Local Elections – Parties’ Manifestos

Introduction
In this one-off local election special we focus on leasehold issues.  We have used the information published on local websites, trimmed for space reasons if necessary; those that haven’t published any manifesto aren’t included.  For the full list of candidates please see this link.

Haven’t received any details about where to vote?  Call Camden Council’s election office helpline on 020 7974 6000 or email them at electorial.services@camden.gov.uk for all the details.

Any questions for the political parties (including those submitted to us last month)?  The Candidate Hustings are for you – see below for more details!

In this edition: (in order of current number of council seats)
– Labour manifesto
– Liberal Democrats manifesto
– Conservative manifesto
– Green manifesto
– TUSC manifesto
– Candidate Hustings
– Next meeting and Leaseholders’ Forum AGM
 

Labour manifesto for the Camden Council local elections 2014
Click here for the local Labour manifesto.
“When Labour took control of the council, services to leaseholders were in a mess.

Sorting this out will take time. Camden Labour has held two public investigations into leaseholder issues, and as a result we appointed a new head of leaseholder services. We have also introduced a Leaseholder Action Plan to drive down costs, and make charges fully transparent. We plan to set up a leaseholder commission to continue much-needed reform of the service.

Similarly, we inherited a repairs service which was not fit for purpose. We have worked hard to make improvements to ensure repairs are timely and good quality. This work is ongoing. We have installed 173 lifts and set up the Gospel Oak Heat Network, providing 50% of the heat for 1,449 homes. This network lowers both our carbon emissions and fuel bills for tenants.

We will improve repairs for council housing to get the best value for tenants and leaseholders.”
 

Lib Dem manifesto for the Camden Council local elections 2014
Click here for the local Lib Dem manifesto.
“We would give leaseholders and tenants more say over housing services and contractors to keep bills down and introduce a Leaseholders’ Charter.

The Borough’s tenants and leaseholders are currently receiving a second (if not third) rate service from Camden’s Housing department. In spite of all the promises from Labour Councillors, repairs are still not “right first time” and tenants who report faulty repairs are often mistrusted, disbelieved or ignored. We believe that tenants and leaseholders alike should have more say in the delivery of housing services. Camden tenants’ rents have seen steep rises under the Labour administration with no improvement in services.

We support an active role for tenants and residents associations, combined with new and more imaginative approaches to consultation.

Camden’s leaseholders have long received second class treatment. We believe that there should be a new deal for Camden leaseholders, with a leaseholders’ charter including the right to manage their properties by appointing management agents and a power of veto over contractors.

We will:
• reform the Council’s approach to estate regeneration, reducing the expenditure on consultants and properly engaging with residents
• review arrangements for the performance and supervision of repairs and maintenance contracts and take action where contractors fail to deliver
• introduce a leaseholders’ charter”
 

Conservative Party manifesto for the Camden Council local elections 2014
Click here for the local Conservative manifesto.
“Camden Labour hasn’t done enough to tackle inefficiency in council operations, manage contracts, hold staff to account when mistakes are made, or take responsibility for their choices. They’re not putting residents first.

We want to introduce a system, more like the Committee System, that will ensure that all councillors are able to discuss issues, share the views of the people that they represent and to really make sure that the time spent in meetings focuses on local people and their needs.

Ensure tenants and leaseholders get a fair deal by making our housing and repairs services more efficient.

Coming into power in 2010, Labour overturned the existing council policy of selling off hard-to-let properties to fund much-needed repairs.  This immediately created a black hole in our budget. Since them, they have concentrated on raising rents and borrowing money to cover the shortfall.

People from all across the borough tell us that housing systems in Camden are not working well enough and that the repairs contracts don’t seem to be properly managed. Repairs are often hard to get and it can take several visits before the problem is finally fixed.

All across Camden, our Council tenants and leaseholders are worried about the state of their heating and hot water installations.

Also, many of our leaseholders tell us that they don’t think they’re treated fairly.  Camden needs to manage its stock better, value both tenant and lease-holder occupants, and carry out timely high-quality repairs.

