Friday, April 04, 2008

Southwark Housing in Crisis

Southwark's Housing Department is in crisis. Only this week one of the most senior managers in the Department has resigned, leaving the dangerous wreckage from the latest 're-structuring' in an even more perilous position.

So it was appropriate that Labour brought a motion to Council Assembly on Wednesday calling on Cllr Kim Humphreys; the Dulwich Tory in charge of Southwark's housing; to resign. A superb speech from Labour's Paul Bates left the Administration reeling as he catalogued Cllr Humphrey's failures - from the latest disastrous restructuring, which has seen the Council sack experienced staff only to rehire them as agency workers at twice the cost to the Council Tax payer; via the £300 million 'black hole' in housing repairs; to the recent judgement from the Audit Commission that our Housing Management system is failing and worthy of only one star out of four.

Only Council Leader Stanton and Tory Chief Whip Lewis Robinson were prepared to speak in defence of Cllr Humphreys, and in the case of Cllr Robinson it was clear that he was 'only obeying orders' as he put up a rather perfunctory defence of his boss.

In typical weak fashion not a single Liberal Democrat councillor got up to raise a single concern about the state of the housing department. It really is pathetic when a political group sells out so completely and utterly that they are unable to speak against their political opponents; in this case the Tories; for fear that they might lose one of their Special Responsibility Allowances. It really is the case that the LibDems no longer represent the interests of their constituents, but only represent the interests of themselves and their Tory mates.

But I suppose that so long as they can keep pocketing their cash why should they care if half of the borough's residents are left with a housing service which is in chaos? Who cares anyway? Well, myself and my Labour Group colleagues certainly do, and we will keep doing so until Southwark's tenants and leaseholders have the efficient and reliable service which they deserve.

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