THE LONDON Borough of Lambeth, under the control of Blairite right-wing Labour, agreed in March to bulldoze the council estate at Cressingham Gardens.
The decision comes as a slap in the face to local residents of Cressingham Gardens who have campaigned long and hard to save their homes and who submitted an alternative, cheaper plan to repair the homes.
Lambeth Council Cabinet agreed to press ahead with the complete regeneration of Cressingham Gardens during a robust meeting on Monday 21st March at Lilian Bayliss Technology School.
Residents had taken the council to court over the lack of consultation and won a High Court ruling of “unlawful” behaviour by Lambeth Council that led to the second consultation.Taking the matter back to court could now be an option once again for the residents.
Speakers during the meeting continually called for a full public inquiry to look at the financial claims made by Officers in the Cabinet report.
Council Leader Cllr Lib Peck opened the meeting on Monday evening with a request for it to be carried out in a reasonable manner.
A large crowd of protestors had gathered outside Lilian Bayliss. The following hour and 45 minutes was always going to be lively. Cllr Matthew Bennett, the Progress Cabinet member for Housing, opened the agenda item: “We do not believe that the quality of homes should be determined by wealth or income.”
This statement led to the first of many comedy boos that continued for the rest of the evening. Cllr Peck intervened to help out her fellow Progress faction member: “If we do want an opportunity to listen to other people, then we will have to listen. Otherwise I will adjourn this meeting. I recognise that Cressingham generates strong emotions.”
Cllr Bennett then attempted to make his case for complete regeneration of the council estate: “The Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS) has been co-produced with thousands of tenants. This is not a bare legal minimum, but an aspiration as to where people want to live. In 2012 the Council was upfront about the cuts in the Lambeth grant.”
Cllr Bennett was heckled with chants of: “LIAR! LIAR! LIAR!” The Cabinet member composed himself, then added: “In 2012 we stated that we were £56 million short if we wanted to bring the LHS to every home in Lambeth.
“Refurbishment was not going to be an option. Since then the finances have deteriorated. We are facing a further £30 million coming out of the housing account because of the Housing Bill rent reductions. The cost of refurbishing Cressingham is higher than refurbishing other estates.”
Further heckles followed. It was clear that Cllr Bennett wasn’t looking to win any votes in the room when he added: “The case has not been made to divert money from other estates to Cressingham. The options of refurbishment do not stack up favourably. The proposal is for all homes to be re-built. It will see no loss of social housing. We are building 27 extra homes for Council rents. We are committed to 1,000 extra homes at council rent for local families.”
Cllr Bennett was then shouted down. He couldn’t continue.