The Independent exposes the real cost of Tory Councils

May 5, 2010 at 8:54 am | Posted in London | Comments Off on The Independent exposes the real cost of Tory Councils
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Great article in The Independent today exposing the real cost of Tory councils.  The actions of Tories in Hammersmith & Fulham has been well-documented but Johann Hari gives a brilliant account of the human cost of ‘progressive Conservatism’.

More contempt for council housing in Barnet

April 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Posted in London | Comments Off on More contempt for council housing in Barnet
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David Cameron said in the third Leaders Debate that he wanted to;

 “Reward councils that go ahead and build homes for families.”

But his councils tell another story entirely.

The Tory Cabinet Member for Housing at ‘no frills’ Barnet Council has said that he was “proud” of Barnet’s housing waiting list and that some people on the list were there as a “lifestyle choice”.  These comments were made at a Full Council meeting on 20 April 2010.  

This is in a borough where figures released by homeless charity Shelter, show that residents waiting for social housing in Barnet have the longest wait in the country.  It has also agreed 2,209 fewer homes than it was asked to deliver and missed its Local Area Agreement targets to deliver affordable homes for rent.

Residents living in Barnet would need to earn around £66,000 per annum to be able to afford to buy an average-priced house in the borough.

The Tory Councils in London are showing their true contempt for social housing.  Hammersmith & Fulham Tories call council housing “barracks for the poor” and “warehousing poverty”.  Tories in neighbouring Kensington & Chelsea call council housing “ghettos”.  The Council is looking at ending secure council tenancies and raising rents to private sector levels four times what they are now. 

Cameron’s Tories are a serious threat to social housing as we know it.

Contempt for council tenants in Hammersmith and Fulham

April 27, 2010 at 8:05 am | Posted in London | Comments Off on Contempt for council tenants in Hammersmith and Fulham
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Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Decent Homes Regeneration Policy is reported to envisage large scale reduction of council homes.

But the Tories complain it is “hard to get rid of people” from their homes.

Their contempt for tenants is clear. A council memo describes council housing as “barracks for the poor” and “warehousing poverty”.

The Tory Leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, Conservative Home’s Local Hero of 2008, has told his Tory colleagues that public housing is an “asset” but which “delivers a risible return”. His solution is the end of social housing:

“To continue building and publicly investing in the “social rent” template which provides tenancies for life with no incentive or requirement to work or to move on which locks investment and people into properties makes no sense.”

The Tory goal is to gain profit from peoples’ homes and drive forward the Conservative philosophy of market rents and scrapping security of tenure, while encouraging expensive, upmarket flats.

Like David Cameron, Stephen Greenhalgh says one thing to the public and another to his Tory colleagues. He told Hammersmith & Fulham tenants in the council newspaper:

“We are giving a cast-iron guarantee that where renewal opportunities arise all council tenants will be offered a permanent home in the area.”

But he told fellow Tories:

“The problems inherent in trying to move households from one property to another when they cease to fulfill a ‘need’ condition would be solved by having just one form of tenancy, modelled on Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)….In almost all cases we would expect the initial term of the AST to be 6 months as is standard in the private rental market.”

Stephen Greenhalgh heads up the Tory Councils Innovation Unit and advises the Cameron team on their future plans.  Putting these plans in across the country would mean that the eight million people in council or housing association homes would see their rents double or triple, be forced to move onto six month tenancies and have their security of tenure cut to a two-month notice to quit.

Watch a video from The Guardian on Hammersmith & Fulham

Information from Stephen Cowan, Leader of the Labour Group, Hammersmith and Fulham.

 

Slashing investment in homes, threatening recovery

April 21, 2010 at 8:05 am | Posted in London | Comments Off on Slashing investment in homes, threatening recovery
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Last year, Caroline Spelman, Cameron’s Local Government Shadow, wrote to all Tory Councils, urging them to cut the financial ground from under builders by delaying housing building and commercial and business developments.

The Housebuilders Federation have called Tory plans high riskpotentially having “unintended consequences” and posing “significant concerns” for the housebuilding industry and “would lead to a hiatus in planning for housing.”

Spelman told her Tory Councils last year that a Tory government would back them by looking to bring in legislation to “revoke the Regional Spatial Strategies” (which help deliver the new housing) and urged Tory Town Halls,

“Even before primary legislation is passed, local authorities will have the ability to put the brakes on elements of Regional Spatial Strategies which they find undesirable.”

And to back up the threat to builders who start construction on new housing
later blocked by a Tory Government, said:

“We will not pay a penny of compensation.”

Whilst Caroline Spelman tries to block new house building, the Tory Housing Shadow says to The Observer,

“We are unabashed about the need for more housing.”

The Tories are saying one thing and doing another on housing and their plans are high risk and would be a threat to the recovery.

Contempt for council tenants in Kensington & Chelsea

April 21, 2010 at 8:00 am | Posted in London | Comments Off on Contempt for council tenants in Kensington & Chelsea
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In Kensington and Chelsea, a Tory councillor has called council estates “ghettos” which are “full of paranoia”.  He made the comments in a debate on the proposed demolition of a council estate.

In neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham, Tory contempt for council tenants is clear. A council memo describes council housing as “barracks for the poor” and “warehousing poverty”. Their solution is the end of social housing.

The Tories say one thing but do another.  Their policies are driven by dogma not the needs of the local community.

Massive increases in charges in Tory Wandsworth

April 21, 2010 at 12:03 am | Posted in London | Comments Off on Massive increases in charges in Tory Wandsworth
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In Tory-run Wandsworth, the cost of Meals on Wheels has gone up a staggering 43% between 2005 and 2010.  This is 26% above the rate of inflation.

The cost of a swim in Latchmere Leisure centre in Wandsworth has increased at 3% above inflation between 2005 and 2010.

Between 2006 and 2009, prices for adult social care, for the most vulnerable in our society increased by:

Adult day care : 148% (£5.00 to £12.40)

Home Care: 48.5% (£10.30-£15.30)

The average increase in council services in this period was 16%.

These prices are hitting the young, old and vulnerable in Wandsworth.

Between 2006 and 2009, resident parking permits also increased with some increased by 44%.

We know why this is happening.  Eddie Lister, Leader of the Tory council in Wandsworth, says that local councils should hike up the prices of local services as far as they can go.  He says:

“We will look to increase charges as far as possible beyond inflation so that consumers of the services are bearing the full cost.”

He’s prepared to play Tory politics with services that people rely on.  He says:

“It is worth taking a trial and error approach to see just what the market [residents] will bear.”

So while, with one hand, the Tory council appears to give by making reductions in council tax, they take from families and the vulnerable in our communities with the other hand with huge charges.

And on the Conservative website, they say,

“We need to help those elderly people who are amongst the most vulnerable in our society.”

This is an example of the Tories saying one thing and doing another.

Information from Councillor Tony Belton, Labour Leader, Wandsworth Council

No to helping the homeless

April 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Posted in London | Comments Off on No to helping the homeless
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Grant Shapps, David Cameron’s Housing Shadow says:

“How we combat homelessness is a mark of a civilised society.”

On the other hand, Tory Hammersmith & Fulham closed homeless hostels and Cllr Greg Smith, its Cabinet Member for Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, told the press that the homeless are a “law and order issue” and banned Crisis from running a Christmas night shelter.

For more on homelessness in Hammersmith and Fulham, read Stephen Cowan here.

True blue not green

April 20, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Posted in London | Comments Off on True blue not green
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David Cameron wants to be seen pictured sledging on a glacier with huskies to
register his ‘concern’ for the environment while the Conservative website
proudly announces a Conservative Government will make developing
renewable energy sources a priority.   Tory Councils tell a different story.

As Greenpeace revealed, Tory councils block more than three times as many
wind farms as they approve. At the current rate of approvals it will
take Conservative councils more than 100 years to replace one coal fired
power station.

The proposal at Kingsnorth is to build two 800mw coal fired power stations. At the current rate of Tory approvals, an average of 14.9mw per year, (44.7mw over three years), it will take  Conservative councils more than 100 years to replace one coal fired power station.

Cutting funding for young people in London

April 20, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Posted in London | Comments Off on Cutting funding for young people in London
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David Cameron says,

“We need strong families, we need youth clubs, we need things to divert people away from crime”.

His councils tell a different story.

Like Tory Hammersmith & Fulham which has closed and sold a youth club – Castle Road Youth Club in Hammersmith was closed in November 2007.

52 Tory-run councils have not signed up to free swimming

April 20, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Posted in London, Midlands, Nationwide, North East, North West, South East, South West, Yorkshire and the Humber | Comments Off on 52 Tory-run councils have not signed up to free swimming
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52 Tory-run councils have not signed up to the Government’s scheme to provide free swimming for children and pensioners.

As the Tory Leader of Southampton Council, Alec Samuels says:

“We do not in principle favour ‘free this and free that’, such as swimming or transport, school meals or computers or whatever it is.”

Conservative Councils are choosing not to provide services for dogmatic reasons.

 

Councils not taking part in the free swimming scheme as of 15 December 2009:

Adur
Arun
Ashford
Basildon
Basingstoke & Deane
Bournemouth
Bromley
Chelmsford
Christchurch
Crawley
Dacorum
Dartford
East Devon
East Dorset
East Northamptonshire
East Riding of Yorkshire
Fareham
Forest of Dean
Hambleton
Harlow
Harrogate
Havant
Hertsmere
Horsham
Ipswich
Isle of Wight
Lichfield
Maidstone
Maldon
Mendip
Mid Sussex
North Hertfordshire
Nuneaton & Bedworth
Poole
Rochford
Rossendale
Scarborough
Sedgemoor
Sevenoaks
South Northamptonshire
South Oxfordshire
Swale
Tandridge
Test Valley
Tonbridge & Malling
Torridge
Trafford
Tunbridge Wells
West Oxfordshire
West Somerset
Westminster
Weymouth & Portland
Worthing

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