We’re not racist so don’t axe cash, say Cannock tenants group
Members of a tenants group say council bosses are using accusations of racism within its ranks as ‘a stick to beat us with’.
Cannock Chase District Council will decide at tomorrow’s cabinet meeting whether to axe £20,000 a year funding to Chase Tenants and Residents Federation.
The group’s ‘excessive spending’ and alleged ‘inappropriate language’ regarding immigrants have been given as reasons for the move in a council report.
But senior figures in the group, which was set up in 1995, say they have been ‘painted in a bad light’.
An independent review into the federation – commissioned by the council – found that the group’s spending on taxis was considered ‘excessive’.
There were also concerns over members’ conduct in relation to comments made about immigrants and housing allocations.
Tom Dawson, vice-chairman of the group, which is based at Highfields Centre, Smalley Close, Hednesford, said: “We feel that any allegations over racist comments have been exaggerated greatly.
“We had been asked questions by residents over allocations for immigrants in Cannock Chase and posed that question to housing officers at the council.
“It was an honest question regarding what the authority’s plans for bringing immigrants to the area were, which was classed as racist by a leading housing officer.
“When we tried to clarify the situation, we were told that it was the attitude in which the question was delivered that made it racist. We feel that this has been used as a stick to beat us with and that we have been painted in a bad light.
“The council should be thanking us for the tireless work we carry out, rather than trying to make us look bad.
“We go to as many meetings as we can and occasionally we spend money on taxis, but we have not been wasteful at any point.”
Local authority chiefs say they will be able to connect better with residents, while spending less, by axing the federation and focussing on social media and magazines.
But Anne Ames, chairman of the group, said: “Residents associations are dealing directly with the problems that are on their estates. Who knows these problems better than the people who live on these estate?”