LIB DEMS CALL FOR LABOUR HOUSING MEMBER TO RESIGN

Haringey’s Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for the resignation of Councillor Isidoros Diakides, Labour’s Executive Member for Housing, following a damning Audit Commission report into Haringey’s ability to deal with homelessness and overcrowding. The Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion ensuring that the Full Council will hold a vote of confidence in Councillor Diakedes.

The Audit Commission report exposes that many residents may have been wrongly refused rehousing, and that Haringey Council’s housing allocations policy itself is “not helping to prevent homelessness or alleviate overcrowding among tenants.”

It goes on: “mistakes in assessing housing needs are common… [The housing register] has not been reviewed since 2001, except for a few applicants with the highest priority, so is likely in many instances to be inaccurate.” Many residents are furious that mistakes have been made in assessing the number of points that they have on the housing waiting list, and are asking whether they should have been rehoused years ago.

As Lib Dem councillors sitting on a scrutiny panel look further into the scandal, a picture is emerging of a total lack of leadership from Cllr Diakides. The report explains that the housing allocations service is “poor and has many weaknesses. The [allocations] policy is out of date and not complying with legislation…The policy document has been reviewed twice since 2000, but changes have neither been formally approved nor implemented.”

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing Councillor Catherine Harris comments:

“Labour’s total lack of direction and leadership are the reasons behind this terrible state of affairs, and the housing service needs a fresh start. People will be furious at the discovery that the housing register has not been kept properly – some tenants have been waiting in so-called “temporary” accommodation for many years. They will not be pleased to hear that they may have been entitled to be rehoused years ago.

“Worse still, the fact that Labour councillors have known about the terrible problems for years without taking concerted action to put things right shows how little ability Labour have to manage this borough. Labour will claim that they are now fixing the problems, but it is being done far, far too late for the tenants whom they are supposed to serve.”

Councillor Neil Williams, Leader of the Lib Dem Opposition, comments:

“Once again, Labour have failed the people of Haringey. It has provided for years a housing service which is flawed, unfair, complex and expensive. People will rightly be asking who is to blame, and it is very clear that Labour has failed in its responsibility to its tenants. ”

Note: the text of the motion is:

This Council wishes to express its concern at the recent criticisms of the Council’s allocations policy, which have come from both the Audit Commission and the Council’s own Cross-Party Scrutiny Review.

Council notes:

·That as long ago as 2000 the Housing Service was made aware that it was operating an unlawful and discriminatory lettings policy.
·That 24000 families are currently on the housing register of whom 5800 are in temporary accommodation; Government targets will force the Council to reduce this by 50% by 2010.
·Applicants for permanent housing and transfers have been told that points may have been wrongly calculated and will have to re-register their details.
·This crisis in the Housing Service threatens the Council’s plans to obtain £238m of funding from the Government for housing improvements and may jeopardise attaining the Decent Homes Standard.

In view of these serious failings Council calls on the Lead Member for Housing to resign and for the Council to arrange independent oversight of the allocations system and housing register, so that no applicant for housing or existing tenant suffers discrimination or disadvantage as a result of the mismanagement of the allocations system.

Proposer Cllr Neil Williams
Seconder Cllr Catherine Harris