Thursday, 1 October 2009

The letter that will never be printed

Not the least regrettable feature of the sudden demise of the Neath Guardian was that the letters page was dumped in favour of a retrospective article.

At least I have Web access and can post my last letter below. I am sorry for any reader who put a letter in and is not online. Anyway, I am not about to let Alun Llewelyn have the last word:

Letter to Neath Guardian "points of view"

Does Alun Llewelyn (“points of view”, September 24) really claim that the economic policies of the current coalition government in Cardiff are “Plaid-led”? If so, he must be accepting responsibility for the overwhelming financial pressure on local authorities to persuade their tenants to say “Yes” to housing stock transfer.

Of course this is not so. We both know that the Plaid Cymru housing minister is following the Labour policy made in Westminster, just as the Nationalists have done about-turns on fair votes and local income tax in return for their ministerial seats.

Frank Little
Prospective parliamentary candidate,
Neath constituency


Plaid Whitegate said...

It may help your cause if you explained where you stood on this matter? Are you for stock transfer or against?

Frank H Little said...

I believe the council should not be "bamboozled and browbeaten" (the words of Labour MP Austin Mitchell) into pressuring its tenants into voting "Yes" to a transfer. It is noticeable that the Westminster government is, after 12 years, relaxing some of the rules in England and encouraging council-house building. This relaxation has not been extended to Wales yet.

The government is using the system of subsidies and allowances to penalise councils where the housing stock is retained. Spending programmes will be badly affected as a result. So, much though I regret giving in to demands with menaces, for the sake of the future development of the county borough, life will be a bit easier if there is a "Yes" vote. Note that I am not recommending either "Yes" or "No". The tenants have their own agendas and, besides, there are no family council homes in my ward.

I do believe in the cooperative mutual model of housing corporation as the best alternative to council housing. I also believe that tenants should have the right to choose between landlords. (Not all council housing departments are highly regarded by their tenants.) But the choice should be a free and fair one, not driven from above by concerns about the PSBR or by political bias against public ownership.

The Neath Port Talbot vote has been put off once. What I hope for is a further delay until a more local-government-friendly House of Commons is elected.

Yes, I know housing is a devolved matter, but it is Whitehall which makes the financial rules.