It is welcome news that the CMP for 100 Avenue Road redevelopment has been rejected – for now. Residents remain broadly opposed to the project taking place, and many had voiced their concerns about the CMP.
That an adapted version of this CMP could yet pass the committee stage is however worrying. We have repeatedly made inquiries to Council officers and cabinet members alike about whether they are taking into the account the number of disruptive large-scale construction projects scheduled to take place simultaneously in the same area, to no avail.
With further major work to rectify past failures on the Chalcots estate due to start early next year, as well as construction for the CS11 and HS2, we and the residents we represent feel frustrated that no individual is taking a holistic view of, and responsibility for, the impact of having these works coincide. Undertaken at the same time, these projects will create additional congestion and noise, negatively affect our already poor air quality, and threaten the much-loved and successful Swiss Cottage Market.
We reiterate our opposition to the redevelopment of 100 Avenue Road, which will be out of keeping with the area and produce none of the social housing that Camden desperately needs. Given the unlikelihood that the project could be stopped altogether, however, we ask that the Council at least take a pragmatic stance and delay this project until more important works on the Chalcots estate are completed.
Cllr Luisa Porritt
Cllr Tom Simon
Britain is in the grip of a housing crisis.
There simply aren’t enough homes to buy, prices are skyrocketing and the young are increasingly finding themselves locked out of the property market - and stuck on the bottom of the ladder.
Successive governments have not only failed to tackle this challenge, they’ve made it worse.
Tackling this problem won’t be easy, but if we’re to build a society that is fair, free and open, it’s a problem we must tackle.
That’s why Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats have set out a radical plan to tackle the housing crisis. This includes -
- A programme of large-scale affordable housing. Of the 300,000 new homes a year, at least 50,000 should be social rented housing, rising to 100,000 a year as soon as we can. Our ambition should be to build 500,000 homes a year in total within the next few years.
- A big expansion in ‘rent to own’. Housing associations would build properties for occupiers to pay a market-level rent. The additional margin would yield the occupier an increasing stake in the property over time. Variants of this model are already in use in Liberal Democrat controlled local authorities like Eastleigh, and these just show the capacity of local government to step up to the plate and tackle housing affordability head-on.
- A new, arms-length body that will be empowered by law to acquire land of low amenity and market value through compulsory acquisition and build houses available for five-year rentals which could be converted into freehold acquisitions with a mortgage.
- Raising quality, safety and environmental standards in existing residential properties. Liberal Democrats have detailed plans for a zero carbon Britain by 2050, and the existing – as well as new – housing stock is at the heart of it.
- Ending exploitative, greedy, negligent or neglectful practices in the private sector, which give the majority of good landlords a bad name. Measures include a publicly available database of rogue landlords; capping upfront deposit and banning letting agencies’ fees for tenants.
- Strengthening the sanctions for leaving homes empty, with fiscal measures to incentivise domestic use. For example, increasing the 200% council tax on homes deliberately left empty to 500%.
Finally, if we are going to improve housing supply, we must take a flexible and pragmatic approach to the Green Belt not ideological and dogmatic. Liberal Democrat campaigners all over the country have campaigned to ensure real green space – some of it green belt, some of it metropolitan open land – is protected where it provides real beauty and utility to the community.
But there are some parts of the Green Belt which have disused petrol stations or abandoned warehouses on them or places which – being immediately next to busy motorways – could hardly be called areas of beauty and tranquillity.
Nobody who is serious about resolving the housing crisis would argue that such sites should be off limits.
That is why I am also proposing to allow local authorities to “swop” sites of low environmental value in the Green Belt for green space in urban areas.
And if you’re in favour of ending the housing crisis, please add your name in support of the campaign now.
Belsize Liberal Democrat Councillors Tom Simon and Luisa Porritt have gained places on five committees, enabling them to hold the Labour-run Council to account on key policy areas.
Tom has a place on the Culture and Environment Scrutiny Committee, which covers areas including policing, waste collection, air quality and planning decisions that were central to the Camden Lib Dems manifesto. He is also on the Licensing Committee, which he sat on as a Councillor previously.
Luisa has places on the Resources and Corporate Performance Scrutiny Committee & the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee, where she intends to use her background in finance and economics to ensure local government finances are managed effectively.
Tom has also joined the Fire Safety Advisory Panel.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Camden Council, Cllr Flick Rea, has criticised the fact that profits from the sale of council homes were never returned to local authorities to build new council homes.
Speaking in the Camden Citizen, which you can read here, Flick said, "Whilst it is a commendable ambition for people to want to own their own homes, it has never been right that the profits were never returned to local authorities to build new homes and replenish their housing stock."
"Furthermore, the process was not set up to prevent early resales, thus doubling the inequity for local authorities such as Camden who effectively lost out twice!"
"As it is, it has led to a system of greedy landlords buying up ex-Council properties and converting them into high-rent tenancies. No help there for those who need social housing, and no help for local Councils to build new homes."
The Council is currently consulting on plans for traffic controls to prevent traffic queuing outside Gospel Oak primary school at the beginning and end of the school day.
Gospel Oak Lib Dems strongly support steps to improve air quality, particularly around schools, and the Council are right to recognise that action needs to be taken. But the proposals put forward are too limited and too timid. They would serve only to move backed-up traffic a road or two along. This is an opportunity to do much more.
