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Union says housing boss 'tried to scupper letter to tenants'.

Byline: By CARL BUTLER

ANGRY unions have accused a council boss of blocking their moves to tell tenants about the dangers of transferring council houses out of council control.

They accuse an officer of misleading tenants to try and ensure Flintshire's council houses are transferred from council ownership.

The Joint Trade Unions Committee (JTUC) wants the addresses of more than 7,000 council tenants so they can write to them to put the case for retaining houses under council control.

But last night Flintshire council leader, Aaron Shotton, stepped into the row and said he was "greatly concerned" at the wording of the letter sent to tenants.

"I am concerned at the way in which the tenants have received this information from the authority. I will be seeking urgent meetings with the acting chief executive in order to demand a full investigation into why the letter was sent out to all tenants which has raised unnecessary concern with regard to the trade unions' request for information," he said.

Across Wales, councils are considering "stock transfers" to housing associations or tenant and council-run trusts as local authorities struggle to cope with huge repair and maintenance bills.

Associations or trusts can apply for grants not available to councils. Wrexham tenants have already rejected one attempt for a stock transfer.

In Flintshire, where the issue is still under consultation, unions say the authority will recommend a stock transfer as a way of financing improvements which otherwise cannot be paid for without big rent rises.

But the unions want to put the other side of the picture to tenants and need their addresses to write to them.

"Following this request the council's interim director of community and housing, Gerald Davies, has recently written to all tenants . . . encouraging them to give permission to the council not to release their addresses," said Sarah Taylor, secretary of the JTUC.

"What is absolutely disgraceful is the completely misleading nature of Mr Davies' letter in which he implies that the organisation concerned is requesting full details of the tenancy. The unions have simply requested a list of addresses of council properties, not including names."

A spokeswoman for Flintshire council said: "The council received a request from a third party for the addresses of every council home. This would not include the name of the occupier. The request is being dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the council's procedures.

"Following representations received from the trade unions the authority is currently considering the letter sent out to all tenants by the interim director."

carlbutler@dailypost.co.uk

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Aaron Shotton: Concern
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 6, 2007
Words:436
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