Labour to force vote on leaseholders' repayment scheme

Barnet's Labour councillors will be forcing a vote on a secret report blocked by Conservative Housing Boss Cllr Tom Davey which proposed helping leaseholders in financial difficulty by allowing them more time to repay major works bills of up to £35,000. The vote will take place as part of the Labour Group's Opposition debate at the Full Council meeting next week on Tuesday 16 December.

The secret report was obtained by West Hendon Labour councillor Adam Langleben through a Freedom of Information request and shows the concessions Barnet Homes were planning to give their 4,119 leaseholders. 

Residents facing major works costs of between £3,001 and £5,000 would have seen an extension of interest free repayments from 24 months to 36 months. Those facing bills between £7,501 and £15,000 would have their interest free repayment period extended from 24 months to 48 months.

Leaseholders living on regeneration estates such as the West Hendon estate have been facing bills of up to £10,000 for works which have a life expectancy of 25 years but due to scheduled demolition these leaseholders would only see up to five or six years’ worth of usage. Barnet Homes had proposed to alter the repayment schedule for works on the West Hendon estate to recognise the full 25 years’ worth of usage.  When leaseholders are forced to leave their properties because of demolition, the debt would be cleared and they would only pay pro rata for the period they benefited from the works. This was originally proposed to Barnet Council and Barnet Homes by Andrew Dismore AM in early 2014.

The proposed concessions followed intensive campaigning from the West Hendon Labour councillors and the leaseholders affected.

At the Housing Committee meeting on 27 October, Conservative Chair Cllr Tom Davey confirmed that he had seen the report and that he had personally blocked it from coming to the committee. Cllr Davey refused to give a reason as to why he had blocked the report but was absolutely clear that his decision was final and it would not be coming back to the committee.

A link to the Opposition Business Item, in the name of Cllr Adam Langleben can be found below.

Cllr Adam Langleben said: "It's time for the Barnet Conservatives to show whether they are on the side of residents or not. Many leaseholders across the Borough are really struggling financially, and this is an opportunity for the Tories to think again and do something positive to help them. 

"Hard right Cllr Tom Davey decided to block this report from ever seeing the light of day. The Housing Committee was not given a chance to vote on it so it is only right that all councillors now have that chance to reflect on the plight of the thousands of leaseholders in the wards they represent. Let's find out if the moderate Tories have any sway. It feels like the right thing to do just before Christmas."

Notes:

1. A copy of Cllr Langleben's Business Item can be found here: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s19890/Councillor%20Adam%20Langleben%20-%20A%20fair%20repayment%20scheme%20for%20Barnet%20Homes%20leaseholders.pdf

2. The Housing Committee met on 27th October 2014 and footage of Cllr Langleben asking the Chair about this secret paper can be found here at approx. 1:48: http://www.barnetbugle.com/journal/2014/10/28/video-housing-committee-27-october-2014.html

3. The secret report which never made it to the Housing Committee can be found at http://www.andrewdismore.org.uk/home/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/leaseholder-repayments.pdf

4. The press release sent out by Andrew Dismore on 28 October can be found here: http://www.dismore4hendon.co.uk/dismore_condemns_barnet_conservatives_betrayal_over_10_000_bills_for_west_hendon_leaseholders

5. Background to the story can be found at http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11045090._Scandalous____Barnet_Homes_forces_neighbours_to_pay___10_000_of_repairs_on_flats_earmarked_for_demolition/  and at http://www.finchley-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=6989&searchWord=leaseholders&searchYear=2014 

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For further details please contact:

Cllr Adam Langleben: cllr.a.langleben@barnet.gov.uk

Andrew Dismore AM: andrew@andrewdismore.org.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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