Below is the speech I gave to full council proposing a fairer repayment scheme for leaseholders.
Thank you Mr Mayor and Chag Sameach, Happy Chanukah to you and all members.
Mr Mayor, I hope the all members received my email from earlier today with an attached copy of the report which at first according to Cllr Davey at the 27th October Housing Committee never existed.
Then he tried to shift the blame onto Barnet Homes and then eventually revealed he may have seen something.
Well Mr Mayor… A pesky Freedom of Information request told me it did exist and the four thousand plus leaseholders across Barnet deserve that this be voted on openly, not rejected behind closed doors as Barnet’s biggest landlord Cllr Davey wanted.
Whilst on this point, one has to question what the point of a Committee system is if Committee chairs can act like tin pot dictators and remove items from agreed work programmes. But I digress…
The proposal I have brought before us tonight affects thousands of our residents in every ward.
The report consists of two parts:
one is of special interest to leaseholders living on the West Hendon estate who are having their homes bulldozed within a matter of months in some cases and being presented will bills of upto £10,000 and being offered a poor deal on the terms of the repayment schedule.
The second is about understanding that our leaseholders like many others are facing increasing financial burdens in these tough times. The report proposed an extension of the interest free period for the more expensive maintenance works.
According to my freedom of information request, these proposals were signed off by every relevant commissioner and officer at the Council and Barnet Homes right until the Friday prior to the 17th October where in a call over meeting it was withdrawn.
A resident on the Fairway in Hale ward facing a huge leaseholder bill of over £8000 wrote to me today. On the repayment plan he has he said:
“If this was expected to be paid back over the course of a year it would be £666 per month! In our case, this is more than we pay for our mortgage and food bills per month combined. There is simply no way we can make payments of that scale.”
He went on to say:
“While we do not dispute the need for the work, or the need to pay, we feel 1 or even 2 years is a completely unreasonable amount of time to pay back that amount of money.”
Another Hale resident wrote to me stating:
“From our perspective we are working people with a young family who can’t afford to pay this bill over 24 months. Matthew Offord did tell us it was the pay off for buying a discounted flat but we are the third family to live in this flat and like most of neighbours certainly have not benefited from any council discount, we paid full market value.”
This is such a issue locally and its important people who just about manage to pay their bills aren’t forced into debt by Barnet”
Many of these residents were sold Thatchers dream of right to buy, now this Conservative Council have seemed so keen to sell them down the river.
If members are curious as to how many leaseholders are affected in their own wards I would point them to the bottom of page 23 of questions to the Leader. Members in Hale, Brunswick Park and Mill Hill may wish to think very carefully before voting.
Mr Mayor, I have too much to say but will end by saying that this proposal is a fair repayment and is a compassionate response to this very specific cost of living issue. I urge all members to vote for this motion.