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

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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Leeds Labour Council set to secure deal for Headingley Carnegie Stadium redevelopment

Thanks to the efforts of Leeds Labour-led Council investment has been found to redevelop Headingley Carnegie Stadium. The Council has brokered an agreement which will provide the funds that are required. The stadium is home to Leeds Rhinos rugby league team and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union club, as well as main home ground of Yorkshire … Continue reading Leeds Labour Council set to secure deal for Headingley Carnegie Stadium redevelopment

Leeds Labour Council Leader Judith Blake seeks answers from PM: on Social Care funding, and Surrey’s ‘arrangements’

The Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA Prime Minister, We are writing regarding funding arrangements for Conservative-run Surrey County Council. Specifically, the alleged reason behind David Hodge’s decision to drop a planned referendum on increasing council tax by 15 per cent to cover the severe shortfalls in social care, after apparently holding ‘several … Continue reading Leeds Labour Council Leader Judith Blake seeks answers from PM: on Social Care funding, and Surrey’s ‘arrangements’

1% on Leeds Council tax to fund adult social care needs only ‘temporary fix’, as Judith Blake keeps pressure on government

The government has failed to tackle the crisis in funding of adult social care centrally. Instead, it has passed the cost on to hard-pressed councils – whose own funding squeeze was at the heart of problems around social care in the first place! In these circumstances, a proposal is on the table to increase Leeds … Continue reading 1% on Leeds Council tax to fund adult social care needs only ‘temporary fix’, as Judith Blake keeps pressure on government

Leeds Council Tax is rising – to plug part of yawning gap in Adult Social Care funding

Leeds City Council announced its budget plans last week. This includes a proposed 3.99% council tax rise. Given the current squeeze on incomes, that rise was proposed with the greatest reluctance – and was forced on the Council by continued central government cuts to the grant given to Leeds. 2% of the rise is specifically … Continue reading Leeds Council Tax is rising – to plug part of yawning gap in Adult Social Care funding

Leeds Council job losses held to 800 – in spite of continuing savage Government cuts.

This week has seen Leeds City Council announce its budgetary plans. We’ll be covering aspects of this in more posts. The context for everything is the continued vicious squeeze on Council budgets by Central Government – beginning back under the LibDem/Tory Coalition in 2010, and continuing ever since. 50% of central government funding has already … Continue reading Leeds Council job losses held to 800 – in spite of continuing savage Government cuts.

Leeds ‪Council Leader Judith Blake: We’ll keep pushing for mass transit scheme for Leeds‬

Over the last couple of days there have been major announcements about the immediate future of transport in Leeds - £270 million investment over the next four years - including £180 million investment in bus travel - and new rail plans – which will involve a Park and Ride station on the Leeds/Harrogate line to … Continue reading Leeds ‪Council Leader Judith Blake: We’ll keep pushing for mass transit scheme for Leeds‬

Gold, Bronze – and Leeds Pet Champions are National Innovators: Council wins three times over in RSPCA awards

Leeds Labour Council has won three of the RSPCA’s Community Animal Welfare Footprint awards. First the Council won Gold in the Housing category, and its Dog Warden service and Resilience and Emergencies Team won bronze in the Contingency category. And it’s now been announced that Housing Leeds has also won one of the prestigious Innovator … Continue reading Gold, Bronze – and Leeds Pet Champions are National Innovators: Council wins three times over in RSPCA awards