Camden Conservatives will:
• Introduce a root-and-branch change in how maintenance and repairs are managed in Camden
• Reduce the cost and time it takes for repair to be completed, ensure repairs are more responsive with better quality of service, pass on resulting savings to tenants and leaseholders, and make final payments only when work has been signed off
• Use competitive tenders and experienced officers to specify repairs
• Use officers and tenants and/or leaseholders to check that work has been done and to a high standard
• Sell freeholds of street properties that have over 50% leaseholders in them
• Where possible, encourage the setting up of Residents (tenants & leaseholders) Management Organisations to deal with small to mid-sized repairs and maintenance, thus forcing cost-savings from builders
• Review how tenant participation works, cutting the amount of red tape an estate’s residents’ association needs to get through to get its repairs and maintenance work”
 

Green Party manifesto for the Camden Council local elections 2014
Click here for the local Greenmanifesto.

“Under our plan, clauses in all contracts for private sales on council-controlled land would mean leaseholders must use the home as their main residence.

Labour in Camden have proposed a 200% council tax levy on ‘buy to leave’ homes that are simply kept empty or used as occasional second homes, rather than for people who will live as Camden residents. The Greens support this but don’t believe these financial penalties are enough on land where the Council has more power.

Primarily we want as many new homes as possible on Council land to be for secure social housing. Selling existing property to pay for Decent Homes works is effectively selling the family silver, and the current council’s policy for new developments to include large numbers of private sales to reduce the cost of new social homes is hardly better, but would be improved with the Green’s proposal.

Our policy would affect private sales by the Council in the borough and would not only address empty homes but also those that are bought on the buy to let market. By doing so we would bring down prices as there would be fewer buyers, and would start addressing some of the speculation in the housing sector in our area.

Councillor Maya de Souza says:
“Private sales by the Council should only go to people who wish to live here and be part of our community. Financial penalties for ‘buy to leave’ speculators are right. However, the Council can and should do more by taking these homes out of the buy to let market to make it easier for people to buy their own homes, whilst also outlawing the practice of buying precious London housing as a second home.”

Other new policies in the Greens’ housing strategy “Housing for All” would:
• Promote new ways to live in and manage our homes, which more closely involve the community and help families stay close together as their needs change – co-operatively managed housing and innovative co-housing models would be prioritised.
• Promote great design and energy-saving standards – keeping Camden at the forefront of architectural innovation and excellence.
• Keep down waste and inefficiency in management of Council homes, so that fewer new homes need to be sold off and less well-off leaseholders can stay in the area – tendering smaller contracts will help local firms compete, keep work competitive and boost the local economy.”
 

TUSC Party manifesto for the Camden Council local elections 2014
This was sent to us by email.

“The Council should be there to represent its residents first and the businesses in the area. This means working for you. Cuts to funding are having a drastic effect on spending that has disproportionately affected Camden. Services have been cut to meet this budget and we have lost valuable services as a result. TUSC is anti cuts to services, and pro-fair treatment of the public.

• Push for proper maintenance of current council housing stock (push for a company that is sensitive to occupant needs/desires and able to provide quality for money). This includes both for tenants and leaseholders.
• Work with tenants and lease holders to improve energy efficient improvements affordably and to good standard.”
 

Candidate Hustings
Representatives of parties fighting the Camden Council local elections will be present to state their case and answer questions from the general public, with the meeting chaired by Eric Gordon, editor of the Camden New Journal.

Date: 6.30pm, Tuesday, 13th May
Venue: Clarence Hall (behind Quinn’s Pub), Hawley Road, Kentish Town/Camden Town, NW1 8RN.
 

Next meeting and Leaseholders’ Forum AGM
The next regular meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 20th May at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE.

The next open meeting and AGM will be on will be 17th June – all are welcome.
 

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: http://www.leaseholders.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.  You can also adjust your own preferences by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council.  We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

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This is the official Camden Leaseholders' Forum account. Why not come along to one of our meetings to see us in the flesh? Alternatively email camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk if you want to get in contact or, best yet, post to the Discussion Board and then you will not only hear from us, but also you fellow residents too, who have their own stories to tell and answers to give...