18 August 2009
The Future of Slough Council's ALMO People Last

6 years ago prime minister Tony Blair promised money to modernise council housing but only if local councils transferred all their council homes to housing associations. South Bucks handed-over their council homes to Beacon Housing. Windsor & Maidenhead gave their council homes to Windsor Housing and to Parkside Housing.

Slough's council tenants strongly objected. Labour councillors' compromise was the council would created an ALMO - Arms Length Management Organisation - to take-over the running of all council homes.

On 23 February 2004, I leaked to the Slough Express an internal Slough Council memo offering staff overtime rates to bang on tenants doors and persuade them to vote for the ALMO.

Despite lots of publicity, lots of free food, free gifts and spending many thousands of pounds only 47.2% of tenants and 25.3% of leaseholders voted to have an ALMO. The majority wanted the council's housing department to continue.

The council then set-up a company called People 1st (Slough) Limited. It was staffed by some council workers. All the top jobs went to expensive consultants from Hounslow Homes and a woman who travelled daily from Birmingham. After several years, the council terminated the Hounslow Homes contract because of poor performance.

Now rumours are circulating the government has cut funding for the ALMO and councillors will be forced to privatise all council homes by transferring them to housing associations. If this happens Slough's council tenants may loose their Right to Buy their council home.

ALMO chairman Sue Morris is said to be resigning. ALMO chief executive Andrew Billany is leaving in October.

Slough Council must give a clear public statement about the status and future of its ALMO, People First (often called People Last because of its poor performance). Council tenants have a right to know what is going to happen to them.


Paul Janik
The Slough Party.