Group calls for election boycott

PUBLISHED: 19:28 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:47 11 May 2010

A CAMPAIGN group opposed to the sale of council housing stock in South Cambridgeshire is urging tenants to boycott a forthcoming election for tenant shadow board members. South Cambs Against Transfer (SCAT) objects to South Cambridgeshire District Council

A CAMPAIGN group opposed to the sale of council housing stock in South Cambridgeshire is urging tenants to boycott a forthcoming election for tenant shadow board members.

South Cambs Against Transfer (SCAT) objects to South Cambridgeshire District Council's (SCDC) plans to move ownership and management of council homes to a new not-for-profit housing association.

And in preparation for any possible transfer, the council wants to set up a shadow board, made up of five councillors, five independent members, and five tenants.

Dave Kelleway, chairman of Scat and a council tenant for 30 years, applied to stand for the shadow board.

But, after an interview involving private consultants working for the council, his application was turned down.

Mr Kelleway believes this is because he is opposed to transfer.

He said: "What kind of democracy is it when only candidates with one view are allowed to stand?

"It is outrageous that tenants are not free to choose which candidates they want to elect."

Another tenant, Tim Grief, was also interviewed and said that he was told he would be expected to campaign in favour of transfer.

Mr Grief said: "I think tenants are being cheated. Surely it is important to have all views represented on any decision-making body - and tenants should be free to decide who is to represent their views, rather than having candidates handpicked for them by the council's consultants."

The district council defended its process for short-listing tenant candidates.

It has drawn up a code of conduct, which states that board members must act in the way they consider, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the association.

Board members are also expected to avoid situations in which they have, or can have, a direct or indirect interest that conflicts or possibly may conflict with the interests of the association.

Cllr Simon Edwards, portfolio holder for housing, said: "All members of the shadow board must be able to comply with its code of conduct. This is normal practice for membership of any housing association board.

"All applicants were asked a series of standard questions, one of which was their ability to comply with the code of conduct.

"During the interviews it became clear that some applicants were unable to sign up to the code of conduct due to their public opposition to the possible transfer. This makes them ineligible for the positions.

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