3 February 2010
Three Cheers - Bye, Bye Slough Council's ALMO

Three Cheers for the scrapping of another Tony Blair mistake - Slough's ALMO commonly known as 'People Last'. It was an enormously expensive disaster, continually mismanaged by interferring council officials who secretly flooded the incomptently run Hosuing Service with tens of millions of public cash.

Without consulting council tenants, former prime minister Tony Blair wanted to privatise council housing. The Royal Borough privatised their council homes and transferred them to Windsor Housing and to Parkside Housing. South Bucks transferred their council housing to Beacon Housing. When Slough's council tenants strongly objected, the Labour government refused to hand-over rent money, paid by tenants over many years, to modernise dingy kitchens and bathrooms.

Eventually a compromise was reached: Slough Council would have to set-up a semi-privatise company to management council homes. That was the ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) called People 1st (Slough) Limited.

The Conservative-Liberal alliance run by Cllr Richard Stokes created 'People Last' from the council's own badly run housing department supervised by expensive, but often crap, part-time consultants from Hounslow Homes.

People Last failed government inspections of competency and efficiency. Re-inspections were repeated delayed and then after much behind the scenes efforts and a great deal of extra cash, People Last got an average 2 star rating and the government released some money.

2 years after Labour took control of Slough Council, People Last is in deep trouble again. In the last week the Audit Commission stated:-

Slough housing service - improving but not yet good enough to qualify for extra funding

Because of People Last's low standards the government will never release the extra cash needed to complete the kitchens and bath rooms modernisations.

Knowing how difficult it will be to get People Last up to standard, Slough's Labour councillors have decided to scrap it at the end of the year and save scarce public money.

Millions of pounds of extra unplanned public cash has been pumped into council housing disasters in the last 5 years, the most famous being the dreadful Poplar and Tower blocks supervised by Cllr Tony Haines (BILLD, Wexham).

There is absolutely no reason why social housing should not be run properly in Slough but after 23 years of Labour and 4 years of Tory-Liberal management, Slough Council continues to lurch from crisis to crisis.

Council housing belongs with the council not with expensive poor-performing companies that seem to put people last.

Paul Janik
The Slough Party.