Lambeth council have scrapped their tenants and leaseholders councils replacing them with a “Residents Assembly” where LAMBETH decide who represents tenants and leaseholders on new area boards.
A meeting held in Clapham on September 30th was touted by Lambeth as “the first residents assembly” – but it comprised an attempt by Lambeth council to tell residents what they should think, says the chairman of the newly-formed Lambeth Homeowners Association.
“Residents told Lambeth council firmly they wanted to express their opinions” says Mr Shemi Leira.
“They were the same opinions as under the previous resident engagement system. “That Lambeth council doesn’t listen. “It is inefficient. “It overcharges for poor, shoddy work. “And it doesn’t respond properly to questions, challenges and feedback.”
And Lambeth council gets to decide who sits on the area boards, says Mr Leira.
“TRAs (Tenant Resident Associations) were given a few days to elect or select (it wasn’t clear) who they nominate (no guidance on what form that should take or what the commitment would be).
“Those selected by Lambeth council from the nominations were invited late on the afternoon of Friday 20th October. “Nothing new here either: same old Lambeth council pre-selection of who is invited.”
“More worryingly, at least one elected representative was told that they could not be a member of the Board because they had a bill outstanding.
“It is a bill for a service charge that has been outstanding only due to the fact that Lambeth council will not engage with the person to provide evidence of what the money was spent on.
“No pay, no representation is, apparently the mantra from the inaptly-named Democratic Services.
“When asked where this policy of barring an elected representative from standing is enshrined in the Lambeth constitution or elsewhere, the official simply said it is ‘standard practice’,”.
Lambeth Homeowners Association is run by leaseholders for the benefit of leaseholders and other homeowners who pay service charges to Lambeth council. LHA say they formed in September 2017 “when Lambeth council decided, against the wishes of residents, to remove the area forums and leasehold council structures that provided collective representation.
“The democratically elected leasehold council executive continued to operate and drew up a constitution to become an association.” LHA say that if you wish to join Lambeth Homeowners Association you can email email@example.com
CHAIRMAN’S LETTER TO CABINET MEMBER FOR HOUSING: “SIT DOWN WITH US”
In an open letter to Lambeth council’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, Mr Leira said it appeared evident that, although Lambeth had called the meeting as a Residents Assembly (under the new structure), this was highly questionable if not an obvious mischaracterisation.
“It was only after persistent questions from a resident that Cllr Brathwaite “acknowledged that leasehold council and tenants council had been suspended.”
“Lambeth council said there was no intention of taking questions at all during the day’s proceedings before finally saying questions would be allowed – but only after four speakers from Lambeth had spoken.
“We then listened to four speeches which arguably were not what a first ‘Residents Assembly’ should be about.
“The meeting was then told about the working of the area boards and how their membership would be made up.
“In the course of this and in response to questions, it was evident that there were no terms of reference for the area boards therefore, making it difficult to know the basis upon which elections might have been held.
“Lambeth Homeowners’ Association, do not accept that the ‘new’ structure is valid and legal (not having been put in place as required by the Lambeth constitution).
“Individuals who are members of our association may well put themselves forward as TRA representatives to Area Boards.
“We expect that they will do so under protest as to the legality of the structure but in the best interests of helping those they represent as best they can.
“But before we get to issues such as appointments and elections, it is requested that, in the spirit of cooperation, that Lambeth council states that it values, we sit down with you and discuss the predicament that Lambeth has visited upon residents and tentatively explore any possible solutions.”