Tenants who have chosen to stick with their council as their landlord gathered in Birmingham this week as Birmingham City Council, the largest stock retained authority in England, hosted this year’s Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) tenants’ and residents’ conference.
ARCH was set up to fight for a better deal for tenants who have chosen for their council to be their landlord. Over 100 member authorities’ tenants and residents attended the event at the Banqueting Suite at Birmingham Council House on 13th May. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Michael Wilkes officically opened the event.
Marlene Price, chair of ARCH tenants’ sub-group, welcomed people who live in council homes across the country. Marlene said, ‘One of the key strengths of ARCH is that it ensures the views of those of us who live in council homes are put forward. This conference will help tenants keep abreast of changes in housing policy and finance and provide an opportunity for tenants’ views to be captured, so they are fully reflected as ARCH steps up pressure in the fight for a better deal to replace the current unfair finance system.’
Cllr Milan Radulvic, ARCH’S national chair and housing portfolio holder at Broxtowe BC, said: ‘We have made great strides in pushing council housing up the political agenda since ARCH was set up in 2006 and our membership continues to expand. We hope that the new Parliament will listen to one million tenants who have chosen for their local authority to be their landlord and finally give us the fairer funding system we have been campaigning for.’
Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr John Lines, said: ‘As you know we all have something in common – retained council housing. I am proud of the tradition of council housing in this city.
‘Tenants in Birmingham made it very clear on a number of occasions that they wanted to remain with the council as their landlord. I gave a commitment to improve their homes to the decent homes standard and I am proud that we have been able to exceed the government’s target by what is known in this city as ‘Birmingham’s Fourth Option’. Not only that but we have started the largest building of council homes across the city in three decades, through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust with a plan to build 500 new homes a year, and yes, these new homes will be managed by the council.
‘We joined ARCH to work alongside other retained stock authorities to lobby the government for a change in the biased and unfair subsidy system and to pursue other matters of which we share a common interest.
‘Tenants are at the heart of all we do in Birmingham and I have had the greatest pleasure over the years of working with tenants and leaseholders and together we have made significant improvements.
Jim Nicholl, Birmingham’s tenant and leaseholder representative on the ARCH sub committee said, ‘Birmingham has led the way when it comes to reforming council housing policy and I’m delighted that the tenants played a crucial role in this, alongside Cllr Lines. I’m delighted this event is being held here at the Council House and I am sure it will prove a great help for tenants and leaseholders from retained authorities across the country to come together and share ideas. We will continue to work closely with local authorities to meet the needs of its tenants and leaseholders.’
For further press information contact Nicola Carroll from ARCH on 01422 842 470 or email@example.com or contact Belinder Kaur Lidher from Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information on ARCH visit www.arch-housing.org.uk
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1) The Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) is a cross party political body which was set up for councils whose tenants have chosen the local authority as their landlord.
2) ARCH has contributed to the review of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy System, under which council rents are paid into a national pot for redistributive purposes. ARCH has called for a new self-financing system. It will be responding to proposals for reform, upon which consultation is taking place. Details are available at:
3) Birmingham City Council has retained direct ownership of some 68,000 properties following ballots among tenants and is the largest council landlord in England.
4) ARCH recently published Under One Roof: The holistic benefits of retained council housing, which outlines the result of research demonstrating the added value local authority direct ownership and management of housing brings in terms of meeting local government’s wider goals and joining up service delivery.