The Consultation Which Isn’t Consulting – Yet.

The current tenant engagement consultation is advertised as having started on July 19th when I understand the Leader of the Council addressed the City HLB. The three month consultaton is therefore about halfway through.

Page 4 of the consultation document states that “views are also sought from Birmingham residents across all housing tenures (the wider community), staff of Birmingham City Council……” etc.

As of today however, I have heard of no-one apart from HLB members who has been consulted with – and now I know the reason why!  The Labour led Council isn’t apparently even planning to send out letters to potentially interested parties until September 3rd. No 12 week consultation period for them then, since the consultation ends on October 11th.

Meanwhile I hear not a peep about this from Labour Councillors. (Nor Labour MPs come to that.) Do they know what their own leadership is proposing I wonder?

Quite apart from the abolution of HLBs which is a real kick in the teeth for volunteers who have worked for up to 20 years in a purely voluntary capacity to improve their neighbourhoods, I have serious concerns about the future of the old HLB budgets.

Labour plan to take them out of tenants’ control, so that instead of tenants deciding how the funding is spent as now, all they will be able to do in future is bid into the fund (which will be renamed Ward Housing Funding). It is then (according to the consultation document) the Councillors who will decide which projects are funded through the Ward Commitees, and NOT the tenants.

But now I find it gets worse. Consultees (when they get round to consulting with them) are to be told that, as well as tenants being able to bid for Ward Housing Funding money, non- Council tenants will also be able to suggest proposals or make joint bids for Ward Housing Funding and Community Chest Fund for projects which benefit council and non-council neighbourhoods.

So – under Labour – instead of just Council tenants having the right to decide where the money for their estates is spent as they do now through the HLBs, in future they can’t make the decisions – they will only be able to bid in and ask Councillors to allocate it, AND they will have to compete with non-Council tenants from other parts of their wards making suggestions as to how the Ward Housing Fund (which is money for the Council’s housing estates) is spent. Imagine the uproar there would have been if the Conservatives had suggested this. But make no mistake about it – it is Labour who plan to take this money away from the HLB tenant groups and give it to Councillors to spend. And it is Labour who plan to let non-Council tenants make suggestions about how the money is spent. Why doesn’t Labour trust our tenants to make their own decisions? Why are they taking power away from them? And why are Labour Councillors taking it lying down?

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