Carole Swords at her home in Bow
By Angela Saini
Campaigner Carole Swords has dedicated two years to fighting housing transfer on her estate in Bow... but she's losing the battle so far
Carole Swords has become a familiar face in Tower Hamlets since launching an impassioned battle against the government to stop her council estate from transferring to a housing association, under the Government’s Housing Choice scheme.
More than 2,000 homes on Bow's so-called 'Parkside Estates', made up of Lakeview, Lanfranc, Locton, Ranwell East and Ranwell West estates, were due to go out of council control to Old Ford Housing Association following a secret ballot of tenants, who voted in favour of the transfer by a majority of by 413 votes to 406 – in all, approximately a third of residents took part.
Losing the battle
In the weeks before the transfer Carole brought a legal case against the Government, claiming that the Communities Secretary, Ruth Kelly, had not taken into account all the objections against the transfer. She maintains that the secret ballot had been unfairly conducted.
Although she managed to get a temporary injunction from the High Court to stop the transfer, three judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed her case.
Lord Justice Wilson stated: "In my view, all the complaints brought to her attention were treated by the Secretary of State with a degree of attention at least equivalent to, and in my view greater than, that which the law requires."
As a result, Old Ford Housing Association took over control of the estate in July 2007.
Why Housing Choice?
Housing Choice is a scheme that allows council tenants to vote whether they want to move control of their properties from the council to a housing association. Tower Hamlets Council has introduced it to all 30,000 council properties in the borough.
The housing association becomes the new landlord. It is a not-for-profit organisation that manages, maintains and improves houses under its control.
The council's website states, "For reasons beyond our control, we do not have the money needed to repair and maintain council homes. The difference between the money we need to spend to bring homes up to a decent standard and the money we can get from rents and the government is £436 million."
17 estates in Tower Hamlets have now undergone housing transfer, 13 estates voted against it, and three are awaiting transfer.
What do you think about Housing Choice in Tower Hamlets? Send your views to me at email@example.com
last updated: 01/01/2008 at 17:08