Barnet's Tory councillors have performed another spectacular u-turn - this time to grant a fairer repayment scheme for Barnet Homes' leaseholders facing thousands of pounds in major works bills - despite voting against a Labour motion calling for this only a few weeks ago, and despite Tory Housing Boss, Cllr Tom Davey making it clear he would not revisit the issue.
But the u-turn is only a partial victory for leaseholders, as the Barnet Tories will not be agreeing to allow West Hendon estate regeneration leaseholders whose homes will shortly be demolished to pay pro rata for the period their properties actually benefit from the works.
In December Barnet's Labour councillors forced 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 secret report was obtained by West Hendon Labour councillor Adam Langleben through a Freedom of Information request and showed the concessions Barnet Homes were planning to give their 4,124 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.
The proposed concessions follow 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 new report will be taken at today’s Housing Committee (Feb 2) to agree the new repayment scheme.
Cllr Langleben who submitted the Full Council motion in December calling for a fairer repayment scheme said: "Expecting people to pay hundreds of pounds a month on top of their other bills was unfair and completely unreasonable - so this is good news for many leaseholders across Barnet.
"But the proposals do not go far enough - they should include those leaseholders living on regeneration estates who are facing bills of up to £10,000 for works on properties that are due to be demolished. Yet again West Hendon residents are being victimised by this uncaring Tory administration.
"In addition it seems that the council might have known for some time that these works were necessary for health and safety reasons, but did nothing until now - so they could be open to legal challenge."
1. A copy of the report on leaseholders repayment at the Feb 2 Housing Committee: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s20795/Leaseholder%20Service%20Charges.pdf
2. More coverage of this issue: http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/tories_spitefully_punish_leaseholders_in_vote_against
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568