A Labour councillor claims council officers are pursuing a policy of making life difficult for Lambeth’s shortlife tenants so that they ‘go away’.
In an email to the director of housing at Lambeth council, Clapham Town councillor Helen O’Malley criticised the attitude, calling for the authority to reverse its decision to evict vulnerable resident Charmain Lodge later this month.
Ms Lodge is the latest of the borough’s so-called shortlife tenants being evicted as the authority looks to clear all such residents from their homes to sell the housing or replace it with viable social homes.
Cllr O’Malley said: “Both Cllr Robbins and myself recently heard a statement from a senior housing officer that ‘Housing’ continues to pursue a policy for ‘short-life’ residents that is focused on making life difficult for them so that they ‘go away’.”
She added: “As ward councillor, I have asked repeatedly that Lambeth begin to treat its residents with fairness, compassion and professionalism.”
The Labour councillor, who has not yet replied to calls from the Blog, called the policy to recall shortlife housing from tenants in the borough “savage”, and said the council has “failed to act with care and justice” towards Ms Lodge.
Cllr Pete Robbins, cabinet member for housing and regeneration, today rejected the claim made by his Labour colleague. He told Brixton Blog: “I have never heard a Lambeth council officer say anything of the sort.
“Far from intentionally making life difficult, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure every shortlife occupant can exercise their right to become a council tenant on a secure lifetime tenancy in a property that meets their needs.”
Julian Hall, from Lambeth United Housing Co-op, said: “Lambeth’s eviction policy does not make sense on a human level – with evictions of a number of vulnerable people either threatened or pending – it is also failing the rest of the borough on a political and financial level.
“The immediate solution is simple – do the right thing by some of the borough’s longest-term residents and stop ‘shortlife recall’ now because we won’t just ‘go away’.”
In July the Liberal Democrat group in the borough called for an immediate suspension of shortlife evictions by the council pending a full review of the plans. The request for a Town Hall meeting on the subject was rejected on the grounds that the matter was ‘not urgent’.
Liberal Democrat spokesman Cllr Jeremy Clyne said yesterday: “We were told the first opportunity to bring the matter before full council would be in November. I am surprised therefore to learn of the current renewed drive to evict shortlife residents, and am concerned that we appear to have been misled into believing that this was not an urgent matter.”
Cllr Robbins will take part in a panel discussion, organised by Brixton Blog, at Lambeth Town Hall tonight. The public meeting will examine the true impact of the bedroom tax and other government cuts on people living in Brixton and Lambeth. For more information click here.
More on shortlife housing in Lambeth: