Saturday, March 01, 2008

Consultation, Hackney Council style

At the end of last year, Hackney Council consulted tenants about rent increases. The 'choice' the Council offered them was a 5% rise, 10% rise or 12% rise. What a fabulous choice! Between rises that you can't afford, really can't afford, and really really can't afford. It's a bit like the local burglar consulting you on whether s/he should rob some of your stuff, most of your stuff, or all of your stuff.

The result of the survey? 62% responded in support of the 5% rise. Hackney Council's Cabinet then took a long, hard look at the survey results, concluded that 62% was 'just over half' (?!), and voted to increase rents by 6.7% (a figure not even included in the consultation)! Blimey, if we'd know we could go for figures not mentioned in the consultation, everyone could have written '0%' on the form.

Lucky tenants have just received a letter from Councillor Laing telling them the good news.

That is what is so marvellous about 'consultation'. It's a different beast from 'democracy' or even 'negotiation'. The consulting body seemingly feels free to ignore any result that it does not like. Trade union reps will already be familiar with this phenomenon. As are Hackney people who were 'consulted' about the Homerton becoming a foundation hospital. And Hackney residents who were 'consulted' about whether we wanted our homes taken over by an ALMO.

Seems like another small patch of forest has been sacrificed in vain.

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