in BRA's newsletter
about: Duke of York Development / Heathrow - Third Runway / Mothers'
and Toddlers' Group at the Grove Centre and more.
Labour is planning to go far with
the idea of empowering communities (the name used this time is
"public realm"). The controversial principle of foundation
hospitals would be applied to key parts of the public sector.
Mutual organisations elected and controlled by the local community
would run schools, libraries, parks, social services, leisure
facilities and so on. The proposals are part of the new Pamphlet
produced by the Fabian Society, Labour-affiliated think-tank,
and are set to be at the heart of Labour third term.
But is it what the community in Hammersmith want? Brackenbury
Residents Association says that there is no need for any more
elected or appointed officials to carry out a government agenda.
According to BRA, associations are the ideal way to empower residents.
What BRA says:
"Our view is that we are reluctant to support central government
extending its reach and its powers. An association, such as ours,
is the ideal way to empower residents. We have no political axes
to grind and we can target issues that are of real concern to
our neighbours and ourselves. Too often politics can impede our
progress and empowerment.
We do not need any more elected
or appointed officials, especially those chosen to carry out a
government agenda. We would need convincing that representatives
would not end up doing the council's administration.
Any scheme is highly likely to
be directed towards certain goals by the government. Unless a
scheme was genuinely decentralist, it would only serve the
government agenda, rather than local community needs."
Read also the the first of series of articles and interviews:
HF Partnership and Crime Reduction Superintendent,
Simon Corkill, says that "the police can only succeed if
local people are engaged", but there is lack of interest.
Elections are not necessarily on the menu to increase locals'
involvement: "There must be a separation of the executive
and the politics". What is needed, according to him, is a
debate about a citizen's responsibility."
When the local reality spoke louder
A commission made up of 19 tenants, 4 leaseholders, a councillor
and an independent chair, challenged central government rules.
In April, after six months of consultation, the borough's tenant-led
independent Housing Commission has recommended unanimously that
the council should retain its homes under the council's management.
This is instead of setting up an arms-length company or transferring
homes to a housing association, the two options preferred by Government.
Councils must show how they will bring homes up to a decent standard
by 2010 and have to look at options for the future ownership and
management of council homes. The borough's investment gap, between
estimated available resources and the cost of bring homes up to
the decent homes standard by 2010, is around £70 million.
The government has
given three options for raising the cash needed for repair: selling
off their homes to a housing association; raising money under
the private finance initiative; or extra government subsidies
if they run their homes separately from council control under
an arm's length management organisation (Almo). But the Commission
concluded that the council's housing department should be given
the extra resources.
Hammersmith and Fulham has a unique case to make because it has
the only housing service to achieve a top 4/4 rating in the Government's
Comprehensive Performance Assessment AND the Audit Commission's
'3 star' inspection rating. Because of this, the Housing Commission
argues that the council should receive the same investment allowance
it would receive if it set up a 3 star ALMO (arms length management