Labour talk a lot about listening to residents and wanting to make consultation more effective. But their actions regarding housing forums show they have moved in the opposite direction.
There used to be area forum meetings held in Hammersmith North, South Hammersmith, Fulham North and Sands End to allow council estate residents (tenants and leaseholders) to challenge housing officers and councillors on issues of concern.
Now there is a single borough wide forum – meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall – with the predictable difficulties in making it harder from those from other parts of the borough to attend and there is less chance to raise issues of local concern.
The council may find the new arrangement of greater bureaucratic convenience. Nilavra Mukerji, Director of Housing Services, tells me that “standard items such as performance were discussed was not consistent between the various meetings.” The new arrangement also means that Cllr Lisa Holman, the Cabinet Member for Housing, has less work and stay cocooned in the town hall rather than getting out across the borough.
These justifications are not valid. When the Conservatives regain the Council in 2018 we will restore local forums and allow council tenants and leaseholders to have their voices heard.