Tonight we had the first council meeting since the election. This was an extraordinary meeting called by the new Labour administration to discuss one motion:
This Council resolves that with immediate effect its support for privatising the Management Contract of Ealing Homes is removed. The Council mandates officers to immediately draw up proposals to return Ealing Homes to direct management by the Council.
There was a rumbustuous debate and this evening the Conservative group issued the following statement:
LABOUR SIGNALS INFLATION BUSTING RENT HIKES FOR TENANTS WITH COUNCIL VOTE
Ealingâ€™s incoming Labour administration this evening signalled hefty hikes in rents for Council tenants to pay for the costs of bringing housing management to direct Council control.
At the first Council meeting following Labourâ€™s win at the local elections, Labour councillors voted to bring Ealing Homes back in-house. This changed policy from the previous Conservative administration which would have let not-for-profit organisations with housing expertise manage housing, and given tenants the right to sack their manager if they were not satisfied.
Council Officers have said that the policy of the Labour administration will leave a funding gap of around Â£3M as increased costs are brought in-house as a result of changing systems and funding pensions. The increased costs will add around Â£165 to the average Council tenantâ€™s bill if Labour chooses not to cut the maintenance budget or the regeneration programme started by the previous Conservative administration.
Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Jason Stacey said he was disappointed that Labour had not accepted his amendment to cap rents at a rate of increase not greater than inflation. He said:
â€œLabour have every right to change the way they manage Council services, but it was plain from the debate tonight that when it comes to Council housing they are driven more by ideology than wanting to keep down costs or improve the level of service for Council tenants.
â€œIn four years of control, Conservatives managed to keep Council rent increases below the rate of inflation. The reason Labour canâ€™t and wonâ€™t make this same commitment is they know that bringing the service back in-house will be more expensive for tenants.â€