Pages tagged "Housing"


Even more ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes – another 20 more stories and only a change of control at Westminster Council will make a difference

When we launched our first set of 20 ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’ in January 2018 we thought that this would spur Conservative Councillors and City West staff in to action. But all we heard was first, a denial that there was a problem and then, ‘warm words’ that action would be taken.

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And another 25 more ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’

 

Labour Councillors have issued a new dossier of another 25 more ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’ this year, following their first report in January 2018, which included 20 Nightmare Stories, and their second report in March with details of 25 more Nightmare Stories.

Once again, we have had reports from tenants and leaseholders living right across Westminster – from Pimlico to Paddington, from the West End to Westbourne – all expressing anger at the incompetent and heartless way in which City West Homes treats its 22,000 tenants and leaseholders.

Service standards have deteriorated badly following Conservative council cuts to the housing management budget, the closure of local estate offices and the bungled introduction of a new call centre and repairs contract.

In 2018, it is hard to believe the almost Dickensian situation some people have to live in and which is summed up by this report about a 70 year old woman in Dowland Street, Queen’s Park who “has been without electricity for 6 weeks. Contractors turn up and never finish the job. She is now lighting her flat with candles.”

A Labour Council will immediately put CityWest on notice so that if its performance does not rapidly improve it will be stopped from managing the council’s properties.

We have set out our plans for change if we are elected to run the council on May 3rd.

Labour’s Five Point Plan for CityWest Homes

  • From day one, Labour will take action to end the repairs crisis and improve the way CityWest treats residents. If it doesn’t urgently improve Labour will scrap it.
  • We will re-establish local estate offices.
  • We will urgently look at further ways to improve the failing call centre system.
  • We will give residents a greater say over how their homes are managed.
  • We will introduce a new leaseholders’ charter to improve support to resident leaseholders and look to limit huge major works bills.

You can read the latest report here

And another 25 more Nightmare Stories from CWH


Westminster Labour will fight for the rights of private renters

Rent Sign

If elected to lead the council on May 3rd Labour will take a more proactive approach towards the private housing market in our city to find ways to support our renters.

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Westminster Labour's 2018 Council Election Manifesto

Manifesto

After decades of the Conservatives taking Westminster for granted, residents have a real chance to change the future of this city. Years of Conservative cuts have taken their toll on local services, particularly for the most vulnerable. The Conservatives have put the needs of developers above the needs of the vast majority of local residents. For generations they have failed to build the Council (social rent) and lower (intermediate) rent homes that Westminster needs to give the City a viable future.

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Westminster Labour call for further action on fire safety

Ahead of the council elections in May Westminster Labour are setting out their plans for further action on fire safety and calling for reassurance on fire doors.

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Westminster Labour’s plan to tackle rough sleeping

Rough Sleeper

Covering the centre of London Westminster is home to rough sleepers from all over the country, many of whom have found themselves on the street due to the impact of the Conservative Government’s harsh housing and welfare policies across the UK. It is a rough sleeping challenge tougher than any other local authority.

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Westminster Labour will scrap the Council’s homelessness strategy

Image of Amberley estate W9

If elected to run the Council on May 3rd Labour will scrap Westminster’s current cruel homelessness strategy and instead work to ensure that Westminster residents who need temporary accommodation are supported closer to home where ever possible. Labour will seek to amend current banding structure to give long standing local residents of Westminster greater preference within the system, and look at ways to improve assistance to those who rely on family and friends for their support needs or who have children in local schools (rather than helping only those taking exams).

Where private sector options are required to provide temporary accommodation, Labour would work to ensure that previously longstanding residents of Westminster would be able to remain on the housing waiting list if they chose. Where placements have to be made outside of Westminster, a Labour council would seek to do more to inform the receiving boroughs about any family support needs in order to protect the most vulnerable.

We will look to implement the new Homelessness Reduction Act fairly and will seek resources to improve our housing advice and homelessness prevention services.

Labour’s proposed Westminster Housing Commission would undertake an urgent review of Westminster Council’s approach to homelessness that would be overseen by Housing Commission Vice-Chair and former Chief Executive of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K).

Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “The impact of the Conservative Government’s cruel housing and benefits policies are causing problems for many local authorities trying to deal with statutory homelessness however Westminster is widely seen as draconian in its approach. The long-term answer is provided by Labour’s social housing plans but there needs to be an urgent review of how the council is managing the problem. I’m delighted that someone with the independence and expertise that Joanna Kennedy brings would lead that review to ensure Westminster protects some of its most vulnerable residents.”


Notes

This policy announcement relates to statutory homelessness, new announcements on rough sleeping will be announced shortly.

The Conservative Council’s Strategy introduced last year created three priority categories:  Band 1 for those with significant care needs should be housed in or near Westminster; Band 2 for those in long-term work or with children taking major exams can be housed elsewhere in greater London and Band 3 who can potentially be housed elsewhere in the country. While in practice Council officers have so far showed some flexibility to allow more people to remain in Greater London, the policy continues to carry real risks.


Westminster Labour call for action on off-shore ownership that harms local communities and shames our city

Image of One Hyde Park housing

A shocking one-in-ten properties in Westminster is owned through an off-shore company, with the identity of who controls many of them currently unknown. This situation exacerbates the significant problem of housing under-occupation Westminster faces, where properties that previously housed local families are used only a few times a year by overseas investors. Such investment also plays a part in the, often under reported, ownership of empty homes in the City.

Labour will push for the Conservative Government to finally deliver on its long overdue pledge (originally supposed to start June 2016 now not due until 2021) to provide a proper register of overseas beneficial ownership to help limit the acquisition of Westminster’s homes by offshore companies on behalf of the world’s oligarchs. A Labour-led council would work with civil society to shine a light on such dodgy practices and work to stem the flow of dirty money into Westminster’s property market that brings shame to our city.

We will campaign for greater transparency over the ownership of empty homes and we would use the proceeds of the ‘Empty Property Premium’ to council tax to pay for a dedicated empty homes officer, while lobbying central Government to increase the rate of this tax on homes left unused.

***Update*** Westminster Labour warmly welcomes the Treasury Select Committee's Economic Crime Inquiry. If elected on May 3rd a Labour led Westminster Council would work with the committee, as well as with the National Crime Agency and other organisations over the development and implementation of unexplained wealth orders to help tackle the dirty money that is hollowing out a number of communities in Westminster. ***

Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Parts of Westminster have become an oligarch’s piggy bank with homes in a number of areas left deserted for months on end. Change is needed more than ever to preserve the vibrancy of our local communities and end the shame of Westminster being used to hide the money of those complicit in human rights abuses around the world.

Action on oligarch owned property must form part of an effective UK response to Russia in the wake of the shocking Skripal poisoning. A Labour Council would be delighted to work to see how the proceeds of such sanctions could help tackle the local housing crisis.”