CENTRAL HILL: NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT "£40 MILLION REPAIRS NEEDED ON CENTRAL HILL" CLAIM

CENTRAL HILL: NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT “£40 MILLION REPAIRS NEEDED ON CENTRAL HILL” CLAIM – “You have milked these people for years” says Cllr Ainslie

A council tenants leader and Lambeth’s Conservative opposition leader found themselves on the SAME SIDE at Lambeth council’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting this week – with BOTH asking for a proper survey of the estate and BOTH asking where repairs estimates of between £18.5 million and £40 million had come from.

Nicola Curtis, who chairs the Central Hill estate tenants and residents association, told the committee meeting in Vauxhall: “We asked time and time again for you to provide evidence of the cost of refurbishment. “Where’s the evidence? “It’s still not there. “You say £18.5 million is still too expensive to pay for refurbishment. “We never agreed that at REP (resident engagement panel) but according to this (report to committee) we did.

“We give you £2.5 million in rents and survey charges a year. “We’d like some of that money back spent on our estate.” Later she told the committee: “All we want is a proper survey.”

Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs who had ‘called in’ the cabinet decision to demolish Central Hill estate agreed, telling the meeting: “Let them do the survey again. “The research results must create some subjective concerns. “I don’t see how a decision can be rushed through.

“Cllr Simpson seems to be saying that as long as the minimum legal requirement has been done that’s OK. “I think that says more about Cllr Simpson’s approach to these matters.” (Please see Central Hill View from the Gallery – Ed.)

“No evidence has been provided to support the figure of £40 million for repairs. “How can you make a decision when you do not have the evidence.? “It has not been provided. “Officers had the opportunity to provide the evidence. “This has got to go back.

“They spend £7 million on consultants but can’t decide how to support the cost of refurbishment of the estate.”

New evidence – the results of the residents own survey which showed 73 per cent of people who responded did not want the estate demolished –  had not been considered, he added.

“The council’s own survey had not said: ‘Your house is going to be knocked down – how do you feel about that?.’ “We didn’t consult on whether the estate should be refurbished.

“Lambeth council hasn’t considered how to support the cost of refurbishment so what are the options? ‘We haven’t done that because we’re not really interested in that’

Nicola Curtis told the meeting: “Your regeneration will take 10 to 15 years and people are still going to be in their homes. “You haven’t justified the cost of refurbishment. “Our community deserves to stay together. “25 per cent of our residents are elderly. “When they are moved from  this estate they will most likely die. ”

Fellow Central Hill resident  Pete Elliott told the committee: “By the time demolition and rebuilding has been completed people will have put up with around 20 years of disruption to their lives.”

If 1,000 extra households are going to be put into a space currently occupied by the Central Hill community extra provision for schools, parking, transport  etc would need to be considered.

“It hasn’t been done. “The council are not considering the human cost of this process.”

Lambeth’s Green party Cllr Scott Ainslie called on the committee to pause, reflect – and send the ‘call in’ back to cabinet

“Think on the mental and physical impact as you ride roughshod over their communities. “There’s a greater proportion of long-term unemployed and retired people living on this estate, people who have lived there since it was built.

“Consider the impact you are having on their mental health and daily lives. “You have milked these people for years. “£2.5 million every year – but little has gone back in terms of repairs. “The least you can do is afford these people a decent and meaningful consultation. “Rip it up and start again.”( Applause).

Former cabinet member for housing Cllr Matthew Bennett said the £40m million figure came from work carried out by Jim Martin of Martin Arnold, an independent expert appointed by the tenants and leaseholders council.

Former cabinet member Cllr Jack Holborn challenged the questions in the residents survey. “That’s pushing people to accept a particular answer – would you accept that?” he asked.

Responding from the floor, Karen Bennett, secretary of Central Hill estate tenants and residents association, replied: “No. “Because they have brains and minds of their own. “It’s a further option the council should have provided.

“What the council consulted on was demolition only. “Originally we had refurbishment; part refurbishment and part demolition; and just demolition. “Over the course of a period of time the first two options were removed.”

The committee decided not to refer the matter back to cabinet “but make such recommendations to cabinet as they see fit.” One Labour councillor had asked how the £18 million repair bill was arrived at. It remains to be seen if this is included in the final recommendations when published.

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