We call on the Council to include in the consultation consideration of one-way systems preventing the streets north of Mansfield Road being used as a cut-through at all: not just a Healthy School Street but a step towards a Healthy Neighbourhood.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Camden Council, Cllr Flick Rea, has spoken out against the massive increase in the number of visits to foodbanks.
Speaking in the Camden Citizen, which you can read here, Flick said, "This only underlines the serious inequalities in our Borough and is a shameful indictment of today’s fractured society."
Queen Mary’s Hospital lies at the apex of Hampstead on the corner of East Heath Road and Heath Street. The 1.6 acres of land and buildings, originally a maternity home, was bequeathed by Lord Leverhulme nearly a century ago, for therapeutic medical purposes, and also provides accommodation for 52 nurses and key workers.
The Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust is considering selling the site for luxury housing development, which is the last thing that Hampstead needs. We believe that the Trust should seek ways of retaining the site for NHS and key worker housing use, and that Camden should refuse any planning applications for demolition or change of use.
If you feel the same way, and want to stop the sell-off, please sign the petition.
Residents of Wendling have been consulted about regeneration of the estate five times in the last two years. Each consultation has led simply to the Labour council immediately announcing a further consultation.
Labour’s merry-go-round throws away money and leaves tenants and leaseholders in a state of perpetual uncertainty.
We call for the next consultation to be decisive and to be decided by a vote.
It is also imperative that the offer on the table should be open, honest and clear.
It is concerning that rumours are again circulating about tenants being relocated to Southend-on-Sea: there must be no doubt where people would be housed during rebuilding. Tenants and leaseholders must know what housing would be available to them and their families. And there must be clarity about the build quality: will the standards of Cherry Court be matched and if not why not?
Only Lib Dem councillors will stand up for the residents of Wendling.
(Read the manifesto here:)
Launching their 2018 local elections manifesto at the Sheriff Centre in West Hampstead on Tuesday 17 April, Camden Liberal Democrats pledged a borough that is open, vibrant and inclusive. In the manifesto, Lib Dem council candidates promise to listen to residents, stand up for local communities in all parts of the borough,and support the vulnerable so everyone can participate fully in our society. A Lib Dem-run Camden Council will be accountable, safer and greener, and will promote diversity and creativity.
The party’s top five manifesto pledges are:
1) Fund 20 extra PCs and community safety officers to reverse the rise in crime; and bring together youth services and community groups to urgently tackle knife crime which risks the lives of our young people.
2) Improve access to mental health services and work with Camden NHS to fund a local team of specialist community dementia care nurses.
3) Build 700 new zero-carbon social and affordable homes; boost shared ownership options for young people to give them a first step onto the housing ladder; protect private tenants from rogue landlords; and treat council tenants and leaseholders with respect.
4) Reduce air pollution, especially near schools and nurseries; install electric charging points on most roads in the borough; switch to energy-saving street lights; and create 25 new ‘pocket parks’.
5) Review Labour’s inflexible rubbish and recycling policy, hold contractors to account, drop punitive garden waste charges and get tough on fly-tipping.
Camden Liberal Democrats will also continue to fight for an Exit from Brexit, enabling the UK to stay in the European Union (EU). The party will be the strongest voice for Camden’s EU citizens, and seek to protect its other residents from damaging Tory/Labour hard Brexit plans. Unlike any other major party, Camden Liberal Democrats believe the people must have the final say on the final deal with the alternative option being to
remain in the EU.
Other manifesto highlights include:Introducing youth workers into A&E departments to engage with patients attending with stab wounds.
- Tackling the social care funding crisis by increasing council tax in the short term, while calling on Government to raise a penny on the pound in income tax as a longer-term solution.
- Doubling the council tax premium (from 50% to 100%) on homes left empty for over two years.
- Making use of empty council buildings to provide emergency and temporary accommodation to rough sleepers.
- Provide free sanitary towels in schools so that girls can continue their education uninterrupted and with dignity, to end period poverty.
- Planting at least two new trees for every one that needs to be removed.
- Enhancing play facilities for children with disabilities, especially in Camden’s parks.
- Working with schools to develop inclusive, non-proscriptive, gender neutral school uniform policies.
- Promoting and protecting live music, theatres, local community centres, pubs & cafes, including venues that support LGBT+ and BAME communities, and seek the reopening of the Black Cap.
- Establish a ‘technology incubator hub’ to develop relationships and support between large
technology firms, universities and start-ups.
Roger Fox, Chair of Camden Liberal Democrats, said:
“Here in Camden, we pledge that our prospective councillors will make it easier to live as a Londoner, by listening to residents, standing up for local communities in all parts of the borough, and supporting vulnerable people. We will strive for a Camden that is not only safer and greener, but also open, vibrant and inclusive.
“The Liberal Democrats are also the only major party with a clear and unambiguous pro-European platform. These elections are a great opportunity to send a message to both parties that their pro-Brexit stances are not supported in London, with a strong Liberal Democrat vote here in May.”
The Camden Liberal Democrats are proud to stand on a platform to keep our community open, vibrant and inclusive. This election we can show everyone what Camden stands for and send a message to the Labour and Conservative parties that Brexit is not in our name, and that we demand a vote on the deal!
We are launching our full manifesto this Tuesday however we thought we would give you a sneak peak and share the first six pages which include our top pledges and the vision we have for Camden, which you can find below.
If you agree with us please do join us, get involved, help on our campaign and stand up for a liberal London.