A number of people lobbied Lambeth council leader Lib Peck and chief executive Derrick Anderson ahead of our meeting with them on July 17. Thought the meeting was constructive, the rhetoric of he council has not changed as this response to an ex Camelot Guardian shows.
First is the original letter and then Peck’s reply with our riposte in italics.
Dear Lib Peck and Derrick Anderson,
I write with reference to the eviction policy of ‘shortlife recall’ in Lambeth, and the detrimental effect I believe this has on Lambeth’s citizens. I was a guardian for Camelot from October to December 2012 and was appalled to discover that the community I was living in were all under threat of eviction against their will as part of this shortlife recall policy.
With this policy, housing co-ops that have existed in the borough for 40 years are being destroyed. Considering that Lambeth portrays itself as a co-operative council, it is shameful, to say the least, that they are meanwhile actively pursuing this policy that ultimately will increase the level of homeless and otherwise vulnerable people in the borough (by evicting long established people in the community, as well as by selling off their housing stock to private developers who will only have short term gains as their incentives that will harm the community in the long run).
Against the background of threatened evictions and legal intimidation, I know that residents have proposed a Super Co-op supported by Kate Hoey MP and co-op and social housing professionals and are still hoping that Lambeth Council will seek a more constructive way of working with them.
I hope that something constructive will come out of your scheduled meeting with them this week, if you are truly a ‘co-operative council’ you could have started with some of the longest-established co-ops in your borough and built on them instead of pursuing a short-sighted policy of evicting people who have been some of Lambeth’s longest-residents.
Lib Peck’s reply:
Thank you for your email.
We want to stand up for those who are most in need of council housing and we have very clear and fair allocations policy which enables that to happen. We are not against co-operative models of housing but we do have to ensure that everyone has fair access to the housing we have available. We have met with, and continue to meet with residents who want to set up housing co-ops in Lambeth, including Lambeth Housing United Coop.
See briefing about today for last point. They stand to lose social housing units in Clapham Town, as many as they are applauding themselves for creating after Rushcroft Rd evictions.
Trying to divide and rule by pitting us against council tenants who Lambeth have failed for years thanks to fraud and mismanagement in the housing department.
Shortlife housing was only ever offered to people on a temporary basis, and is not part of Lambeth’s social housing stock. Of course we can understand why the last remaining shortlife residents want to stay where they are – many have lived there for a long time and do not have to pay any rent. We have guaranteed every shortlife resident the opportunity to buy the property, or become a council tenant on a secure lifetime tenancy in a different property that meets their needs.
‘Shortlife’ has been part of Lambeth for 40 years now and sescribed by councillors from Lib Peck’s party as “giving a welcome permanence to the area.” Housing co-ops were left to make their own arrangements in terms of managing the stock. The council sought no financial relationship with us. Now in the courts are they charging ‘unauthorised occupation fees’ designed to coerce us on top of normal legal fees. When one judge suggested a defendant started paying them incrementally they wouldn’t – still scared that they would have responsibility for us as tenants.
Offer to buy was just not applicable to most of us and Lib Peck has admitted this. Housing offers have seen many people shown unsuitable accommodation and I worse state than places that they are leaving and many vulnerable people face leaving supportive communities.
Any gains made from the sale of some of theses properties will be re-invested into housing, either in terms of bringing near derelict properties back into use, investing in our estates or delivering new affordable housing. Some shortlife properties are worth over £2m – so a single sale could bring over 100 Lambeth properties up to the Lambeth Housing Standard.
Our houses were Compulsory Purchase Ordered for demolition and bought for a few thousand pounds. Now the housing market has gone haywire were seen as valuable assets, with market value as noose round our neck, and not long-term residents who maintained houses across decades.
The money raised has been said to be going into general regeneration budget and across other areas as well as housing. It is unlikely that Lambeth will manage to get new stock in more numbers than the social housing stick they are wiping off the map.
Cllr Lib Peck
Leader, Lambeth Council