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OPPOSITION TO BIRMINGHAM HOUSE TRANSFERS

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Plans by Birmingham City Council to transfer more than 90,000 homes to a trust have been attacked by the opposition...
Plans by Birmingham City Council to transfer more than 90,000 homes to a trust have been attacked by the opposition Tory members.

The Birmingham Post (p3) reports that under the deal, yet to be formally agreed, the government will wipe out Birmingham's£650m housing debts accrued during the past 50 years.

Conservative member John Lines described the scheme as a 'road to disaster'. He said: 'This spells the end for council housing in Birmingham. We are proposing to wipe out a£650m debt and then incur another one of£600m simply because the government won't give Birmingham the money to improve its council homes.

'The city's council homes have been run in a disastrous way, with crumbling properties, the debt, uncollected rent. The political blame game has now come to an end.'

But housing chairman Dennis Minnis said it was a positive way forward for the city's tenants. 'In the past the£63m has been used to pay off the interest,' he said. 'It is money down the drain. Under the new scheme we will still be spending the money on interest charges, but the difference will be that we will have a huge cheque in the bank which we can use. At the moment we can't spend anything.'

An official bid for the£650m debt write-off will be submitted to Whitehall this month and the go-ahead is expected in April. A tenant referendum will be held on the new arrangements next autumn and, provided there is a 'yes' vote, the modernisation programme will be launched in April 2001.

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