LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE : Housing Stock Defeat Will Not Change Official Policy

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Byline: By Jonathan Walker Political Editor

Labour's conference has ended with the unions inflicting yet another defeat on the leadership, this time over the issue of council housing.

Delegates insisted local authorities must be allowed to raise money for the improvement of housing stock - without needing to transfer the properties to private ownership.

Government policy is to encourage councils to offload their housing onto private firms or housing associations.

Three years ago, Birmingham tenants voted by two to one against a proposal to transfer the city's entire housing stock to independent hands.

But a series of speakers at the Labour conference claimed the rules were stacked against councils, because they were barred from raising funds to repair and improve housing.

A motion supporting the Government line, supported by delegates from Dudley South Constituency Labour Party, was rejected.

And an alternative motion, demanding "direct investment to council housing", was approved, with the support of unions Unison and Amicus.

However, the results of the votes will not affect Government policy.

Party managers also stressed that they had won the votes among delegates from constituency parties, and were defeated only because of the union block votes.

Birmingham City Council is currently in the middle of a consultation with its 70,000 tenants about the possibility of offloading its housing stock. …