Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Cllr Mark Harrison refutes Lambeth Leaseholder Service Charge Increases

Cllr Mark Harrison has asked me to publish a comment below from him, in order to avoid the Lurking About SE11 blog being used as "a mouthpiece for Lib Dem distortions". It seems to me that he is seeking to refute the views contained in the post I made earlier, entitled Proposed Service Charge Increases for Lambeth Leaseholders.

I'd certainly be interested in getting to the bottom of the matter. It would be very useful to be able to see the minutes, taken at the Labour Councillors Meeting on Monday evening, since those should clear up the matter of whether service charges were raised. It would also be interesting to see comments on this post from anybody with any further information about what took place at the meeting. I do not want this blog used as a mouthpiece for any political party, but I do wish to promote quality discussion about community issues. Cllr Harrison's statement follows:

"The Chair of the North Lambeth Leaseholders' Forum (a prominent Liberal Democrat activist) has put out a misleading statement about rents and service charges which we need to correct.

At Monday's meeting of the Labour Group of councillors the Cabinet member for Housing explained what officers have recommended as a rent and service charge rise for tenants (there was no discussion about leaseholder charges).

A rent rise of around £4.13 on average (5%) has been floated as possible; and an average of 83p (8%) service charge increase for tenants.

This is the very first stage in the rent setting process. At the moment, all figures are estimates, because the government has not yet confirmed what Lambeth's final financial settlement will be. The next step in the rent setting process is a series of scrutiny meetings and Tenants' Council.

Lambeth's Labour councillors will be looking to keep this year's rent rise as low as possible. We are looking for savings from Lambeth Living and Lambeth Council as well as greater investment in areas such as repairs which needs more money. However, councillors have a legal duty to balance the Housing Revenue Account, so our room for manouevre is limited.

To be absolutely clear: no decisions about the level of rent have been taken. And there was no discussion of charges to leaseholders at Monday's meeting. Leaseholder charges are set precisely according to the contracts between leaseholders and the Council.

Labour councillors are working tirelssly to try to achieve value for money, decent homes, good robust management and action on ineffective staff and processes. Transforming Lambeth's housing services takes time. Setting a fair, affordable rent which covers the cost of the service is part of that process.

Your Labour councillors in Prince's ward

Contact Mark Harrison: mharrison@lambeth.gov.uk"

9 comments:

Mark L said...

Out of curiosity, who is the Chair of the forum?

Steve said...

Just to confirm that Cllr Lib Peck, the Lead Councillor for Housing has confirmed that this is the case.

This is not a Lib Dem campaign as this affect all residents whose landlord is Lambeth Council.

The Housing Revenue Account must balance by the end of March 2010 and this is one of the ways that our elected representatives will make it happen.

We are getting no service from Lambeth Living and are now getting asked to pay twice as much for it.

I challenge Cllr Harrison to come out publicly and defy his senior Councillors who have confirmed this, and show us just what was said.

Steve said...

Just to be clear - Cllr Peck confirmed that there has been discussion and that these figures are correct.

Mark L, I am the Chair of the Forum, I am a volunteer representing over 1500 households in North Lambeth and part of a wider team that represents 10,000 households across the whole of Lambeth. If you have any questions, please emails me and I will try and answer them.

john roberts said...

Just to say that Steve is a well respected member of the community that has put in more hours service as a volunteer, through the North Lambeth leaseholders forum, than anyone else i know. The meetings are always full of leasholders that inform each other of the mis-management that lambeth living provide. (if you read the south london press and the bbc website and tv coverage) Steve has highlighted the chaos that the housing service is in. They are all cerntainly not Lib Dem activists. 1 leaseholders in the Penwith estate pays nearly £3,000 in service charge for a 1 bed room flat. How can that be justified especially when the services have been slashed but the charges go up.
If you dont beleive me come to the North lambeth leaseholders forum and find out from residents themsleves.

Mark Harrison said...

Hi John

Hope you're well.

You'll notice that my statement didn't question the good work that the Leaseholder Forum does. We can all agree that the service provided by Lambeth Living is not up to scratch. I spend most of my time as a councillor working with tenants and leaseholders to hold Lambeth Living to account for poor services.

Steve's statement needed to be questioned because it stated that Labour councillors had made decisions about rent and service charge increases. We hadn't. It stated we had discussed charges for leaseholders. We hadn't. He also accused us of doing nothing to help leaseholders. This isn't true. His email was clearly a party political attack on Labour and not a constructive contribution to improving Lambeth housing services or the rent setting process.

I checked my statement with Lib Peck who agreed it was accurate. I have no idea how Steve thinks he knows what happened in a private meeting of Labour councillors that he did not attend.

Steve said...

Hi Mark

I received the information from within the Labour party. So I wonder if that is why Cllr reed has banned everyone from communications before he sees them?

I also did not make it personal which you did and I have seen the emails sent by yourself and Cllr Peck. Amazing how many times nasty and personal comments, made by Labour Cllrs that have been sent to me via 3rd parties.

How about instead of stating all the good work Councillors are doing - that there is some sort of engagement on a formal level with the Forum? Has not been any for nearly 2 years now.

Just to be absolutely clear - I am an activist for leaseholders and resident rights and trust me, anyone being this ineffective would also be called to account! this is not just for the privileged few.

I am not standing for council - as your party is spouting and I am not prepared to have my name slandered in a public election campaign either.

Regards

Steve

Anonymous said...

Hi all
For those interested in the detail of the current proposals that are before the council, they are available in the papers for the next Housing Scrutiny Committee meeting. (just Google Lambeth Calendar or use the following link.

http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/Published/C00000112/M00006747/$$Supp7517dDocPackPublic.pdf

Anonymous said...

Steve,

If asked , will you be endorsing liberal dem candidates in the May local elections?

Have you previously endorsed the lib dems?

I may be wrong but I seem to recall your picture on previous lib dem leaflets. Presumably this was with your approval.

Anonymous said...

Has the rent and charges rise mystery been solved yet?

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