Full Council Motion: a fair repayment scheme for Barnet Homes’ leaseholders

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at the Council and Barnet Homes right until the Friday prior to the 17th October where in a call over meeting it was withdrawn.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.

My speech to #LondonLab14 on the Great Barnet Tory Rent Robbery

Adam Langleben, Hendon CLP delegate, Jewish Labour Movement and GMB.

Delegates, it is fitting that we are here today in Hammersmith Town Hall. As delegates will know, this council under a previous Conservative administration had gained a reputation for being the most pernicious Council in the country for housing, gerrymandering and attacking the working poor.

Well delegates, thankfully, that dark period in the history of this borough has come to an end.

But the fight is not over. This title has been handed to the Tory run London Borough of Barnet otherwise known as EasyCouncil.

Tomorrow morning Tory Barnet will be the first Council in the country to go out to consultation to raise council rents for both existing and new council tenancies to 80% of market or LHA levels – whichever is higher. All this against a backdrop of Barnet having the highest private rents in Outer London. In the ward I represent that means a rent rise of over £350 a month on a 1 bed council flat.

This is an attack on the working poor. It will affect over 12,000 council tenants in our three CLPs across our borough. 45% of our tenants are in work and will be forced out of their homes, pushed onto benefits or forced into rent arrears.

Yesterday in my surgery had a young couple with a 2 year old. He works for the Council on garden maintenance, she’s lunchtime supervisor at a primary school. Both are paid the London Living Wage but even with this under these Barnet Tory plans this couple will be pushed into poverty and made homeless.

We must fight this.

Delegates, please join us in solidarity against Tory Barnet and help us stop this disgusting rent hike. An attack on the basic principle of council housing, an attempt to gerrymander, an attack on our Labour values and our Labour people.

Let me tell you this delegates, if this starts in Barnet, it will not end in Barnet.

Hendon CLP support this motion. Thank you.