Thursday, 21 June 2007

What do leaseholders in Streatham think?

At a meeting on Tuesday 19 June eleven Streatham leaseholders patiently listened to representatives from PPCR (Lorane Ophelia) and Lambeth Council (David Thompson and Gabriel Brown) present how the proposed ALMO would be of benefit to them.

Or not, as it turned out.

The meeting invite, authored by Peter Redman--Divisional Director, Housing Management and Property Services--sought to assure us of the key principles Lambeth will adopt:
  • Leaseholders will have a say in investment plans.
  • We will always consult with you before incurring costs.
  • We will work with you to ensure that any investment you make contributes to adding value to your dwelling.
  • We will investigate ways of offering you the benefit of bulk discounts on the supplies and contracts we use
  • We will provide easier ways for payment for those on the lowest incomes
Upon questioning Council officers could not support these claims. Taking the points one at a time:
  • We already have a say in investment plans through existing democratic structures: our local Residents Associations, Area Forums and Leasehold Council. At present leaseholders can refuse internal works. Any future ALMO will only follow the statutory consultation process for exterior works (e.g. roofs and windows).
  • As above, officers confirmed that only the legal minimum (so-called 'Section 20 Notice') statutory consultation process will apply.
  • It is unlikely that roofing and window works would significantly add to the value of leaseholders dwellings (buyers kind-of expect a wind and water tight property).
  • Would anyone VOLUNTARILY invite Lambeth's contractors into their homes to replace a kitchen or bathroom?
  • There will be no improvement to the current payment regime; a strange mixture of incompetence (no attempt at collecting money) and legal threats and bullying. The maximum twenty-four month installment plan will remain and leaseholders will continue to sell-up or arrange expensive additional credit (if they can get it).
So there we have it. More lies and half-truths. Absolutely no benefit moving to the ALMO. Just a recipe for more cost, secrecy (sorry that information is 'commercially sensitive') and buck-passing.

Vote no, stick with Lambeth and join the campaign for the 'Fourth Option' of direct investment. At a national level all six Labour Party deputy leadership candidates support the Fourth Option and Gordon Brown reportedly has 'an open mind'. Let's keep fighting!