Lynne on special tour of super-green low carbon house in the heart of Hornsey

Lynne at the Passivhaus in HornseyTo see the future of low carbon housing, Lynne Featherstone MP on Friday visited a super–green refurbished Victorian terrace in the heart of Hornsey.

The previously fire-damaged property on Hawthorn Road, owned by Metropolitan Housing Trust, has been done up according to the Passivhaus model. With high levels of insulation, air-tightness and triple-glazing, the house will drastically cut its carbon footprint by using 80% less energy than its neighbours.

The home will need almost no extra heating, using solar gain from windows, people themselves, and their electrical goods, to keep warm. The house also has a heat-recovery system for fresh air in the winter without opening windows, and solar panels to heat 60% of the hot water.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“This warm, comfortable house has been done up beautifully, and is a great example of what can be done to cut energy in Haringey’s many Victorian properties.

“Many local residents really want to be green and cut their carbon-footprint, but don’t know where to start. I’m delighted that the Hawthorn Road house will stand as a shining example of how it can be done.

“I’m sure that Angela, the new tenant, will be very happy here. Well done to Metropolitan Housing and Anne Thorne, the architect, for doing such an amazing job!”

Local Liberal Democrats visit resident let down over housing repairs

The reality of Labour’s broken promise to install new kitchens, bathrooms and windows in all council homes by 2010 became clear this week when local Liberal Democrats met with a resident who will have to wait another two years until any work starts on her home.

Lynne Featherstone and Cllr Robert Gorrie visited Mrs Jethwa from Hutton Court in Stroud Green to see first-hand how her family had been let down by Labour-run Haringey Council. Mrs Jethwa was told by Labour in 2006 that her 25 year old bathroom and kitchen would be replaced by 2010 but in reality work will not start until 2012.

Despite promises that all council properties in the London Borough of Haringey would receive new kitchens, bathrooms and windows by 2010, recent figures suggest that Haringey Council has failed to even meet a quarter of the homes needing urgent work. Work on homes in Harringay, Bounds Green, Seven Sisters, Fortis Green, Crouch End and Alexandra wards haven’t started at all.

At the most recent Full Council meeting on 22nd March, Labour councillor John Bevan failed to apologise to tenants that had not had Decent Homes work completed on their homes.

Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, comments:

“Mrs Jethwa is only one of thousands of local residents who have been let down by Labour. They promised new kitchens, bathrooms and windows for all council houses, yet Mrs Jethwa’s home is a clear testament to that broken promise.”

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, adds:

“How can residents believe Labour in this election when most of the promises from last time have been broken?

“Labour has failed to start work on three quarters of council homes and that does not include homes in Harringay, Bounds Green, Seven Sisters, Fortis Green, Crouch End and Alexandra wards where they haven’t started at all.”

Squatters move in after Haringey Council fails to act on empty home

A family-sized home, left empty by Haringey Council for nearly a year, has now been taken over by squatters, despite promises by Housing bosses that it would be brought back into use this month. The property, at 15 Nelson Road, Stroud Green (N8), was occupied last week, three months after local Liberal Democrats raised the issue with Haringey Council.

In December last year Haringey Council promised that the property, which is a much sought-after three-bed family home, would be brought back into use by 26 March 2010. Yet no action has been taken on site by Haringey Council.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Stroud Green, Richard Wilson, has written urgently to the Cabinet Member for Housing to demand answers why Haringey Council has failed to act and what will be done to remove squatters.

Cllr Richard Wilson (Stroud Green) comments:

“Local residents were promised by the council that action would be taken to bring this family-sized house back into use.  Haringey Council has failed to do this and now squatters have seized on the opportunity to move in.

“One of the neighbours is an elderly lady in her eighties who, I’m told, is quite distressed about the situation.

“We now need a clear plan of action by the council to see what can be done about the squatters and bring this home back into use.

“Given the huge shortage of family council houses in the borough, Haringey Council’s failure to act is an absolute scandal.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, adds:

“This home could be used by one of the many families in Haringey who are stuck on a waiting list, in overcrowded temporary accommodation.”

Stroud Green house left empty for three years by Haringey Council

A large three-storey terrace house, which has been empty for nearly a year in Stroud Green ward, is a stark reminder of the failure by Haringey Council to tackle the housing crisis in the borough, local Liberal Democrats said this week.

Latest figures show that 370 council-owned homes are currently empty, whilst over 16,000 families are on the housing waiting lists and 566 families are waiting for properties with more than three bedrooms.

Last week, Liberal Democrats announced a national policy to bring 250,000 empty homes back into use, as part of their economic stimulus and job creation plans.

Cllr Richard Wilson (Stroud Green) comments:

“Large families wait for years on waiting lists and in overcrowded temporary accommodation, until homes of this size become available. It’s scandalous that Haringey Council is happy to let this house, which could be a wonderful family home, lie empty for nearly a year.

