CABINET DECISION ON CENTRAL HILL – VIEW FROM THE GALLERY
The meeting began with an impeccably observed minute’s silence for those who died in the previous day’s terrorist attack at Westminster. It was the lull before the storm.
The first item – before the main debate on Central Hill – related to key guarantees.
An incredibly smug-looking Cllr Matthew Bennett opened the bowling. With a huge smile on his face he delivered the usual tosh. “This report has come out after a lengthy process of consultation…there will be no loss of social housing….we also listened to the feedback from residents throughout 2016….(Laughter and shouts of ‘liar’).
“Nothing in the key guarantees has been watered down, nothing taken away, nothing reduced.”
(This wasn’t the view expressed later by a resident on Cressingham Gardens at Tulse Hill. And News From Crystal Palace will be taking a closer look at the issue next week – Ed.)
He admitted there would “almost certainly” be higher rents which would be phased in over five years and increased by two pounds a week or £5 a month on average. (‘What about service charges?’ asked someone in the audience.)
Shemi Leira, chairman of the tenants residents association on the Westbury estate, highlighted how the previous chairman of Lambeth Leasehold Council had resigned because of allegations of bullying by officers.
(Back in October 2016* News From Crystal Palace had reported these allegations, asked for a response from Lambeth council and, as has now become almost traditional, got no reply. Last night – finally -we did.)
Council leader Cllr Lib Peck, clearly angry, intervened immediately and said she would get an answer to that from an officer.
The female officer (no name given) said “Allegations were made. “No finding of any bullying or intimidation has been found. “There are no outstanding allegations.”
(And no report to committee either? – Ed.)
Then it was on to Central Hill. Cllr Bennett again – damp, black mould, dilapidated kitchens… (“That’s because you haven’t done any repairs” shouted someone from the audience.)
Government decision to cut rent by one per cent every year….
(So does that mean Lambeth council want to increase tenants rents? – Ed.)
Central Hill would need £18.5 million spent on it…..Independent experts say it could cost as much as £40 million (“Where’s your proof” shouted someone.)….”If we repaired every Central Hill home that would be three homes elsewhere that wouldn’t be repaired”
Cllr Bennett then provoked the biggest uproar of the meeting when he referred to ASH (Architects for Social Housing) which came up with plans for infill housing on Central Hill as “the so-called Architects for Social Housing.”
Cllr Bennett claimed that ASH’s proposals provided nothing but false hope and did nothing for social housing.”
He then came up with the figure which said 49 per cent of people living on Central Hill supported rebuilding.
Central Hill tenant Betty Adams, who was heard in silence, supported the regeneration. A tenant for nine years she said: “The estate is an eyesore. “There’s mould dripping on the outside walls of each building. “Roof balconies crate severe damp and mould.
“These building are below ground level and have caused a loit of ill-health. “My doctor and ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist say I will never get better unless I move out of my flat.
“I have steroids to help me breathe. “I’m due for surgery but the doctor won’t go ahead unless I move.””We have also been denied new bathrooms for three years. “Do please go ahead and get us out of this misery.”
After she had finished speaking there were shouts of “Who’s your landlord?”
While Betty Adams said she had been denied a new bathroom for three years it appears doorbells can be supplied:
“According to the survey I need a door entry costing £3,718” said Nicola Curtis. “That’s a very expensive doorbell. “We’ve just put doors on and we’re being told we need new doors. “No – we need new rooves and a landlord that maintains the property properly in the first place.”
QUOTES FROM THE MEETING:
“How was Cannes?” – audience member to Cllr Bennett (who wasn’t at the French property event – Ed.)
“I’m sure there will be a lot more complaints at the ‘call-in’ meeting.” – Gerlinde Gniewosz (Call in meetings are those which are ‘called in’, usually by an opposition councillor. These then go to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee which in most cases – but not all – just rubberstamp what the cabinet or other committee have decided in the first place.)
“I’m surprised some people on the political left have adopted this. “We’re supporting a push for more social housing….(“Rubbish” shouted someone from the audience.)…”Gentrification is chasing people out of London….(‘and you’re supporting it’) and the way to counter this is to provide housing people can afford.” – Cllr Jane Pickard
“It was only Sadiq Javid’s decision on the Aylesbury estate that forced you to improve your offer.” – Cllr Tim Briggs, Lambeth Conservative opposition leader.
“I will hold the council to account” – Gipsy Hill ward Labour Cllr Luke Murphy.
Further reading: LEASEHOLDERS CHAIRMAN QUITS AMID “COUNCIL BULLYING” CLAIMS – Green party councilor says siege mentality exists in Lambeth October 26th 2016 on this website.