Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council is continuing to press ahead with their flawed plans to abolish council housing in the borough. Most council tenants and council leaseholders I have spoken to have been emphatic in their opposition for the stock transfer to an unaccountable new housing association. Yet the Council continue to squander vast sums on the project. Lawyers, PR men and property consultants get rich while the Council pleads poverty when it comes to clearing a backlog of repairs.
The latest wheeze is to splash out on an “Independent Tenant’s and Leaseholders’ Adviser for the whole “housing stock options appraisal” process.” It turns out that there is not just one adviser but seven. This service is provided by the “Tenant Empowerment Organisation” – which contrary to the impression given by its name is a private company.
So how independent will the advice be?
Kathleen Corbett, Director of Finance & Resources (Housing & Regeneration), reports that to date the Council has paid TPAS £160,291.64p. Any claim that TPAS is impartial while pocketing funds on that scale is absurd.
If I were a council tenant I would be very nervous about my landlord becoming an unaccountable private sector housing association.
For example, Notting Hill Housing are very significant landowners in this part of Hammersmith, but appear to regard this as a burden rather than a vocation.
We have seen tenants suffering from damp-related diseases in cold and dilapidated houses as Notting Hill dithered for years about whether to renovate or sell the property.
There is also a casual, almost contemptuous attitude towards maintenance and repair, with 15-20 years passing between decoration works and properties sitting under scaffolding for over a year for the most minor of works.
Local councillors are powerless to intervene and influence. Indeed they seem as frustrated as the rest of us.
LBHF council may leave something to be desired as a landlord, but this could be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.