Glasgow housing transfer may be breaking EU laws, claims petition

The controversial proposal to transfer Glasgow
Council’s housing stock to the Glasgow Housing Agency (GHA) may be
ruled illegal and in breach of European competition laws.

The European parliament in Brussels has been
petitioned by Mike Daily, principal solicitor with Govan Law
Centre, and Colin Deans, a council house tenant. The petition
claims that the Scottish executive did not offer choice or
introduce competition to the move because it proposed transfer to
the GHA only.

Furthermore, an offer by the Treasury to wipe
out the city’s housing debt and another offer by the Scottish
executive of an interest free loan of £300m to address GHA’s
cash flow problems – both conditional on the tenants voting in
favour of the transfer – are described as “preferential” and in
breach of the laws.

Daily describes the petition as “a deal
breaker for the whole project” if the European parliament agrees,
possibly resulting in direct intervention by the European
Commission and bringing the proposal to a halt. Deans said:
“Without the massive taxpayer subsidy, the GHA will have to shut up

Sean Clerkin, chairperson of the Glasgow
Campaign Against Stock Transfer, said: “We believe the executive is
flouting EU competition law by throwing public money at a private
company that is essentially a monopoly. It is at least questionable
and quite possibly illegal.”

The petition was submitted to Brussels as
Glasgow Council housing tenants ended the first week of voting on
the proposed transfer. Official estimates indicated that around
half of the 80,000 tenants had already returned their votes. The
result of the ballot is still expected to be announced on 5 April,
since action by the European parliament will take months before a
decision is made.

A spokesperson for the Scottish executive
refused to comment until the executive’s lawyers had examined the

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