Lambeth Council’s Housing Co-op Evictions:
Lambeth Council is Lambeth Council is currently destroying housing co-ops that have existed in the borough for 40 years, while at the same time marketing itself as a ‘co-operative council’.
Lambeth’s ‘recall’ of ‘shortlife’ housing means that members of these co-ops are being taken to court so that the council can gain possession of their homes – homes that co-op residents have maintained across this 40-year period – and sell them on the open market, at auction.
· pulling away from a social housing solution & enforcing evictions
· purging established communities & destroying home and family life built up over 40 years
· airbrushing the fact that permanency for co-op communities was a stated aim
· displacing people onto an already over-subscribed housing waiting list
· using re-housing offers as instruments of coercion
· charging exorbitant legal fees as a scare tactic
· spending money on lawyers, vacant property managers and auctioneers
· spending money on contractors to smash up and then refurbish vacated houses
Against this background, housing co-op residents, supported by their MP (Kate Hoey), are still hoping that Lambeth Council will seek a more constructive way of working with them and have promoted a ‘Super Co-op’ that would have borough-wide benefits and leave a legacy of social housing in Lambeth – helping to tackle empty homes as well as leaving us in situ.
However, Lambeth’s so-called ‘co-operative council’ are not listening and their efforts to avoid engaging with a social housing/co-op solution have seen them behave appallingly again.
How Lambeth are running from the problem:
– Lambeth Housing Strategy 2009-2013 stated that ‘shortlifers’ would be consulted about the future us of their homes – they were not
– as soon as ‘shortlife’ residents tried to question Lambeth, it was voted to hold all meetings about ‘shortlife’ in closed cabinet sessions, deliberately excluding residents and their local representatives
Already this year:
– the council leader hi-jacked an agenda, two days before a follow-up meeting about the ‘Super Co-op’ solution (a solution that was discarded as if it had never been discussed)
– the chief executive refused to engage in a meeting with ‘shortlifers’ set up by a local housing provider
– there has been a dispute with a senior officer as to what minutes are defined as – apparently Lambeth define them as ‘your notes’ and ‘our notes’
– a departmental director has refused to address direct legal points made in correspondence
– finally, an attempt to question the policy with a ‘Councillor Call for Action’ has been deliberately hampered by the council’s legal department
It is both sad and frustrating that a common sense solution to a particularly unpleasant episode has met with such treatment – it’s not what people expect from a ‘co-operative council’ or indeed any council.
The destruction of our communities has already begun. By the end of this year, Lambeth hoped to have solved the problem of ‘shortlife’ by forcing us from our homes.
Our long-standing communities have been described by a current ruling group councillor as ‘giving a welcome permanence and continuity to the area’.
What is a council for, if it is not to preserve these kinds of qualities?
Perhaps you can help us find out and helps us reach a fairer solution?
More information on www.lambethunitedhousingco-op.org.uk