Posted by: Carl Brown13/04/2012
Local councils are often portrayed, especially in the local press, as the bad guys, trampling on tenants and refusing to listen to what residents really want.
This is often crudely exaggerated but does highlight the challenges faced by local authorities in taking borough-wide decisions while not alienating sections of the community. Councils now have added challenges under the new system of self-financing, which will give them a stronger incentive to assess the value of assets, and could lead to more contentious stock transfers.
Inside Housing has been contacted by four tenants groups this week who are unhappy with different London councils for different reasons.
Hackney Council is facing a potential High Court challenge from tenants and residents associations about plans to change its tenancy agreement while housing co-operatives in Lambeth are fighting a move to evict them from ‘shortlife’ properties. Defend Council Housing, a left-wing pressure group, has cried foul over a stock transfer in Lambeth while tenants groups in Hammersmith and Fulham continue to contest a proposal to demolish two estates as part of the Earls Court regeneration project.
It could be argued that all of these ‘David and Goliath’ examples illustrate the Big Society in action, with small co-operatives, TRAs and other tenants groups using their voice to challenge councils’ decisions.
Ultimately however councils are being encouraged to act more like businesses and use their assets (ie, housing stock) more efficiently. This will inevitably lead to more clashes between the so called ‘Big Society’ and small tenants groups.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords