In his regular column (19/02/2015, Barnet Press), Cllr Cornelius does himself no favours in writing so casually about the housing devastation that his administration has reaped upon hundreds of Barnet households. Over the last decade – before we have even begun the bulk of the council’s so called ‘regeneration’, this authority has lost 826 socially rented units on what the London Assembly Housing Committee refer to as “major schemes”. This excludes units lost from Right to Buy. The analysis from the London Assembly Housing Committee shows that yes, Barnet is building (4,032 on major schemes over the past decade), but these homes are almost exclusively for those with money – foreign investors in a great many cases. This Conservative administration, supported by the three Barnet Conservative MPs are letting down residents in desperate need.
The Council’s plan has been to put a huge number of tenants on legally flimsy non-secure ‘temporary’ tenancies on a long term basis and then move them around the borough whenever the developer comes calling. Around 40% of all non-secure tenant households in this borough have been living on these temporary contracts for five years or longer. Eventually there will be no housing left to move them to.
The problem is that the housing stock that the council still owns is now at critical levels and the crisis at Sweets Way has shown this to be true. The Tories are now relying on landlords across London and beyond, charging well above what social housing costs to meet the housing need. The figures also back this up. In 2012/13 the Council had paid private landlords £42,689 in incentive payments. By half way through this financial year this figure has jumped to £512,556 – this is just in incentives, not rent!
This policy of selling off our housing stock is costly both financially and for our families. The Tories running the council seem unable to do basic math on housing and are even less able to do basic empathy.
West Hendon and Sweets Way have felt the full brunt of this Council’s nasty policies on housing but they will not be the last. This Thursday the Council Planning Committee will be deciding on the redevelopment of the Granville Road estate in Childs Hill, officers have recommended the scheme for approval despite it not providing even one additional socially rented unit to meet the clear and urgent need.
Either Barnet are incompetent at negotiating or something more sinister is going on – I suspect the latter.
Grahame Park is the biggest estate in Barnet and it is next. People of Barnet, you aint seen nothing yet from these dodgy developers and their Tory mates.
Labour Councillor for West Hendon ward
Member of the Housing Committee, LB Barnet