Tenants ‘led up the garden path’

Councillor Tim Bick, Letter in Cambridge News, 19 November 2012

YOU would think that some profiteering private landlord was brutally exploiting its tenants, to listen to Labour Party talk about plans for the city council's Water Lane flats and bungalows.

Four observations are important:

1. The Water Lane project is about a council actually investing in council housing - both to modernise it and to provide for more people who need it. It is far from a council trying to overlook the interests of its tenants.

These particular homes are incapable of providing for many enhancements people need when they become more frail and infirm and it is out of concern for this that this project comes about.

2. In projects like this, tenants would understandably prefer to avoid the upheaval of a move to allow for the upgrade or redevelopment.

But the council's track record is of sympathetically consulting each and every person until their individual alternative housing needs and desires have been properly understood and attended to: not just considering them as a category. Two-hundred and fifty people, many elderly, could bear testimony to this after making moves in the past 10 years. That process is no different with Water Lane except that the talking is far from finished.

3. If Labour is serious about supporting a veto for current tenants over refurbishments and redevelopments, we can conclude that if it was up to them investment would grind to a standstill; people would end up being forced out of properties as they became totally unfit for purpose, or homes would be left progressively vacant, enabling work to begin only after all the rest had eventually become vacant too: criminal waste in times of such a shortage.

It's all very well dismissing ‘management speak’, but the need to manage goes with responsibility.

4. The only exploitation going on here is by Labour. In leading tenants up the garden path as they are doing, they are helping neither them nor future tenants on the waiting list.

It may serve the calculations of their own campaign needs, but it's not an encouraging prospectus for the running of a council.

Cllr Tim Bick Leader, Cambridge City Council Warkworth Street Cambridge

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