The Conservative councillors for West Hendon ward have voted against reviewing the Council’s Housing Allocations Scheme to increase the chance that all Marsh Drive non-secure tenants will be re-housed in permanent secure tenancies.
The vote took place at last night’s Full Council meeting (28 Jan) on a Labour motion about poor quality temporary accommodation and non-secure tenants. Labour councillors asked for the Housing Allocations Scheme to be reviewed to recognise the length of time people have been living in temporary accommodation. Without a change to the Housing Allocations Scheme or a decision to exercise discretion within the Scheme it is likely that many of the tenants will remain in long-term temporary accommodation or be forced into unaffordable private sector properties.
Many of the non-secure ‘temporary’ tenants on Marsh Drive have been living on the West Hendon estate for between 5-20 years.
Conditions in the old blocks on the estate have been described as ‘not fit for human habitation’ and include pest infestations, flooding, damp, mould, exposed electrical wiring, peeling wall paper, cracked plaster work, broken security doors, drug-taking in communal areas and other criminal activity because of the lack of security doors. A recent structural report revealed that the building would not withstand a gas explosion.
Barnet’s ruling Conservative councillors rejected calls by Marsh Drive residents and Labour councillors for these non-secure tenants to be granted secure tenancies at Housing & Growth Committee on Monday night (27 Jan).
The 121 tenants are living without certainty about when and where they will be moved, although they have been told it will be before October 2020. For those who are not granted a secure tenancy they are worried whether they will be able to afford a new home in the private rented sector. They are also worried they will be moved to another dilapidated regeneration estate or outside Barnet and London – away from their children’s schools, friends, family and support networks.
Labour councillors also called for the Council to look at ensuring that this doesn’t happen, but all the Conservative councillors, including the three West Hendon councillors, rejected this motion at last night’s Full Council meeting.
Barnet Labour’s Housing & Growth Spokesperson, and Deputy Leader, Cllr Ross Houston said: “These residents have been badly let down by the Council, their landlord, and now by their own local councillors.
“The rejection of any proposals that ensure these residents are re-housed in permanent secure homes at some point in the future is shameful.
“We will keep pressing the case for these residents to be treated fairly.”
Labour councillor, Anne Clarke, who has been helping Marsh Drive residents and who spoke in the debate said: “Barnet continues to let down our poorest residents by shifting them from one dilapidated estate to the next.
“There are residents in the ward I serve, and across Barnet, who have been moved around between estates that are falling apart, and they never know where they’ll be one month to the next.
“Labour tried to bring certainty and security to these residents, but we were sadly outvoted by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrat.”
- A copy of the Labour motions can be found here (Agenda Item 14.2): https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=162&MId=9955
For more information contact:
Cllr Ross Houston: 07973 694 652
Cllr Anne Clarke: 07563 091 131
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568