There is no resident engagement in Lambeth that holds Labour councillors to account, Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs told Lambeth council’s meeting on Wednesday evening.
The new arrangements of resident engagement in Lambeth have been criticised by leasehold representatives, tenant representatives and Conservative councillors and activists as a complete failure, he said.
Conservative plans which copy some of the most effective resident engagement structures used by other local authorities were not even included in the papers for consideration by cabinet.
Repeating his previous assertion that “the worst rogue landlord in Lambeth is the Labour council” Cllr Briggs asked:
“Can Labour councillors confirm how long they will continue with the new resident engagement model before they accept it is not fit for purpose, and how much poor management, waste and fraud in housing it will take for them to start speaking properly to residents’ representatives again? ”
Responding, Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, Lambeth’s cabinet member for housing and environment, said there was a growing consensus that the previous resident engagement structures were not working and needed streamlining.
“All residents were consulted in April 2016 and a majority of the 1,238 respondents supported the cabinet proposals to improve the way we engage.
“Extensive work then took place over the next twelve months with resident representatives from both tenants and leasehold Councils.
Unfortunately, despite lengthy discussions, agreement on a final structure could not be reached.
“Cabinet therefore agreed to pilot the new Area Boards and Assemblies for twelve months.
“In doing so it took on board the council’s overview and scrutiny committee’s Housing Commission recommendations, particularly the need to make engagement far more flexible and inclusive, hence the Lambeth 500+ initiative to allow any resident to be involved in service areas in which they are interested.
“The new area boards have been specifically designed to hold the council and its contractors to account and, for the first time, to actively involve residents in reviewing services.
“Its members are tenants and leaseholders who have been nominated from the local TRA (tenants and residents associations) as well as members of Lambeth 500 to ensure the broadest representation from council tenants and leaseholders” she claimed.
“Performance data for housing services, which is published monthly, clearly demonstrates improving satisfaction from residents across a range of key service areas.
“Advice from internal audit and referrals to legal services do not indicate there has been any increase in tenancy related fraud and internal audit report that there is no evidence of any increase in housing fraud.”