David Miliband visits Brixton Hill

A former foreign secretary visited Brixton Hill yesterday to speak to residents about how they run their own estate.

The Right Honourable David Miliband,  Labour MP for South Shields, came to the Blenheim Garden Estate for the meeting with Lambeth council leader Cllr Steve Reed and Cllr Florence Nosegbe before canvassing door-to-door in support of mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone.

Miliband, who has experienced more plush surroundings courting heads of state across the world, sat in a former bookmakers to hear  how tenants turned the estate round to become the “best in Lambeth”.

WINDMILL: David Miliband, second right, with Cllr Steve Reed, a Labour activist and Cllr Florence Nosegbe, far left, in front of Brixton Windmill

Speaking before the meeting Miliband told the Brixton Blog he had come to support Reed and learn from Lambeth’s example of “co-operative” council.

The MP said: “I’ve known Steve for 6 or 7 years and I have heard all about what he’s trying to do with the way the council spends its money here. I think it is very important and exciting that Lambeth is putting into practice a different way of delivering services.”

Since the resident management organisation (RMO) took over running the 440 homes on the Blenheim Gardens estate 11 years ago they have pedestrianised the whole street creating a more pleasant, landscaped environment. They also increased rent collection rates to 99 per cent.

Danny Howcroft, manager of the Blenheim Gardens RMO, said: “Before we took over running the estate we had prostitution, we had drugs, but with the help of the police we have got that to go away.”

A resident told Miliband: “Our local residents not only changed the area physically but also the services they receive.

“Now you can come down here to the office with a problem, whatever it is, and say that this is happening or that is happening. Neighbours look after neighbours, and it is like a big family.”

Cllr Steve Reed called Blenheim Gardens “one of the best run estates in Lambeth.”

During a discussion on further improvements the assembled residents said they wanted more CCTV and somewhere for children and young people to play football.