Abandon right to buy

Obviously the coalition government thinks that there are not enough council homes being sold off.

They are raising the discount rate under their ‘right to buy’ scheme for Council houses to 70 per cent.

They originally said that there would be a ‘one for one replacement’ of those homes sold off. This was always an empty promise.

Last year there were 40 homes sold in Swindon, to the value of £3,735,000. With the discount the receipts were only £1,830,320. Yet when the government had finished robbing us of our money the council ended up with only £450,000.

The government has instituted a ban on councils charging council rents for homes built with the receipts. They have to charge so-called “affordable rent” (up to 80 per cent of the private market rent). It’s difficult to imagine a more stupid policy. It will simply push up the level of housing benefits paid.

When the new Housing Finance system was introduced in April 2012 there was a ‘one-off debt settlement’ whereby the national housing debt was shared out amongst councils that owned their housing stock.

This was supposed to mean that councils had ‘bought themselves out’ of the old system and they now owned their housing stock. How come the government takes the lion’s share of the receipts from these sales? Why do they take any money at all?

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group believes that RTB should be abandoned. With such a large shortage of council housing we cannot afford to lose any. Whilst the government's 'bedroom tax' is supposed to be freeing up larger family homes, it’s interesting to note that 30 of the 40 homes sold were 3 or 4 bedroom properties. So RTB is decreasing the amount of such homes available.

However, so long as RTB exists then we believe that the town should be able to use the receipts as we see fit. Central government should have no say in the matter. Swindon Council should follow other councils that have refused the government diktats in relation to receipts.

Both Swindon Council and its MPs should be protesting at these impositions from Westminster and demanding the right for us to decide how to spend receipts from the sale of Swindon’s council housing stock. If the government wants to give power back to localities, why is it telling councils that they have to do what Westminster decides?

Martin Wicks, Secretary, Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, Welcombe Avenue, Swindon


Haves and have nots

I would like to thank Mr Des Morgan for his response to my recent letter regarding foodbanks. It’s pleasing to note that my letter has had a response and that the detail might have been a bit off base, I have been collecting food for various charities both here and in Africa for the last 43 years, having also witnessed the long queues of malnourished children in South Africa and Zimbabwe, so I feel I have quite in-depth, hands on charity work experience.

I was a proud member of the Lions Club International for 25 of those years.

The ‘haves’ that I was referring to are the people who walk past the collection point and then come out with loaded trolleys and ten huge packets of crisps.

A ‘have not’ is a young girl who works in The Olive Tree Cafe as a volunteer but on Friday she brought her contribution – a box of tea and a can of soup.

She was prepared to go without and pass these on.

Society does support the needy in the UK, but try explaining this to a young mum with two kids, no income etc when she comes into our distribution centre desperate to feed her harmless children.

I thank all of you who do contribute, for without you there would be no foodbanks.

Rob Fenton, Aiken Road, Swindon


Oppose hunting evil

There was a report in the national newspapers that a quarter of a million people turned out to support 250 fox hunts on Boxing Day although they admit that 80 per cent of the population are against hunting.

There is a desperate attempt to alter the Fox Hunting Act before the next general election.

Be very careful on using numbers to justify a cause; millions of people supported slavery and millions supported Adolf Hitler.

The crowds shouted that Christ should be crucified, even those who were against it were silent.

Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.

Rev H W Jones, Summer House Road, Wroughton, Swindon


Debt out of control

Does your regular correspondent Steve Thompson realise that the British National Debt is rising at the rate of £3,000 a second?

He has often said that an increase in government borrowing would stimulate the British economy, but our debts are spiralling out of control.

The British governmen must work to bring income and expenditure back into balance. We cannot continue to borrow at the rate of £3,000 a second.

Noel Gardner Carlisle Avenue Swindon Bulgaria stamps in It’s been reported that Great Uncle Bulgaria is to appear on new stamps issued by Royal Mail. Could this be the start of the Bulgarian invasion that Nigel Farage and the xenophobic immigrant bashing right-wing (right-whinge) tabloids have been warning us about?

Martin Webb, Swindon Road, Swindon


Stalling the EU vote

It’s very clear to me that the vote regarding the ‘in or out’ of Europe will be stalled until the moaning old fogies like me, (who, by the way voted for a trading agreement with Europe not a political agreement and union in 1975) are dead and buried. Well I for one am determined to stay alive for as long as it takes to vote for the UK to leave the EU.

C J Meek, Cloche Way, Swindon


Labour cost us dear

As we approach both the local elections and a general election next year, it is to be expected that contenders will take any and every chance to get their picture in the paper. As a result, in the last few days, we have now had two photo calls of Labour would-bes doing their best to get across the cost of living jibe and whatever else they can think of.

Can Coun Dempsey confirm that in 2008 the cost of rail travel in the region went up between 5 and 11 per cent? If he is so good, will he tell us what the percentage rise each year was between 1997 and 2010?

For every year that they were in office between 1997 and 2010, they put up the cost of fuel each year, (12 rises in all). So what did that do to the cost of living? And when they were voted out of office in 2010, they left in place a fuel escalator, which if it hadn't been stopped by this government, would mean that petrol would now be at 20p a litre more.

T Reynolds, Wheeler Avenue, Swindon