5. Why did the council not purchase those 36? I do feel that the borough council would like to simply sell all our houses and then they wouldn't have anything to worry about, no more repairs etc. Why do they not carry out repairs unless it is absolutely essential?

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