LAMBETHWATCH

LAMBETHWATCH – COUNCIL QUESTIONS / RESIDENTS GIVE TWO COUNCILLORS RED CARDS / GREENWICH LEISURE TO RUN BROMLEY LIBRARIES? / DONNA WIGGINS / ANOTHER £10 MILLION FOR LAMBETH /   LAMBETH’S VERSION OF LAST WEEK’S CABINET MEETING ON CENTRAL HILL…..

One of the odder practices at full meetings of Lambeth council is that Labour councillors can ask questions of the opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs.

These usually involve matters relating to Conservative Government policy, some of which have no bearing on local matters and are usually just political point-scoring.

Perhaps Cllr Briggs might consider giving replies on the lines of: “We on the opposition side are wondering why the councillor is asking questions on this issue when they should be really be asking questions on such local  issues as:

1. Why, at one point, was the decision on who got what floor space on the ground floor of the library at Carnegie being left to he cabinet member for neighbourhoods?

2. Why has the councillor – and their Labour colleagues – not asked why repairs to Central HIll, Cressingham Gardens, Fenwick, Knights Walk, South Lambeth and Westbury estates which they have voted to demolish were not carried out much earlier – when a Labour government was running the country?

3. Why, as rumour has it, was furniture from the Upper Norwood library just dumped in the library car park there rather than used elsewhere given that Lambeth supposedly has no money to spend on certain items?

4. Why did Lambeth put £100 million into banks and building societies – in the financial year ending March 31st 2015 – monies that were not owed -and again in the financial year ending March 31st 2016 and then claim they had no money to spend on libraries and repairing those estates because of Government cutbacks?

5. Why have Lambeth failed to respond to an article in Private Eye magazine in late January (“Stephensons Rocket, page 37)  which states that some documents relating to Shirley Oaks were destroyed as recently as 2009?

6. Why do the Labour group on Lambeth council consistently claim that £100 million has been knocked off their housing budget when this sum was actually a one-off payment given by central government to Lambeth for new kitchens and bathrooms as Decent Homes Funding and the largest grant of money given to ANY local authority in the UK to upgrade council properties.?

7. Why do the Labour group on Lambeth council continue to say that the Resident’s Survey indicated overall satisfaction in the council’s delivery of services when what the report actually said: Very satisfied 14 pc; Fairly satisfied 58 pc; Fairly dissatisfied 11pc; Very dissatisfied six pc.

8. Shouldn’t the Labour group be more concerned with these issues?

RESIDENTS GIVE TWO COUNCILLORS RED CARDS

News From Crystal Palace hears that residents living on one of the estates Lambeth council want to demolish kicked two of their ward councillors out of a community meeting they hadn’t even been invited to in the first place.

The councillors were asked to leave after one of them tried to take over the meeting, which was between residents and the housing services dept over repairs.

“One resident got up and walked out” we are told. “The rest got very angry and asked her to leave. “It was offensive them being there and throwing their weight around. “After about 20 minutes they left without taking any part in the meeting.”

Ah, Democracy……

GREENWICH LEISURE TO RUN BROMLEY LIBRARIES?

Over in Bromley the Unite union say the only bidder left to run the borough’s libraries is Greenwich Leisure.

An article in the Bromley Times quotes Cllr Peter Morgan, executive member for renewal and recreation who has said getting a new operator for the libraries aims to protect them.

“We cannot discuss the details of the tenders as this is confidential but it is important to note that tenderers were asked to tender on the basis of the existing library service.”……..

If Greenwich Leisure think they can run gyms in Bromley libraries then they can forget it. Bromley residents won’t stand for it – and Bromley council could find themselves facing the biggest uproar since they announced plans to turn some schools ‘super-selective’ back in the early 1980s……

Further reading: Bromley Labour leader Angela Wilkins defends Unite’s campaign to stop the privatisation of Bromley’s libraries by Emily King Bromley Times 13 March 2017 16:45

DONNA WIGGINS

Our recent story LAMBETH COUNCIL AGREED £7 MILLION FEE REDUCTION WITH GREENWICH LEISURE OVER CONTROVERSIAL LIBRARIES PLANS – Sponsorship of Black Cultural Archives was contingent upon deal – included emails between council officer Donna Wiggins and Greenwich Leisure’s Dave Behagg.

