LABOUR’S “FAIRER” LAMBETH: KNICKERS TO ESTATE BALLOTS (UNLESS IT’S UNDER A LABOUR GOVERNMENT!!!!!!)

Lambeth’s Labour councillors are refusing to allow ballots on estates threatened by their own demolition plans – despite promising a ‘fairer’ Lambeth in their election manifestoes.

A Green party motion calling for the ballots and set to be discussed by the council next Wednesday has been emasculated by a mass of Labour amendments  which includes deleting all of the following:

Council therefore resolves to ballot all the residents of the Central Hill Estate, Cressingham Gardens Estate and the Fenwick Estate based on the principles on (i) and (ii) above and notes that along with giving some control over their future back to the residents of those estates, if the residents on Central Hill voted for demolition then this would give the council access to additional funds from the Mayor of London.

Labour have also entirely DELETED other parts of the Green party motion which read:

  • a subsequent council report authorised by Sue Foster, strategic director, neighbourhoods and growth to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on 3rd May 2017 stated clearly “The consultation was not a ballot.”. Council also notes that the 55 per cent figure was strongly disputed by residents and was not backed up by evidence from the council, which created a huge amount of distrust amongst residents.
     
  • (iii) Not only must the consequences of the ballot result be fully understood by all concerned, but the process needs to be – and be seen to be – independent of all those involved in the regeneration project, all parties must have an equality of campaigning and financial resources, the questions need to be clear and agreed by all parties, and the outcome of the ballot must be transparent and accountable.

Another part of the motion which reads: It was stated at Lambeth council’s cabinet meeting on 23 March 2017 that 55 per cent of council tenants on Central Hill appeared to support the proposal to completely rebuild their estate, has been amended to read ‘did’ instead of ‘appeared to’.

Labour have ADDED the following:

(v) That this council supports the policy set out by the leader of the Labour party, which is why Lambeth’s estate regeneration schemes are being undertaken by a 100 per cent council-owned company not private developers and why we have guaranteed no net loss of social housing, full rights to remain for all council tenants and a fair deal for leaseholders and freeholders. Labour party policy on ballots applies to all future schemes under a Labour government, when councils would have the funding, flexibility and powers to build and refurbish social housing that is denied to them by this Conservative government.
 
Council further notes that
 
(i) Lambeth has been engaging with residents on six estates since 2014, holding extensive consultation and engagement on how to deliver better homes where refurbishment is unaffordable.
 
That the council’s response to the Mayor’s consultation supported the use of independent bodies throughout the consultation process, not just for ballots, as Lambeth council has done on each of the six estates currently going through this process.

Council resolves to continue to place residents at the heart of the decision-making process, by working with the Mayor of London on his estate regeneration principles and fully implementing his recommendations when published.

MAIN GREEN PARTY MOTION reads as follows:

Motion 1: Green

To ballot residents on, the Cressingham Gardens Estate, the Fenwick Estate and the Central Hill Estate

Council notes that:

(i) The Mayor of London’s report ‘Better Homes for Local People’ which was published in February 2018 and contained guidelines for balloting all residents in housing where demolition is planned. According to the Mayor’s office “the guide seeks to empower tenants, leaseholders and freeholders in developing regeneration plans” and “forms a key part of the Mayor’s broader calls for social housing residents to have a bigger say in the future of their estates following last year’s horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.”

(ii) Labour’s national and London conferences supported balloting residents on all ongoing and future regeneration projects and that the agreed 2017 Conference motion stated that such ballots should be binding and “follow a comprehensive programme which fully involves residents and their representatives in understanding the economic, social and environmental consequences of any proposals”.

(iii) Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party passed a motion in January 2018 calling for the Lambeth Labour election manifesto to ballot residents living on estates that are due to be ‘regenerated’.

(iv) Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for estates to be balloted in his 2017 Party conference speech saying “After Grenfell we must think again about what are called regeneration schemes. Regeneration is a much-abused word. Too often what it really means is forced gentrification and social cleansing, as private developers move in and tenants and leaseholders are moved out” and so under a Labour Government “councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.”

Council further notes that

(i) It was stated at Lambeth Council’s Cabinet meeting on 23 March 2017 that 55% of council tenants on Central Hill appeared to support the proposal to completely rebuild their estate. However, a subsequent council report authorised by Sue Foster, Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 3rd May 2017 stated clearly “The consultation was not a ballot.”. Council also notes that the 55% figure was strongly disputed by residents and was not backed up by evidence from the council, which created a huge amount of distrust amongst residents.

(ii) Proper consultation and balloting residents is complicated and should therefore be undertaken carefully. There are a multiplicity of tenures on estates – council (including temporary) and private tenants, leaseholders (both resident and absentee landlords including agencies and companies)) – whose interests may vary; and that this must be properly recognised by not allowing the interests of one group to override another’s.

(iii) Not only must the consequences of the ballot result be fully understood by all concerned, but the process needs to be – and be seen to be – independent of all those involved in the regeneration project, all parties must have an equality of campaigning and financial resources, the questions need to be clear and agreed by all parties, and the outcome of the ballot must be transparent and accountable.

Council therefore resolves to ballot all the residents of the Central Hill Estate, Cressingham Gardens Estate and the Fenwick Estate based on the principles on (i) and (ii) above and notes that along with giving some control over their future back to the residents of those estates, if the residents on Central Hill voted for demolition then this would give the council access to additional funds from the Mayor of London.

