Leeds Council Leader Judith Blake – how cities can make UK fairer & stronger

Leeds is a member of the Core Cities group. Today they have launched a Green paper. Cities are capable, ready and willing to help the UK become a fairer and stronger place. The Green paper sets out how – and calls on government to help and support their efforts. You can read more about it … Continue reading Leeds Council Leader Judith Blake – how cities can make UK fairer & stronger

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Why Leeds is not Kensington – Headingley’s Neil Walshaw on Council response to tragedy

The news has been dominated over these last weeks by the Grenfell Tower tragedy – and rightly so. The dreadful fire itself and its causes, the care and treatment of survivors, the responses of government and of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council – all these raise questions which are of urgent and wider public concern. … Continue reading Why Leeds is not Kensington – Headingley’s Neil Walshaw on Council response to tragedy

Tenants and the homeless must not be made to pay for the tower block fire safety crisis

This blog, from Labour Housing Group, which is affiliated to the Labour Party, is an important read.
Its last paragraphs make clear the potential knock on effect on housing need of government response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
“The numbers matter. Unless extra social housing is provided in total then the people who will actually pay for this crisis will be those homeless families or people on the housing waiting list who will not be rehoused as a consequence. One way round this would be government to fund the purchase of an equivalent number of homes on the open market – as happened in the early 1990s to mitigate the housing market slump.

Theresa May was as slippery as can be when challenged about how the works to blocks like Grenfell will be paid for. It could be hundreds of millions. This should be a central government commitment, a new fund provided by the whole country to avoid another tragedy. May wouldn’t commit, just saying it will be done. What is most likely is that government will allow councils to borrow more to pay for the works, with the cost falling to the housing revenue account. And there’s the rub: unless there is specific subsidy or grant, extra borrowing on the HRA will be funded in the long term by tenants through their rents. Tenants will pay for a fire safety crisis that is not of their making.

It is absolutely right that the victims of the fire should have top priority and should be rehoused as quickly as possible. No-one will disagree that similar panels should be stripped from other blocks. No-one will object to an extensive programme of fire safety improvements, including for example sprinklers, in all towers currently without them. But, whoever is found to be responsible, it is not right that the actual burden of putting things right should fall on existing tenants and homeless people waiting for a home. Central government should foot the bill, sharing the load. That’s why we all pay taxes.”

Red Brick

I have found it hard to comment on the Grenfell Tower disaster. Words cannot convey the horror of it, and everything I tried to write felt hopelessly inadequate. Others succeeded where I failed, and I would recommend thoughtful pieces penned by Chris Creegan, Municipal Dreams, and Giles Peaker amongst others.

I was so angry at the ineptitude of the council’s and the government’s response and so in awe of the magnificent response of the emergency services and the local community. They are in total contrast to each other.

grenfell

pic: Metropolitan Police

I was also stunned that within hours some people started to use the fire to attack social housing. One tweeter said: ‘The nature + quality of social housing is probably the single biggest post-war British policy failure’ and there were plenty of a similar ilk. Others reverted to well-worn dystopian myths and Clockwork Orange imagery about council…

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New Leeds NW MP Alex Sobel today met residents of Hi-Rise block

Today Alex Sobel was out with his team to visit the Hi-Rise Block in the constituency, and to speak to residents about any concerns they had. Alex says: "I have spoken to Leeds City Council and they reassured me of the seriousness with which fire safety in our blocks is treated. A daily inspection is … Continue reading New Leeds NW MP Alex Sobel today met residents of Hi-Rise block

Council reassures tenants of Leeds’ highrise blocks – cladding used is fire-retardant

The devastating fire at Grenfell highrise flats in London earlier this week has shocked the country. A recent refurbishment – with flammable cladding – has been implicated in the disaster. Inevitably, fears have arisen about similar blocks, and similar refurbishments elsewhere. Leeds City Council has reassured its tenants that the cladding used here is fire … Continue reading Council reassures tenants of Leeds’ highrise blocks – cladding used is fire-retardant

Insecurity: theme of Leeds NW Labour’s guided political discussions. Report and future meetings

The second guided political discussion hosted by the Leeds North West Labour Party was – once again – very successful. Thanks to all members who attended. Special thanks to Dr Charlie Dannreuther from the University of Leeds for delivering another thoroughly interesting and informative talk - on Insecurity. These are great opportunities for informed and … Continue reading Insecurity: theme of Leeds NW Labour’s guided political discussions. Report and future meetings

Leeds Council’s flagship extra care housing in Yeadon shortlisted for award

Last December the multi-million pound, extra care housing scheme, Wharfedale View in Yeadon, was completed. Last Friday it was officially opened by Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council. The development – a mix of apartments for rent, for sale with shared ownership – is a flagship scheme, a first of its kind. It … Continue reading Leeds Council’s flagship extra care housing in Yeadon shortlisted for award

Thurs 26 Jan – Join Headingley and Weetwood Labour Parties to discuss housing solutions locally and nationally

What would a socially just and sustainable housing policy look like? That’s a central question we’ll be discussing at a public meeting with Prof Paul Chatterton (University of Leeds) Thurs 26 January, 7-9 p.m., The New Headingley Club, 56, St Michael’s Lane. We’ll be considering the current crisis in housing and possible ways forward - … Continue reading Thurs 26 Jan – Join Headingley and Weetwood Labour Parties to discuss housing solutions locally and nationally

Leeds Labour calls for greater local control over planning – in interests of Leeds communities

Wednesday 9 November was a Full Council meeting in Leeds. Housing, housing growth & sites were on the agenda. The problems produced by the National Planning Policy Framework will be very familiar to regular readers of this website - in particular the effective reduction in local control over planning decisions, and the extent to which … Continue reading Leeds Labour calls for greater local control over planning – in interests of Leeds communities

More on Housing Policy from Labour’s Redbrick blog

'Looming over the whole of the housing budget, especially those parts that have yet to come on-stream, is of course the referendum result and its likely effects both on the public finances and on the housing market itself. Brandon Lewis would have been received more warmly at this week’s Housing 2016 conference in Manchester if … Continue reading More on Housing Policy from Labour’s Redbrick blog