We hadn’t realised at the time that Donna Wiggins had featured in a previous item. LIBRARY: OPINION – “THE BIGGEST LOAD OF COUNCIL TRIPE I HAVE EVER, EVER READ”
This related to an opinion piece on part of Lambeth council’s Culture 2020 document. It included the following comment:

“The report – written by Donna Wiggins who is described as “lead commissioner Healthier for Longer” – says…. the average walking time between Upper Norwood and West Norwood is 38 minutes. If this is coming back from West Norwood, Donna clearly hasn’t walked up Central Hill.”

ANOTHER £10 MILLION FOR LAMBETH…..
 
From the London SE1 website Sunday 12 March 2017:

Plans to build 25-storey twin towers with dozens of new homes on the site of the Texaco garage on Albert Embankment have been approved unanimously by members of Lambeth’s planning applications committee.

The 166-home scheme includes nine ‘affordable rent’ homes and 39 shared ownership homes, with the balance of the developer’s affordable housing contribution to be provided by an in-lieu payment to Lambeth council of nearly £10 million.

(Meanwhile the housing waiting list…..Ed.)

AND ANOTHER £40,000 FOR CRAIG TUNSTALL….

The recent Lambeth council budget report showed how much Lambeth council’s fat cats were getting in the financial year ended March 31st 2016 – the same as the previous year.

Meanwhile the salary given to Craig Tunstall  of the Federation of Kingswood & Elmwood Primary Schools and Children’s Centres went up from 279,922 to £ 330,394.

Tunstall is not a council employee. A note to the report explains: “Craig Tunstall is included, despite being a school employee, due to the nature of schools that are not academies or free schools falling within the Group Boundaries of local government. These group boundaries are defined by regulation and interpreted by Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA).”

AND FINALLY……

The Lambeth version of last Thursday’s council cabinet meeting. No mention of dissent. No mention of disagreement:

Central Hill redevelopment approved

24 March, 2017

Written by: Communications team

Lambeth Council’s Cabinet has approved a recommendation to rebuild the Central Hill estate.

The decision, taken following extensive discussions at a meeting on Thursday (23 March), means that all homes on the estate will be replaced with better homes, built to modern standards. There will also be more affordable homes built on the estate, and specifically more homes let at council level rents.

The development will be led by the council, through Homes for Lambeth, and not by an external private developer.

A report to the Cabinet meeting said rebuilding Central Hill was “the only practical way to improve living conditions for people living on the estate”. It added: “Many families on the Central Hill estate are living in very poor-quality homes, many facing problems with damp, mould, cold bridging and noise transference, while the design of the overall estate creates serious accessibility problems for older and mobility-disabled residents.”

A formal consultation exercise carried out last Autumn (available here from pg. 229-257) showed that 55% of council tenants at Central Hill supported the proposal to completely rebuild the estate. A majority of homeowners and private tenants opposed the proposal.

Rebuilding would see all the 460 properties on the estate replaced. All 320 existing council properties would be replaced with good-quality new homes at council-level rents, with a lifetime tenancy – meaning there would be no loss of social housing. Resident leaseholders would be offered affordable options to stay on the estate.

In addition, the proposal would include a further 500 to 750 new homes on Central Hill – with as many as possible affordable and at council-level rent.

Following the cabinet decision to rebuild the estate, detailed planning work – including choosing a Development Management Team – will now be carried out. No building work will start until some time in 2019/20 at the earliest.

Lambeth is investing hundreds of millions of pounds in bringing existing council homes up to the Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS); however, the budget shortfall in the LHS Programme has grown from an estimated £56m in 2012, to the latest estimate of over £85m. The costs of refurbishing Central Hill would be substantially more than the average cost of other estates across the borough, and refurbishment would not address the fundamental design issues of the estate.

Having looked at all options, the council consulted with residents last autumn. Two-thirds of households participated in the consultation and the proposal to rebuild the estate was backed by 55% of council tenants. Across all residents, the proposal was backed by 49% in favour to 38% against with leaseholders against the proposal by 51% to 31% in favour.

Resident homeowners and Lambeth tenants on the estate will be protected by newly-improved Key Guarantees, which were also agreed at the cabinet meeting. These guarantees mean that:

Every council tenant will be able to move to a brand-new home at council level rent on Central Hill with a new Assured Lifetime Tenancy
No council tenant will be made homeless because of the rebuilding
The new homes will be built to meet current council tenants’ needs
Affordable options will be provided to assist resident homeowners to stay on the estate

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