Tenants say ‘Yes’ to co-operative
Council tenants in Rochdale have voted ‘Yes’
to creating the largest housing mutual in the country.
Ownership of 13,700 homes will transfer from
Rochdale Borough Council to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) in
March next year.
The vote comes just weeks after Rochdale was
declared the World Capital of Co-operatives and as the borough
prepares to celebrate the International Year of Co-operatives next
The decision should, subject to final Council
and Government approval, mean that RBH will become the UK’s first
tenant and employee co-owned mutual landlord.
Fittingly, the announcement was made by
Council leader, Councillor Colin Lambert, on Wednesday 21 December
at 8pm – the same date and time the Rochdale Pioneers opened their
co-op store on Toad Lane in 1844, which is recognised as being the
catalyst for the global Co-operative Movement.
The announcement, which was made at
Touchstones in Rochdale town centre, to an audience of over 60
including members of the Rochdale Tenants’ Panel, the borough’s two
MPs, Simon Danczuk and Jim Dobbin, councillors and council officers
was greeted with cheers and applause.
The vote will result in a £169 million
improvement programme for homes and estates in the first five years
– much more than would have been possible if the houses had stayed
with the Council.
Councillor Lambert said: “I am delighted that,
on this important date in Rochdale’s history, we have been able to
announce that the borough is going to be home to the country’s
largest housing mutual to be run along co-operative principles.
This continues the ambitious, pioneering spirit of the 28 workers
who set up the Toad Lane store and it’s an exciting development
that will quite rightly take its place in our co-operative
“The Council has believed from day one that
any decision to transfer the homes should rest entirely with
residents and now that they have made their choice we’ll be working
hard to ensure a smooth transfer to RBH.”
The ballot was carried out by the independent
organisation Electoral Reform Services. Almost 9,000 residents
voted – a turn-out of 56% with three to one in favour of the
Noel Chambers, Chair of the RBH Board, also
welcomed the news: “Throughout this process we’ve worked hard to
ensure that tenants were provided with all the information they
needed to make an informed decision. I’d like to say a big thank
you to tenants for voting and to staff and Council colleagues. The
support of our two MPs, Simon Danczuk and Jim Dobbin, has been
unstinting and both have worked hard behind the scenes.
“We’re delighted and proud that we are able to
move towards creating the UK’s biggest housing mutual here in the
birthplace of co-operation.”
Chair of Rochdale Tenants’ Panel, Lynne
Brosnan, added: “Tenants should be congratulated for making such a
momentous decision. Now it is up to RBH to deliver the brighter
co-operative future we have voted for.
“The hard work begins now. The next few months
will be spent preparing and making sure everything is in place for
the transfer next year.”
CHEERING NEWS: Councillor Colin Lambert
announces the result to a cheering audience
IT’S A YES: Pictured with the Mayor Councillor
Alan Godson and Council Leader Councillor Colin Lambert, is Lynne
Brosnan, Chair of Rochdale Tenant’s Panel (front row, second
Also pictured are the Chair of the RBH
Board Noel Chambers (third row on the far left), Rochdale
Council’s Chief Executive Roger Ellis (next to Noel Chambers),
the Cabinet Members for Performance and Partnerships and Health,
Adult Care and Housing, Councillor Jacqueline Beswick (second left
in front of Noel Chambers) and Councillor Linda Robinson
(between Noel Chambers and Roger Ellis), RBH’s Chief Executive
Gareth Swarbrick (far right, back row), and members of the Tenants’