The next People’s Audit is coming up later this year – and campaigner Gerlinde Gniewosz hopes it will be third time lucky and “I might get the data I’ve been requesting for the past three years.
“The more bits of information we can piece together the more we can see what’s happening.”
Her comments came towards the end of the meeting. She had begun earlier by telling people: “My first career was in investment banking – so numbers speak to me.
“For me this all kicked off in 2012. “I went to a little exhibition about the upkeep of this estate. “I turned up and we were told in big posters we don’t have enough money for kitchens and bathrooms. “We have to demolish everyone’s home.
“I’m looking at the figures and saying ‘the numbers don’t add up – the roofs must be gold plated’.
“We questioned it and questioned it and after a few months we got data back and it still wasn’t making any sense. “We started doing research through council reports. “We found the council doing decent homes work but it was very delayed. “Lambeth were very, very late in doing this and they’re now doing it.
“They estimated they would have to spend just over £490 million to do this but only had funding for £450 million so they had to look at regeneration. “They had to demolish people’s homes in order to bring them new kitchens and bathrooms.
“Today the decent homes work is now up to £580 million EXCLUDING the six estates they want to demolish.
“As you start to investigate with FOI (Freedom of Information) requests the world is getting weirder, weirder and weirder and we start pushing. “We have learned how to deal with FOI requests. “The residents have taken the council to the high court with judicial reviews.
“One of the misnomers is that we’ve got austerity, not cuts.
“The way the council’s finances are set up the housing revenue account is ring-fenced (guarantee that funds allocated for a particular purpose will not be spent on anything else) so all the amounts coming in from tenants, from service charges, from leaseholders so Lambeth can’t go and spend it on the new town hall (which they have).
“The housing revenue account’s not been cut by central Government. “The only thing that’s been cut – by one per cent – by central Government is council rents.” (One per cent per year for four years from 2015 – Ed).
“Jobs have not been done but we’ve been billed for them. “Between 20 and 25 per cent of these are either duplicates, never happened or are poor quality work – but the council are paying the money out. “Major works are badly managed, badly overscoped.”
Estate regeneration: “The council are setting up a set of subsidiary companies (Homes for Lambeth) and borrowing £300 million to loan out to its subsidiaries. “It’s all money at risk to do this demolition and rebuild.
“It’s a high risk factor and YOUR money is going into it. . “If it’s anything like the business plan for Cressingham Gardens it will pay off after 60 years – if you’re lucky. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. “We’ve been querying this for four to five years.”
(Note: The six estates Lambeth want to demolish are: Central Hill, Cressingham., Fenwick, Knights Walk, South Lambeth and Westbury.)