LAMBETH COUNCIL’S Cabinet approved ‘key guarantees’ and the associated adverse impact on human rights, under article 1 protocol 1 of the ECHR, Artticle 8 and Equality Act2010.

 

 

Summary

The Secretary of states’ ruling re: Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Section 226(1) (a), Acquisition of Land Act 1981 The London Borough of Southwark (Aylesbury Estate Site 1B-1C) Compulsory Purchase Order 2014 (‘the Order’)

  1. In his ruling, which is attached in full, and summarised below, the secretary of state, Savid Javid says‘, the reasons appear to fall into three categories.
  • insufficient negotiation with remaining leaseholders: Southwark Council had not taken reasonable steps to acquire land interests by agreement;
  • there would be considerable economic, social and environmental dis-benefits for the leaseholders who would remain on the land;
  • Interference with the human rights of those with an interest in the relevant land was not sufficiently justified’.
  1. It’s clear, that these points are identical to the situation in Lambeth and there is nothing in the Cabinet approved ‘Key guarantees’ that addressed them contrary to claims made by Council officers, such as Neil Vokes. See more details below.
  1. The secretary of state goes on to state that (verbatim)’ …Moreover, the Secretary of State has carefully considered whether the purposes. For which the compulsory purchase order was made sufficiently justify interfering with

The human rights of the lessees under section 12(2A) of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 and he is not satisfied that such interference is justified. In particular he has considered the provisions of Article 1 of the First Protocol to, and Article 8 of, the European Convention on Human Rights.

In this respect, the Secretary of State does not consider that the order is justified or proportionate between the public interest and interests of the residents. The Secretary of State has also had due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty in considering whether to confirm the Order.

The Secretary of State has given careful consideration to the Inspector’s Report

And the submissions of the parties. He agrees with the Inspector (IR415-423) that a compelling case in the public interest for confirming the order has not been made. Whilst he considers that this Order should not be confirmed, for the reasons above, the Secretary of State in principle welcomes regeneration and much needed residential development.

He also considers that the Council’s desired outcome could in principle bring with it considerable benefits.

He considers that potentially there is a good opportunity for the Council to work positively with the remaining leaseholders to alleviate the negative aspects he has highlighted above with a view to resubmitting an Order in due course to achieve successfully the objectives set out in the planning framework.

The Secretary of State has therefore decided to accept the Inspector’s recommendation not to confirm The London Borough of Southwark (Aylesbury Estate Site 1B – 1C) Compulsory Purchase Order 2014’

Comment and observation in relation to Lambeth’s cabinet approved ‘Key guarantees’

  1. The key guarantees, presented to cabinet on the 23 March 2017, do not guarantee that residents will not be forced out if their homes due to increased housing costs or Lambeth council manufactured financial hardship or exploitation, in the immediate and short term. Contrary to the claims made by Neil Vokes, stating that ‘this (Lambeth) is different to Southwark’. Without any elaboration or specific evidence.
  2. Tenants will face more housing costs and appear to be subject to means testing. Whether or not they can afford to live in the new properties as well as the change of their tenancy. Which takes them from a secure affordable tenancy to an insecure, costly and means tested criteria or existence.
  3. For leaseholders, there is nothing in the Key guarantees that states that residents will be compensated an amount that allows them to buy a similar property in Lambeth.
  4. Which means that they have to either move away or accept the shared ownership offered (which they are not obligated to do) which financially exploits or detrimentally affects them. Because they have to put together the acquired equity in the home, compensation and disbursement towards a share of the ‘new home’.
  5. This also removes their outright ownership of a property/subject to a mortgage and the legal impediments associated with the new leases/share ownership.
  6. Which therefore does not address the consequential associated human rights breaches? Namely: the right to family life ,infringement of the peaceful and quite enjoyment of residents’ homes, right to community, right to culture detrimental effects on the children, elderly financial hardships/’detriments and dislocation of the existing community.
  7. Cumulatively, all the issues above, mean that people whether tenants or Leaseholders will inevitably be displaced, dispossessed and disenfranchised. Which leads to the conclusion that this what the council perhaps ultimately wants.
  8. That is to say, to move this specific existing ‘demography’ (communities) off the valuable land in Lambeth and build luxury flats for overseas investors and a ‘different demography’.

Brief Background

  1. Six months ago, on or around the 18th October 2016, and on or around the 17th March again around the 20th/21st of March 2017, respectively, these human rights concerns were communicated to Sue Foster (https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=3560).
  2. In relation to the issues raised by the Secretary of State, in the above identical or similar case in Southwark. Specifically in relation to the associated human right violations, in Lambeth and the suggested remedial compensation criteria put forward by the Sajid Javid. And requested that she replies before the 23rd cabinet meeting.
  3. Sue Foster, who we understand to be the supervisor of this programme, referred the issue to Neil Vokes(her Junior) I followed this up with a specific written comments to that effect again asking her to respond. Included were the three local lambeth MPs, Sean Harriss (CEO), Legal Director, Lib Peck (the Council leader) et al.
  4. As stated, at the 23rd March 2017 cabinet meeting, there was neither a response to the specific repeated written requests prior to the meeting nor has there been one since then.
  5. Prior to this, the record will show, that on or around 10th February 2016, Neil Vokes, of Lambeth estate demolition department, Stated that there is ‘a human cost to regeneration’ or words to that effect. In an answer to similar human rights related concerns put to him. This was in a meeting of residents at Heathbrook primary school, sw8, St Rule Street. The meeting was between 6 and 9pm.

