COUNCIL TO DEBATE BALLOTS ON ESTATE DEMOLITIONS

People living on three housing estates in Lambeth MUST be balloted over the council’s highly controversial plans to demolish them.

A motion calling for the ballots is set to be debated at Lambeth council’s next full meeting on Wednesday July 18th.

The motion follows the revelations that Lambeth council had done secret deals with the Mayor of London in September and December last year over the demolition of five of the estates (excluding Central Hill) – and said nothing about them.

Cross-party support for its motion is being sought by the Green party which, if passed, would lead to ballots on Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace, Fenwick estate in Clapham and the Cressingham Gardens estate at Tulse Hill.

The three estates are among six earmarked for demolition and replacement by a mixture of privately owned housing and more expensive ‘homes at social rent’ [1]* as part of Labour-led Lambeth council’s 2012 and 2014 strategies for bringing its housing up to decent standards and increasing the overall supply of housing in the borough.

Since then, concern over the impact of demolition on residents and their neighbours has spread and figures for the number of promised social rent homes to be built have changed several times, leading to mistrust of consultation processes.

Dispute over the initial consultation on Cressingham Gardens reached the High Court, which ruled it ‘unlawful’ [2].

In February the Mayor of London set out guidelines for estate regeneration, making mandatory ballots of residents a condition of City Hall funding [3].

The Green Party motion notes the mayor’s requirement on ballots, and support elsewhere in the Labour party, including the September 2017 Labour party conference [4], November 2018 London Labour party conference [5] and from the local Vauxhall constituency Labour party [6], which all passed motions in support of estate ballots within the last year.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also gave his support to ballots in a speech at the September 2017 Labour conference. [7]

Cllr Pete Elliott (Green, Gipsy Hill ward) said: “We know that many people of all parties are uneasy at the prospect of regeneration being forced on communities without their full participation and agreement. “In Lambeth, a flawed process has led to trust being lost.

“People’s homes, security, and health is at stake – and I’m sure my fellow councillors agree their wellbeing should be treated with the utmost care and respect.

“Independently-run ballots, with equal resourcing and fact-checking for all sides would go a long way to providing the transparency required to restore confidence and allowing Lambeth council to develop proper plans to increase the availability of genuinely affordable housing without dividing communities and fuelling conflict.”

Asked why the three other estates which Lambeth council want to demolish – Knights Walk, South Lambeth and Westbury – have not been included in the motion a Green party spokeswoman told News From Crystal Palace:

“The Green party wants ballots for all residents of all six estates in Lambeth but the three mentioned in the motion are not as far down the regeneration process as the other three.

“So we hope there is more time realistically to persuade Labour councillors to think again about the validity of balloting residents.

“In the case of Central Hill, this is particularly so as it has not got City Hall funding – and won’t be able to do so without a ballot. “So holding a ballot for Central Hill could win extra funding – if residents vote yes.”

UPDATE: Gipsy Hill – Green Party are asking people to sign a petition urging Lambeth council to give communities on council estates facing demolition a vote on their futures. The petition will be handed in to council at next Wednesday’s meeting where the motion on ballots will be voted on by councillors.

Petition link: https://chn.ge/2J0woNF

Further reading: ESTATE DEMOLITIONS: MAYOR KHAN WRIGGLES ON SIAN BERRY’S HOOK – May 24th 2018

ESTATE BALLOTS SCANDAL: KHAN DID SECRET DEALS WITH LAMBETH LABOUR  TO FUND DEMOLITION OF FIVE ESTATES – REVELATIONS ONLY MADE PUBLIC AFTER EMPTY ‘VOTES’ PLEDGE – March 26th 2018

“BALLOT RESIDENTS ON ESTATE DEMOLITION” GLA MEMBERS TELL SADIQ KHAN IN UNANIMOUS VOTE – Move could save Central Hill and five other estates in Lambeth – January 3rd 2018

(Numbers refer to notes in the Green party press release on the subject – Ed.)
Green party press release notes
[1] Council tenants returning to new homes on regenerated estates will lose their secure tenancies. (Lambeth Council’s key guarantees: https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/documents/s80089/Appendix%20K%20-%20Key%20Guarantees.pdf). Due to the increased value of new-build properties, council tenants will face ‘social rents’ that could be 25% more expensive than current council rents. Leasehold homeowners on Cressingham Gardens estimate they will need to find at least £200,000 if they want to remain ‘homeowners’ rather than become shared ownership tenants or private renters; it is estimated market rents on a rebuilt Cressingham Gardens could be as high as £3,000 per month for a 4-bed flat. [2] Cressingham consultation at High Court: http://www.brixtonblog.com/cressingham-decision-unlawful-judge-rules/34255 [3] Mayor’s guidelines on estate regeneration https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/ground-breaking-plans-for-estate-regen-ballots-0 [4] Labour Party conference motion: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/labours-housing-policies-under-the-spotlight-52681 [5] London Labour Party Regional Conference: https://wembleymatters.blogspot.com/2017/11/london-labour-adopts-radical.html [6] Vauxhall Labour Party motion: http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2018/01/vauxhall-labour-party-calls-on-lambeth-council-to-ballot- residents-ahead-of-estate-regeneration-plans/ [7] Jeremy Corbyn speech to Labour Party Conference Sept 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/27/jeremy-corbyn-labour- councils-housing

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