Controversial council leader to stand down
One of the most influential and controversial housing policy figures in local government is to stand down.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Conservative leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council in west London announced today that he will stand down from his position in six months time. Mr Greenhalgh said that he will remain as a councillor to pioneer a neighbourhood budget for the White City area of the borough.
A spokesperson for the council said there was no specific reason for Mr Greenhalgh standing down apart from his desire to do ‘grassroots’ work on the White City project.
Mr Greenhalgh co-authored an influential report for the thinktank Localis in 2009, Principles for Social Housing Reform, which argued for deregulation of housing providers, higher rents, less capital subsidy and a gradual end to security of tenure. Many of the ideas in the report have since been adopted in whole or in part by the coalition government.
The paper said: ‘To continue building and publicly investing in the “social rent”template which provides tenancies for life with no incentive or requirement to seek work or move on and which locks investment and people into properties, makes no sense.’
Under Mr Greenhalgh’s watch the council has caused controversy by proposing to knock down the West Kensington and Gibbs Green housing estates as part of the 5,000-home Earls Court regeneration project. The tenants and residents associations on the estate want to use proposed new powers to take ownership of the estates.
Last week the Greater London Authority found the plans for the Earls Court scheme breached 44 policies in the London Plan, including six housing polices.
Mr Greenhalgh said: ‘We can be so proud of what we have achieved in becoming such an influential, trail blazing council. From cutting tax to paying off debt, to widening choice in schools and housing, from fighting crime to a cleaner environment we have blazed the trail. We have been the guiding star by which other councils seek to navigate.’