The former Labour MP Keith Hill has been appointed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council as the “Residents Housing Commissioner”. His brief is to win round tenants and leaseholders to the councils proposal to privatise the entire council housing stock.
It must have been a tough interview.
Labour MP Austin Mitchell has attacked Mr Hill for a “dogmatic insistence on privatisation” regarding council housing.
Mr Hill was Housing Minister from 2003-05. Even the Labour member of the London Assembly Tom Copley has said that Labour should apologise for its housing record in Government – where fewer new council homes were built in 13 years than in a single year under Margaret Thatcher.We have yet to hear any such apology from Mr Hill.
In 2009 Mr Hill became Chairman of Lambeth Living, the disastrous council housing almo – which tenants have just voted to scrap. The year after Mr Hill’s appointment it emerged that consultants were paid £4,500 a week to work there.
The following year the Labour MP Kate Hoey said Lambeth Living was “pretty much of a disaster”. Adding “the tenants are now left with huge amounts of very bad housing with no one wanting to do anything about it. ”
So is Mr Hill to do for Hammersmith and Fulham what he has done for Lambeth?
We are getting used to gimmicks about “independent” task forces, reviews and commissions. But even by Labour’s cynical standards this latest appointment is less than subtle.