Other specific concerns about the ‘Key Guarantees’

  • Are the ‘key guarantees’ guaranteed, principles, mechanisms or aspirations?
  • Are they legally binding?
  • There was a grant of further discretionary powers to specific officers. This opens door to inherent unfair or favourable treatment and potential mismanagement of public resources.
  1. For example, residents on Westbury have stated that a specific officer was ‘promising gardens’ to specific residents and ‘making repairs to a leaseholder’s home’. During the initial stages of this process. This was reported to the leadership.
  2. So what would happen if more unfettered or unchecked power and discretion, is given to officers to determine peoples’ future, essentially based on how they feel about the particular person concerned? Especially, those individuals, such as the respective residents’ representatives, across the borough who have been visible and at the forefront of holding Lambeth to account?

Associated Human rights issues: Under Article 1 of the first protocol; European of convention of Human rights, Article 8; and Equality act 2010 requirements.

  • No Equality impact assessment has been done. See .7.1(council report) appears to state. Julian Hart appeared to admit that they did not do this during the cabinet meeting of the 23.03.2017.
  • No indication that s149 Equality act 2010 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-sector-equality-duty), has been satisfied or met.
  • And the same applies to S 12/ (2) of acquisition of lands act 1981 are being or have been satisfied.
  1. As stated in the Secretary of state’s letter (re Aylesbury decision), overall, concerns of the interference with the human rights of those with an interest in the relevant land’.
    1. peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their homes
    2. right to family life
    3. right to culture
    4. disruption in employment
    5. Loss of support networks
    6. Dis benefits to the economic, social and environmental interests of residents
  • Valuation or compensation promised, would not enable the leaseholders/residents to purchase a similar property on the open market in the locality.’
  • Increased costs would make the properties unaffordable such as the increase in rent, and utilities tied to single providers and water meters installed. As well as service charges.
  • The curtailment on the right of succession for all residents irrespective of status interferes with residents private lives.
  • Options offered would force residents (leaseholders) to move out of the area or use their savings, equity and compensation just to get a share of the new property. And therefore, destroying any financial security for families and create financial hardship.
  • Therefore, compensation should allow residents to buy on the open market in the same locality (Lambeth), as spelled out by the secretary of state in the Southwark case, above.
  • In the key cabinet approved key guarantees, there is no overall compensation that allows people to buy in the open market in the locality must be the criteria.
  • The council is the sole buyer under compulsory purchase. There is no competition and the properties are under a demolition notice. And residents have to sell and move in very restrained timelines.
  • How different is the situation in Southwark in the context of the Secretary of state’s ruling?
  • Could Mr Vokes and Sue Foster specifically indicate where in the key guarantees, the compensation provided will allow residents to buy a similar property in the locality?
  • No guarantees of the components of the right to community.
  • No proof of satisfaction of a ‘Public sector duty where individuals are affected by a CPO (the article 8 right to a home specifically).
  • Shared ownership which is the option open to residents does not satisfy this requirement.
  • The elderly and black and ethnic minority residents would find their cultural life “likely to be disproportionately affected” by the CPO/demolition, which would have a negative impact on their ability to retain their cultural ties’.
  • And the inter-generational consequences of the “dislocation from family life” and the community.
  • The potential to harm the education of affected children and the life-long impact to their lives and employment opportunities.
  • The Runnymede Trust, has issued a report, citing Lambeth with the highest social and racial inequality in England and Wales. Undoubtedly, demolishing hundreds if not thousands of homes across the Borough, at such a rapid scale with the associated detrimental effects on communities and individuals will worsen inequality.
  • The executive summary of the Runnymede trust among other points, states, that, ‘For example, is Lambeth’s higher relative ranking of ethnic inequalities in 2011 compared to 2001 due to ethnic minorities doing worse, or because better-off White British residents have moved in during this period? The issue of ‘gentrification’ or of local people being excluded from housing regeneration, new business opportunities or indeed new cafés, pubs or forms of leisure, is familiar north and south of the river, from Hackney and Haringey to Lambeth and Greenwich. Local planners and politicians need to do more to ensure the benefits of regeneration or gentrification flow to all of a borough’s residents.