LABOUR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1: Labour

To ballot residents on, the Cressingham Gardens Estate, the Fenwick Estate and the Central Hill Estate

Council notes that:

ADDITION: Lambeth is committed to placing residents at the heart of the decision-making process, as part of our plans to build more and better homes to help tackle the housing crisis. That includes providing new homes for residents currently living in poor-quality homes on some of our estates that we cannot afford to refurbish and providing additional council homes for families on the waiting list. END ADDITION

The Mayor of London’s report ‘Better Homes for Local People’ which was published in February 2018 and contained guidelines for balloting all residents in housing where demolition is planned, ADDITION subject to further consultation which closed in April 2018. END ADDITION According to the Mayor’s office “the guide seeks to empower tenants, leaseholders and freeholders in developing regeneration plans” and “forms a key part of the Mayor’s broader calls for social housing residents to have a bigger say in the future of their estates following last year’s horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.”

(ii) Labour’s national and London conferences supported balloting residents on all ongoing and future regeneration projects and that the agreed 2017 Conference motion stated that such ballots should be binding and “follow a comprehensive programme which fully involves residents and their representatives in understanding the economic, social and environmental consequences of any proposals”.

(iii) Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party passed a motion in January 2018 calling for the Lambeth Labour election manifesto to ballot residents living on estates that are due to be ‘regenerated’.

(iv) Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for estates to be balloted in his 2017 Party conference speech saying “After Grenfell we must think again about what are called regeneration schemes. Regeneration is a much-abused word. Too often what it really means is forced gentrification and social cleansing, as private developers move in and tenants and leaseholders are moved out” and so under a Labour Government “councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.”

ADDITION (v) That this council supports the policy set out by the leader of the Labour party, which is why Lambeth’s estate regeneration schemes are being undertaken by a 100% council-owned company not private developers and why we have guaranteed no net loss of social housing, full rights to remain for all council tenants and a fair deal for leaseholders and freeholders. Labour party policy on ballots applies to all future schemes under a Labour government, when councils would have the funding, flexibility and powers to build and refurbish social housing that is denied to them by this Conservative government. END ADDITION

Council further notes that

ADDITION (i) Lambeth has been engaging with residents on six estates since 2014, holding extensive consultation and engagement on how to deliver better homes where refurbishment is unaffordable. END ADDITION  It was stated at Lambeth Council’s Cabinet meeting on 23 March 2017 that 55% of council tenants on Central Hill DELETION appeared to END DELETION ADDITION did END ADDITION support the proposal to completely rebuild their estate, ADDITION with 34 per cent of tenants being opposed to rebuilding, as set out in the independent report presented to Cabinet. END ADDITION

DELETED ENTIRELY: However, a subsequent council report authorised by Sue Foster, Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 3rd May 2017 stated clearly “The consultation was not a ballot.”. Council also notes that the 55% figure was strongly disputed by residents and was not backed up by evidence from the council, which created a huge amount of distrust amongst residents. END DELETION

(ii) Proper consultation and balloting residents is complicated and should therefore be undertaken carefully. There are a multiplicity of tenures on estates – council (including temporary) and private tenants, leaseholders (both resident and absentee landlords including agencies and companies)) – whose interests may vary; and that this must be properly recognised by not allowing the interests of one group to override another’s.

ADDITION (iii) The council set out the need to balance these interests, as well as those of the wider community and of local residents directly affected, in its response to the Mayor’s consultation on a proposed new funding condition to require resident ballots in estate regeneration. The council recommended incorporating three guiding principles to underpin a new, London-wide ballot process for residents living on estates earmarked for regeneration. They are: Guaranteed rights for resident with an approved key guarantee offer for all affected residents; a voice for residents on local housing waiting lists, weighted to those most likely to directly benefit from a programme of additional council housing in their local area; and the need to provide transparent and deliverable options to residents. END ADDITION

DELETED ENTIRELY:(iii) Not only must the consequences of the ballot result be fully understood by all concerned, but the process needs to be – and be seen to be – independent of all those involved in the regeneration project, all parties must have an equality of campaigning and financial resources, the questions need to be clear and agreed by all parties, and the outcome of the ballot must be transparent and accountable. END DELETION
 
ADDITION(iv) That the council’s response to the Mayor’s consultation supported the use of independent bodies throughout the consultation process, not just for ballots, as Lambeth council has done on each of the six estates currently going through this process.
 
Council resolves to continue to place residents at the heart of the decision-making process, by working with the Mayor of London on his estate regeneration principles and fully implementing his recommendations when published. END ADDITION

DELETED ENTIRELY Council therefore resolves to ballot all the residents of the Central Hill Estate, Cressingham Gardens Estate and the Fenwick Estate based on the principles on (i) and (ii) above and notes that along with giving some control over their future back to the residents of those estates, if the residents on Central Hill voted for demolition then this would give the council access to additional funds from the Mayor of London. END DELETION

ADDITION Council supports the ambitious programme in the Labour Party’s Green Paper, Housing for the Many, which sets out how a Labour Government would tackle the Tory housing crisis by investing in social and council housing and providing councils with access to new powers, flexibility and funding to provide decent homes that are currently denied to them by this government. END ADDITION

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