LEASEHOLDERS CHAIRMAN QUITS AMID “COUNCIL BULLYING” CLAIMS – Green party councilor says siege mentality exists in Lambeth
The chairman of Lambeth Leasehold Council has quit his post accusing named Labour councilors – and one officer – of “bullying” and “trashing” his efforts.
Stephen Gyte’s resignation comes as Lambeth’s only Green party councilor, Scott Ainslie, has accused the council of developing a “siege mentality.” (please see separate story – Ed.)
The Leasehold Council are the recognised representative voice of Lambeth leaseholders and a consultative body on issues of borough-wide concern to service charge payers. There are six area leasehold forums (for North Lambeth, Stockwell and Vassal, Clapham, Norwood, Brixton, and Streatham) which are the main consultative bodies for leaseholders.
But in his letter of resignation Mr Gyte says the area leasehold forums no longer exist, stating: “Bullying is being used by Lambeth officers and councillors to force through changes to Resident Engagement which lacks thorough consultation and input of ideas.
“I and all of the resident representatives in Lambeth (tenants and leaseholders) are being bullied to accept a set of changes to resident engagement that we collectively do not believe act in the interest of service users and residents.”
Resident Engagement Panels were set up by Lambeth council as part of their controversial ‘Homes for Lambeth’ scheme with one panel for each of the selected six estates they want to demolish – Central Hill; Cressingham Gardens; Fenwick; Knights Walk; South Lambeth and Westbury.
Mr Gyte is calling for a full investigation of the three individuals named in his letter to be carried out.
“Officers have intentionally mislead tenants when leaseholders have not been present.
“Officers and councillors have purposefully failed to engage with leaseholders since the Leasehold Council motion, specifically failing to acknowledge or respond to the recommendation to set up a joint task and finish group.
“They have unilaterally withdrawn the Area Leasehold Forums at a time when we need to consult with leasehold residents about service charge statements and resident engagement.
“With immediate effect it is my intention to step down from the role as chairman of Leasehold Council, and to stand down as Chairman of North Lambeth’s now non-existent Area Leasehold Forum.
“There is no forum to chair and (the male officer) has unilaterally removed access to our residents through the Forum.
“These actions by Lambeth prevent me and all representatives from acting on behalf of the leaseholder community.
“The male officer and the councillors are clearly supportive of this superior strength approach (otherwise called bullying).
“They have demonstrated they are not interested in our input, otherwise we would have met to discuss resident engagement over the course of the last three months.
“In a co-operative council you might reasonably expect the council to come and say ‘we want to review resident engagement, we have come concerns that it isn’t working well, we need to better manage our resources, would you like to work with us to look at the arrangements?’.
“These three individuals have been clear in telling us what is going to be delivered, that we rejected the proposals and that they would talk to other leaseholders rather than offer a way to engage and put forward resident-based proposals.
“They have not met with any other leaseholders. “In fact they have done very little to engage with leaseholders throughout the process.
“Public Service is about providing a service, based on residents’ needs, wants and aspirations, within the limits that are put in place by society. “There is no place for bullying in Public Life. “There should be no place for bullying in Lambeth.”
Mr Gyte also says a female officer, Alison McKane, “has accepted the concerns that the Lambeth council cabinet report on resident engagement in 2015 was not subject to appropriate consultation (as set out in the council constitution) before being taken to cabinet.
“This is an acknowledgement after numerous claims that there had been widespread consultation from (the two councilllors and male officer).”
News From Crystal Palace e-mailed Lambeth council’s press office, the male councilor and the female councilor for their responses.
The female councilor responded, referring us to the press office. If we – ever – get a reply from the press office or from the male councillor, News From Crystal Palace will let you know.