OPINION – WE HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN LAMBETH COUNCIL EITHER…..
News From Crystal Palace wish to add our own support for the unanimous vote of ‘no confidence’ in Lambeth council held in the wake of Monday night’s cabinet meeting.
The way in which the council – especially its increasingly beleaguered cabinet – have ridden roughshod over people’s honestly-held views on both Cressingham Gardens and the borough’s ten libraries has been, and continues to be, utterly appalling. So we would say this to EVERY cabinet member:
Your actions have caused a lot of anger, heartache and unnecessary anxiety as people battle for their homes and their libraries.
Your so-called ‘consultations’ over both the libraries and Cressingham Gardens have been nothing but a sham.
At least three local Labour ward parties apparently told their councillors to vote against the libraries scheme. They didn’t – or were not allowed to. (Although it has to be said that some councillors at the meeting at Elmgreen school in West Norwood last November did not appear to raise their hands to vote either in favour, against or to abstain).
You clearly haven’t thought through the library plans.
You clearly haven’t thought through the Cressingham Gardens plans either.
You’re just doing what you b***** want to – and stuff everyone else.
One of the reasons you refused to implement the scheme put forward by Lambeth’s own head of libraries Susanna Barnes was that it did not conform to the council’s own Culture 2020 plans. (Not that anyone but you lot seemed to want it in the first place).
How unbelievably arrogant.
But hang on a moment.
You decided not to turn either Tate Lambeth South library or Durning library into a gym.
This clearly does not conform to your own Culture 2020 plans. We’d love to hear whatever barmy reason you come up with to justify that one
And you still haven’t said whether the new library which will replace both Tate Lambeth South and Durning will have its own unwanted gym. News From Crystal Palace thinks the people should be told.
The report to Monday’s cabinet meeting has a sub-plot that merits an entirely different news story. Something like this:
LAMBETH ADMIT: WE LET COUNCIL HOMES GO TO WRACK AND RUIN” – SHOCKHORRORPROBE
A shock report by Lambeth council admits they have let tenants homes go to wrack and ruin.
Homes on the Cressingham gardens estate will need £30,000 each to repair them – on Central Hill the (previously reported) figure is £27,000.
A report laughingly headed: “Investing in better neighbourhoods and building the homes we need to house the people of Lambeth – Cressingham gardens estate” considered by Lambeth council’s cabinet last Monday admits that:
- The refurbishment of council homes in the borough will cost £16,000 each (page two, finance summary)
- The amount needed to bring council homes up to the ‘Lambeth Housing Standard’ has rocketed from an estimated £56 million in 2012 to over £85 million. (page one, report summary).
But elsewhere says it was an estimated £499 million across circa 31,000 properties and an average of £16,000 to refurbish.(1:19 page seven)
- Actual costs of refurbishment have exceeded original estimates (1.20 page seven)
- Roofs on many (number not stated) properties at Cressingham “causing severe damp” (1.22 page seven)
- Further funding would be needed for any additional land acquisitions and buyback costs (page three, paragraph above recommendations) – which comes on top of £5 million PER ANNUM approved by cabinet in April 2014 to “support the provision of affordable housing including a budget to commence property buybacks and site assembly costs.” (3.13 page 21)
- Experience elsewhere on the Lambeth Housing Standard programme “have significantly exceeded initial estimates” (1.20 page 7)
- That when the council have commenced refurbishment on estates in the borough it has discovered there tend to be far more properties requiring Lambeth housing standards works than originally predicted; andthe scope of the works has tended to be more than expected. (both 1.8 on page 5)
- “Properties that would be owned by the SPV (special purpose vehicle) would cease to be accounted for within the HRA (housing revenue account) so as to free these properties from the above-mentioned budgetary constraints.
- “The SPV would be able to raise private sector funds outside of the HRA for schemes that had a sound business case.” (3.3 PAGE 19)
(Note: You might not consider this fair. The headline is journalistic licence, admittedly. And it’s a damn sight fairer than the way you’ve been behaving). Everything else in the above story comes from your own cabinet report.
The above at 1.8 begs the question that, if not every home needs refurbishment, how many actually do?
There’s also one other major consideration that doesn’t seem to have entered into any of the equations:
If you hive off Cressingham, Central Hill and a raft of other estates into the SPV, the amount you are receiving in council rents into the housing revenue account will DECREASE substantially.
So where will the money to repair the remaining council estates come from?
At Cressingham Gardens you want to extend the existing estate to cover Park View Court and some other private homes in the Tulse Hill / Trinity Rise area. As News From Crystal Palace understands it, you cannot insure your homes against the possibility of a council CPO (compulsory purchase order).
Flats in Park View Court cost around £450,000. Their properties are, because of your proposals, almost certainly unsellable. If you CPO their homes you will leave people living their homeless – to add to the council housing waiting list – and probably financially destitute as well.
You and your officers seem to dreaming up ever-more bizarre reasons to keep both you – and your officers – in a job.
Yoiu keep on blaming the Government for the cuts. The problem is that for the last two decades – and probably longer – when there’s been a Conservative government in power they give more money to Conservative-controlled councils and when there’s been a Labour-controlled government in power they give more money to Labour-controlled councils.
Under a previous Labour government NFCP seems to recall a story about the leader of a Conservative-controlled south London borough going to see the relevant minister to ask for more money. The minister’s opening comment? “I don’t know why you’ve bothered coming.”
This nonsense has to stop. There needs to be a level playing field. But because both Conservative and Labour governments have played the same game no-one’s saying anything.
(The same applies to PFI’s – public finance initiatives – supported by both main parties. Because both parties have indulged in these, MPs don’t appear to be raising the shortcomings of PFI in Parliament or in its select committees and their long-term effects on national and council purses. They should be. Please look it up on Wikipedia under ‘public finance initiative’).
We’ve seen in both Labour-controlled and Conservative-controlled councils that, just because they’ve been elected and have a majority, they have a divine right to do what they like. They don’t.
What they do have is the right to LISTEN TO and REPRESENT the people who voted for them in the ward they were elected to, to make honest and fair judgments on matters before them and then vote accordingly – and not on the orders of the party apparatchik.