Con-Dem no-show a poor show for Camden tenants

Tonight at Camden Town Hall, I attended one of the big set-piece meetings of the municipal calendar – the joint meeting of DMCs to discuss rent-setting and the HRA budget.*

Given the huge financial shortfalls we are facing – both in terms of revenue and capital spending – there were some pretty serious issues to discuss, including a proposed rent increase of 7.1%, a similar increase on service charges, proposals to cap heating charges and a plan to scrap District Housing Offices and provide light-touch ‘touchdown’ offices on estates and in other community buildings.

Plenty to chew over – and some radical plans needing good scrutiny.  So I was a bit taken aback that none of the Lib Dem or Tory councillor members of the committee which includes Kilburn, Hampstead DMC, turned up at tonight’s meeting.  

In fact, there wasn’t a single opposition councillor from anywhere in the borough at the Joint DMC – ready to support TRA reps as they ask questions of the officers and Cllr Julian Fulbrook, the Cabinet Member for housing who chaired the meeting.

In other parts of the borough there aren’t so many Lib Dem or Tory councillors.  But Hampstead DMC covers Fortune Green, West Hampstead, Frognal & Fitzjohns, Belsize, Swiss Cottage as well as Kilburn.  Plenty of Lib Dems and Tories there – as well as council estates in all these wards.

It’s tempting to take a political shot here.  Something along the lines of how the policies of the last administration in Camden and the current Government demonstrating all too readily what little regard the Tories and Lib Dems have for council tenants and leaseholders, so this should come as little surprise.

But in all seriousness, there was a representative deficit tonight, which impacted particularly on NW6.  DMCs are primarily there for TRAs, but councillors are members for a good reason.  

The fact that not a single Lib Dem or Tory councillor turned up was quite telling about the priority they attach to tenant participation. Oh, and for the record, there were ten Labour councillors present – each DMC had at least one Labour member in attendance. ‘Nuff said.

 

(*A bit of jargon busting here: DMC stands for District Management Committee, the forum for Tenants & Residents Associations on Camden estates. There are five in all, covering the borough – Hampstead, Gospel Oak, Camden Town, Kentish Town and Holborn. HRA is the Housing Revenue Account, the ring-fenced pot of money for Camden’s council housing.)

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