City's Tenants get less from Labour
Tenant participation in Bristol is a shambles. It is time tenants were informed about what has really been happening. For example, a Housing Management reorganisation by the Labour Party that has centralised the service and excluded loyal tenants, who have served their communities well for many years, from participating in the decision-making process.
Improvements worsen for tenants
The recent reorganisation by the Labour Party disbanded the area housing committees and City-wide forum, thereby removing tenants from the active management of their homes. This re-organisation removed a vital component of tenant participation and did not replace it.
In some cases, the proposed new areas of representation are so large that tenants are going to have difficulty getting to meetings. Tenant Participation seems to be going backwards - back to the days when the Council dominated tenants without consultation. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Tenants’ much respected Environmental Improvement Budget is to be cut again - this time by a third from £15 per property to £10. Once again there has been no consultation with tenants about the changes, despite them having been involved in the management of this Budget in the past.
The new Service User Groups, which are intended to increase Tenant Participation, are in very real danger of becoming talking shops and are already being treated with disdain by some officers. A recent Service User Group meeting had to be held with no officers present. How long will it be before all tenants realise the shortcomings of the SUGs, and boycott them completely?
So what are tenants doing about this? The City of Bristol Federation was formed to strive to retain tenants’ influence of the City Council’s system of housing governance – and champion Tenant Management Organisations which put tenants, properly funded, into the driving seat. Unfortunately, a promised City Council start-up grant for the City of Bristol Federation has been constantly delayed. The Lib Dem Housing spokesperson, Cllr Mike Popham, when questioning the Labour Executive at Full Council earlier in the year faced insult in the response from Cllr Judith Price that, on the one hand stated that ‘no application for a grant had been received’ and, on the other, that ‘£100 pa was to be made available’. To date, it has yet to be granted even though an application was submitted several months ago, and acknowledged by officers as having been received.
What has happened to the Labour Government’s intention to increase tenant empowerment? It is being reversed in Bristol!