(http://www.runnymedetrust.org/news/638/272/Londons-Housing-Crisis-Worse-for-Ethnic-Minorities.html)

Leaseholders

  1. There will be considerable economic, social and environmental dis-benefits for the leaseholders who would remain on the land. As clearly stated by the secretary of state re: Southwark.
  2. Given that they would have to give up any equity, compensation, disbursement payments and any saving to simply afford a share of the same or similar property.
  3. And will still be indebted to Lambeth for the rest of the share in the home. Consigning them to a life and future of subservience and financial exploitation by Lambeth council. This promotes inter-generational hindrance to social mobility to individuals, families and the community at large.
  4. A family member that has lived with a resident for less than 12 months is not part of re-housing. A failure to do so interferes with the right to family and/or community. ‘The key guarantee referring to the shared ownership seems to state that all current lease holders living on the estate can buy a new property as a shared owner with Lambeth.

Other observations by other concerned parties repeated verbatim below:

  • The sub clauses states that transferring shared ownership properties to someone NOT living with the owner for a year is NOT permissible. This clause applies to the Shared Ownership of properties only, which, it seems will affect any leaseholder currently living on the estate and wanting to stay on the estate. As they will all fall into the shared ownership category. Mainly because of Lambeth’s low values on the current properties and extraordinarily high future homes.
  • The permitted transfer for shared ownership properties will be written into the new leases, this section of the leases should be challenged by every leaseholder form ALL the Lambeth estates.
  • On another point with regard to shared ownership, after regeneration leaseholders housed under shared ownership will have to pay ALL service charges regardless of percentage owned by them’.
  • Would this also apply to any major works carried out later on the new properties?’

Transparency, management and financial issues relating to Homes for Lambeth

  1. No disclosure of financial or contractual agreements between council and private contractors or developers. See consequences of lack of disclosure and transparency in Lewisham.
  2. Homes for Lambeth –There are serious governing issues, compliance with company law and conflict of interests regarding who the directors are? Disinterested or not? Will Cllr Bennett be the director or a director? If so what was the process of his or suggested appointment?
  3. Doesn’t that reflect a conflict of interests and stifles any transparency given the obvious intertwined political interests?
  4. Appears to be misleading to say that Homes for Lambeth is owned 100 percent by Lambeth, when there are subsidiaries for investment and property development able to borrow on open market, such as private equity. Does that mean they have a stake in ‘Homes for Lambeth’? And what are the financial and legal implications?
  5. What happens if investors/ creditors sell, transfer, divest or assign their interests to third parties, offshore issues, foreign investors etc. And the spiral consequences to residents living in the homes.
  6. Are there regulatory controls and supervision under financial conduct authority? Given the subsidiary companies being investors or developer?
  7. What is the security of the investment or loans from the private investors such as private equity? Council homes or council land?
  8. What happens if there is market failure, financial difficulties by the private investors? What is the effect on people’s homes in case of default, financial difficulties or market failure?

Therefore:

  1. The key guarantees, presented to cabinet on the 23 March 2017, do not guarantee that residents will not be forced out of their homes due to increased housing cost or Lambeth council created financial hardship or exploitation, in the immediate and short term.
  2. Neil Vokes indicated that , ‘this (meaning Lambeth council) is different to Southwark’. Or similar words to that effect. At this cabinet meeting. As the minutes should show. Without any elaboration or specific evidence. https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=9757 (cabinet meeting)https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=113&MId=10237&Ver=4
  3. Tenants will face more housing costs and appear to be subject to means testing. Whether or not they can afford to live in the new properties as well as the change of their tenancy.
  4. For leaseholders, there is nothing in the Key guarantees that states that residents will be compensated an amount that allows them to buy a similar property in Lambeth
  5. Which means that they have to either move away or accept the shared ownership offered (which they are not obligated to do) which financially exploits or detrimentally affects them. As more aptly put by the Secretary of State in his Similar Southwark decision, above.
  6. Because residents have to put together the acquired equity in the home, compensation and disbursement towards just a share of the ‘new home’.
  7. This also removes their outright ownership of a property/subject to a mortgage and the legal impediments associated with the new leases/share ownership.
  8. This therefore does not appear to address the consequential associated human rights breaches.
  9. Namely: the right to family life ,infringement of the peaceful and quite enjoyment of residents’ homes, right to community, right to culture detrimental effects on the children, elderly financial hardships/detriments and dislocation of the existing community.
  10. Cumulatively, all the points above mean that people whether tenants or Leaseholders will inevitably be displaced, dispossessed, exploited and disenfranchised. Which leads to the conclusion that this what the council perhaps ultimately wants.
  11. That is to say, to move this specific existing ‘social demography’ (communities) off the valuable land in Lambeth and build luxury flats for overseas investors and a ‘different demography’.
  12. Nothing in the Key guarantees approved by the cabinet on the 23rd of March 2017, addresses these critical, intergenerational life changing detriments which have inflicted severe emotional distress, on residents, by Lambeth council over the last few years. As evidenced by the testimony of residents on the 23rd March 2017 at the cabinet meeting.

Despite repeated written requests to the senior leadership and further comments at the same cabinet meeting, no response has been received from Sue Foster or any senior person from Lambeth Council, since then.

 

RA and Clapham Leaseholder’ forum /Co-chair Leaseholder’s Council

 

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