“No wonder we have such long housing waiting lists in Haringey, when our Labour-run council is so wasteful with its own housing stock.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, adds:

“Week after week I have local families come to me in desperate need of family-sized homes. It makes me so mad to see these properties lie empty, whilst thousands of local residents need homes.

“This is another example of Labour’s failure, locally and nationally, to tackle our housing problem.”

Haringey Council ignores views of sheltered housing residents

Labour-run Haringey Council last week decided to continue with an unpopular decision that may result in the eviction of vulnerable and elderly tenants from council supported housing. Local Liberal Democrats expressed disappointment, after Haringey Council’s watchdog committee upheld the cabinet decision to progress plans for the redevelopment of supported housing at Protheroe House, and the further review of similar schemes at Larkspur Close and Stokely Court.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, who led the Liberal Democrat ‘call-in’, said that residents’ views had been completely ignored and that the decision was being made in response to financial pressures in the Decent Homes programme, rather than in the best interest of tenants.

He urged the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to recommend that the cabinet should make residents’ wishes central to the decision making process, protect the Decent Homes funding for these properties and take no action against tenants until an Older Persons Housing Strategy, expected in 2010, decided whether there was a need for change.

However, after nearly three hours of discussion and criticism at the meeting from members of both parties about how the decision had been made and the position in which it left residents, the Labour majority on the committee decided to uphold the Cabinet’s decision.

Cllr Robert Gorrie (Hornsey ward) comments:

“After saying that they were unhappy with the decision and accepting it was not the decision residents wanted, Labour members did nothing to challenge their Labour cabinet colleagues.

“It was a real shame to see that, after a three hour debate, nothing has happened and the rights and wishes of residents have been ignored yet again.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

”Labour have once again failed to put residents and vulnerable tenants at the heart of their decision.”

Liberal Democrats force review to support residents in sheltered housing

Local Liberal Democrats have forced a review of the Labour administration’s decision to plough ahead with plans which threaten tenants’ long-term security in Haringey Council supported housing. Liberal Democrats are demanding that the decision is changed in order to put the views of residents first.

On 17 November 2009 the Labour cabinet rubber-stamped proposals to review supported housing at Campbell Court, Larkspur Close, Stokely Court and Protheroe House despite a huge outcry from local tenants’ and residents’ associations.

A special meeting of Haringey Council’s ‘watchdog’ committee will now be held on 9 December 2009 following intervention by Liberal Democrats and will discuss concerns over inadequate consultation of residents, the reason why the four identified sheltered housing blocks have been targeted above others and whether the decision goes against Council priorities.

Liberal Democrats are calling for no changes to the status of any sheltered housing schemes until the Older Person’s Housing Strategy is completed in December 2010, that any money earmarked for sheltered housing, under the Decent Homes programme, should be ring fenced and any decision should only be made in the best interests of the residents currently living in the sheltered housing schemes.

Cllr Robert Gorrie comments:

“It was clear from the Cabinet meeting that the way in which Haringey Council is running roughshod over the views of residents currently living in Stokely Court, Campbell Court, Larkspur Close and Protheroe House is not right.

“We have listened to residents living in these blocks and have decided that Haringey Council needs to reconsider its decision.

“Haringey Council has failed to consult with residents adequately and consistently, they have failed to provide any meaningful alternative for residents living in the sheltered housing and failed to put residents first in this decision.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“Haringey Council should be listening to residents in sheltered housing not giving them the extra worry of uncertainty over the future of their homes.”

Housing improvement strategy for Haringey delayed

Haringey Council has admitted that a key part of its strategy to improve housing in the borough will be delayed. Documents released by Haringey Council last week show that the plan to reconsider planning procedures for houses with multiple occupants (Houses in Multiple Occupation or HMOs) and the actions Haringey Council would take against problem landlords will not complete until September 2011. This means that areas like Harringay ward, which suffer from an over concentration of HMOs and the associated problems, will have to wait nearly two years for any action.

Local Liberal Democrats have expressed their concerned and have said that local residents will be let down by Haringey Council’s lack of action.

Cllr Carolyn Baker (Harringay Ward) comments:

“The announcement that Haringey Council are delaying taking action on HMO’s is disappointing given the amount of work the pilot wards have done on this issue.”

Cllr Matt Davies, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, adds:

“HMOs can cause an array of problems such as anti-social behaviour, noise, increased parking, litter and refuse problems, and more crime. The fact that Haringey Council is failing to meet a clear target of action on this real problem shows that they have once again turned a blind eye to the issue.”

Action needed on housing security

Concern is growing for the safety of local residents living in a housing block in Alexandra ward after Haringey Council and Homes for Haringey failed to take action to improve security despite many incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour over the past year.

