Housing association throws councillors off panel over criticism of plans to demolish landmark flats


A housing association has thrown two councilors off its representative body after a hearing found they had broken its code of conduct. Councilors Danny Meredith and Sultan Ali have been removed from the Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) panel for publicly criticizing controversial plans to demolish four of the town’s ‘Seven Sisters’ tower blocks.

It comes after the pair tabled a motion at a council meeting calling on the mutual to ‘reconsider’ its proposal to drop the landmark flats, noting that RBH were leaving 300 flats ‘dormant’, while 8,000 people in the borough were waiting for a home . The representative body – made up of tenants, employees and councilors – has responsibilities that include approving RBH’s corporate strategy and appointing non-executive directors.

A disciplinary panel found the Labor duo had significantly breached the requirement to act in the best interests of RBH at all times, work cooperatively with its board and not bring it into disrepute. A letter to Coun Meredith notes press articles in which he is ‘directly quoted’ as well as ‘the contents of social media posts and video posted on Twitter by yourself, again regarding the College Bank flats’.

READ MORE : Housing association accused of doing ‘nothing’ for LGBTQ+ tenants in new ‘three-year vision’

But the councillor, who works as a nurse, has accused RBH of not being clear about the nature of the alleged breaches and holding the hearing – on March 29 – while he was on shift. “They have not been transparent with me in the full investigation of what has been going on. They have asked if I want to appeal. I have not seen any of the evidence they have put in. I’m unsure what I’m appealing.

“From the start they knew my position with the Seven Sisters and knocking down those flats – which are vitally needed homes while we are in a housing crisis. I’m still confused. If they had any issue with views and opinions why did they let me on the representative body and then make a big song and dance of throwing me off?!”

Coun Meredith also disputes that a letter to RBH following the council meeting was critical of the housing provider. He added: “They want me to turn around and apologize for criticizing them on College Bank. That letter was not criticizing them, I was asking them to reverse their decision.”



Councilor Daniel Meredith.

Meanwhile, Coun Ali, said he did not agree with RBH’s decision but was glad the matter had now been settled. I have told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he ‘genuinely’ did not feel he was free to speak his mind as a member of the representative body – and any criticism of RBH was taken personally.

“The objective of speaking your mind is to improve things for both the organization and constituents that live in Rochdale,” he said. “Being a local elected councilor and a member of an organization like RBH is a conflicting role – it’s difficult to balance, it’s a difficult role.

“There’s an inherent conflict in being on on the representative body and being a local councillor.” Coun Ali added: “There’s no way back for me, I didn’t intend to do RBH any harm, I’m just speaking my mind and saying things as they are.”

A spokesperson for RBH said: “The RBH Representative Body is made up of elected tenant and employee members, as well as two nominees from Rochdale Borough Council. All members of the Representative Body are subject to their agreed Code of Conduct. The Representative Body have now concluded their investigation into a complaint made about a breach of the Code of Conduct.

“As a result of this, the Representative Body voted to remove Councillor Meredith and Councillor Ali from the RBH Representative Body. This decision can only be made by the Representative Body itself.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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