The great ALMO swizz

VETERANS of campaigns to stop the privatisation of Camden’s council homes will be interested in developments in next door Islington. Discussions, the Islington Tribune reports this week, are taking place to end the ALMO. ALMO,  now there’s a haunting acronym we haven’t heard in a while. ALMOs (Arms-Length Management Organisations) are the independent companies set up by the government to wrench council housing away from local authority control. Successive Labour housing ministers thought the idea was so great that when Camden tenants refused to play the game, they penalised them with the withdrawal of promised investment in their homes. Camden, as a result, is way behind other London councils in bringing properties up to scratch.

But, in the light of developments in Islington, you have to ask why so much pressure was heaped on Camden to go for an ALMO in the first place, six years ago. The debate over the future of Homes For Islington on the other side of the border is hardly a great advert for what Camden could have had. Tenants were right to say they wanted to keep a democratically elected landlord in the Town Hall. They didn’t deserve to be punished for being wise before the event.

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