Tenants and leaseholders in Bolster Grove have been forced to put up with constant vandalism and intimidation as local vandals use the main stairwell leading to residents’ homes as a hang out. Recent visits to Bolster Grove have revealed many incidents including the windows of the main entry door have been broken, windows in the stairwell forced open, window frames burned, fires being started as well as the area being regularly strewn with dropped food, litter and used condoms.

However, since the most recent incident on 11th October 2009, Homes for Haringey has not repaired the main entry door, leaving smashed glass in place and homes unsecured.

Local Liberal Democrats have continued to raise the issue, along with the need for door entry systems, with Homes for Haringey bosses and even brought the issue to the attention of Cllr John Bevan, Labour’s Cabinet member for Housing, at the last Full Council meeting on 19th October 2009. Despite this, no action has been taken by Haringey Council.

Cllr Nigel Scott   (Alexandra ward), who has alerted the local safer neighbourhood team and visits the area regularly, comments:

“It is unacceptable that after months of incidents including fires, antisocial behaviour and damage to property, residents of Bolster Grove still do not have an idea when their homes will be made safe.

“Some residents are afraid to leave their homes unoccupied whilst the entrance door is broken. It needs to made safe now and the Council should not wait until a more serious incident occurs before they take action.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“Local residents should feel safe in their own homes. Yet the lack of action by Haringey Council at Bolster Grove only leaves people feeling harassed and their homes unsecured.”

Haringey Council attacked for lack of aspiration over new homes

Haringey Council has today come under attack by Haringey Liberal Democrats for its lack of ambition for new council housing in the borough after it was revealed that it failed to apply for extra funding to build new council houses.

The revelation came in the response to a direct plea for Haringey from local MP, Lynne Featherstone, to the Housing minister as soon as it was discovered Haringey was omitted from the September announcement.

Under the scheme six London boroughs shared grants worth £28.5m to build 322 homes – money Haringey had no chance of winning because of its not applying for the scheme.

Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP says:

“Haringey obviously meets the need threshold, it’s a shame its leaders do not meet the aspiration threshold.

“Time and time again this Labour-run council fails to make the case to its own Government for Haringey. We see this with unfair funding for schools and now with housing.

“I desperately hope they will get their act together to apply for the second round of funding before it is too late.”

Cllr Matt Davies, Haringey Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, adds:

“This news comes as a bitter blow in the fight for better housing for our borough. It is sad to learn that Haringey Council is not seizing every opportunity to address the chronic housing shortage in our area.”

Calls for Housing Cabinet member to apologise as auditors sent in

Labour’s Cabinet member for Housing, Cllr John Bevan, is facing growing pressure to make a public apology for misrepresenting leaseholders in the ongoing issue of £1000+ bills for the installation of digital aerials.

At last week’s Annual General Meeting of the Haringey Leaseholders’ Association (HLA) it was confirmed that the HLA had never voted in favour of Haringey Council’s expensive digital aerials scheme despite Cllr Bevan saying publicly that they had.

Cllr Bevan publicly stated, at Full Council on 19th October 2009 and at the special meeting of the Council’s ‘watchdog’ committee on 1st October 2009, that leaseholders in fact voted for the scheme. Cllr Bevan was not at the AGM, but attended a previous HLA meeting in February 2009 where leaseholders voted in favour of an opt-out from the digital aerials scheme.

Local Liberal Democrats are calling for a public apology from Cllr Bevan to set the record straight.

Opposition housing spokesperson Cllr Matt Davies, who attended the HLA meeting on Thursday 22nd October 2009, comments:

“The Chair of the HLA asked the meeting to agree the minutes from February, which clearly state that leaseholders voted for an opt-out from the digital aerial scheme. She also asked all those present who had been at the previous meeting to confirm that this was an accurate recollection and not one single person has the same memory of the meeting as Cllr Bevan.

“Cllr Bevan must now apologise to the HLA as he was clearly mistaken. It is not surprising leaseholders get such a raw deal from Haringey if even when Labour try to listen they only hear what they want to hear.”

With the huge cost of digital aerials not the only complaints being raised by leaseholders with Councillors and Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, further questions are being asked about how Haringey bills leaseholders.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, comments:

“It is unbelievable that Cllr Bevan has so far refused to correct his statements or apologise. He must do so immediately. It is typical of Haringey Labour that they feel they can just say what they like and ignore leaseholders – treating them like a piggy-bank they can just smash open whenever they want.

“After personally hearing so many serious concerns raised individually by leaseholders, I have asked the auditors to look at how Haringey gets money from leaseholders. I will also be meeting with the HLA to discuss their concerns as a group and would encourage any other leaseholders who have complaints about their bills to contact me. We will not be letting this drop.”