Why isn’t council pushing to build?
Lobbying the government for more powers to build council housing was one of Southwark Liberal Democrats’ pledges in their last election manifesto, so I was a little surprised to read in your recent article, Back to basics (Inside Housing, 7 November), that the council’s official line is ‘non-committal’ on new building options.
This from a council with the most authority-run housing stock in London, a waiting list longer than your arm, my arm and the next dozen people’s arms all put together, and an enthusiastically pro-council housing tenants movement.
You’d think they’d be falling over themselves to lend the housing minister encouragement.
Still, it might explain why nobody in the council’s executive has bothered to write to the government to actually ask for more powers to build council housing since their election in 2006, as I discovered from a recent FOI request.Perhaps the silent policy reversal was part of the party’s power-sharing agreement with the Tory leader, now housing boss?
It would be nice, in any case, to know exactly what Southwark Liberal Democrats’ aspirations are in terms of new council housing stock, why they’ve reneged on a manifesto pledge and whether they plan to make a convenient rediscovery of their enthusiasm for it just before the next election.
Paul Bates, Labour spokesperson for regeneration and housing, Southwark Council