Wheelie bin protest over tenants election

PUBLISHED: 19:53 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:50 11 May 2010

NO VOTE: Andrew Fowler and a group of tenants dispose of their ballot papers in a wheelie bin. L1200692

NO VOTE: Andrew Fowler and a group of tenants dispose of their ballot papers in a wheelie bin. L1200692

SOUTH Cambridgeshire District Council tenants have taken part in a protest against an election which, they believe, will lead to their homes being transferred to a private company. Andrew Fowler, 46, of Meldreth Road, Shepreth, is a council tenant and a m

SOUTH Cambridgeshire District Council tenants have taken part in a protest against an election which, they believe, will lead to their homes being transferred to a private company.

Andrew Fowler, 46, of Meldreth Road, Shepreth, is a council tenant and a member of anti-transfer campaign group South Cambs Against Transfer (SCAT).

And on Tuesday, Mr Fowler was at Shepreth Village Hall with a green wheelie bin, inviting tenants to dispose of their voting papers.

The district council is currently re-running an election for tenant members of a 'shadow board', which is to be set up to discuss the transfer of housing stock to a new not-for-profit housing association.

The initial election was scrapped after the council sent a number of voting papers addressed to people who had died, and to those who had moved away from the area.

Replacement voting papers have now been sent to tenants, who can choose up to five candidates from a shortlist of six to represent them on the board.

Mr Fowler, who is the chairman of community radio station Roysia FM, said: "I want to make a statement to the council that we don't want to have our homes handed over to a private company.

"We have secure tenancies at the moment, but this new housing company could come along and say 'we are kicking you out next week and there is nothing you can do about it.'"

A number of tenants came along to throw away their voting papers, including John Taylor, of Castle Camps.

Mr Taylor said: "I have come along to do my bit to help defend council housing and to protest against the un-democratic way that the council is conducting this process."

And two district councillors also turned up to support Mr Fowler's campaign.

Foxton and Fowlmere Cllr Deborah Roberts said: "This is an opportunity for people to state they are not happy with the process that South Cambs District Council has put into being here."

And Bassingbourn Cllr Nigel Cathcart added: "I am concerned about the proposal to sell off housing stock.

"This issue has come up three times on the council in 18 years and I have been opposed to it every time."

Mr Fowler will be taking his bin on tour around the South Cambs villages until August 6, when the ballot closes.

He said: "Once I have collected all the voting papers they will be bundled up and returned to the district council."

A spokesman for South Cambs District Council said: "All tenants have been offered the chance to vote for tenant members of the shadow board, and we are keen that as many tenants as possible exercise that vote.

"Ultimately, however, the decision is theirs, as it is in any democratic vote.

"The legitimacy of those tenants elected should not be called into question, as long as we have carried out the election process correctly.

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