Greenwich Conservatives defend security of tenure for Council tenants from the Labour Party

In an often bad tempered Council meeting in Greenwich last week, Conservative Councillors found themselves defending security of tenure from an increasingly incoherent set of attacks by Labour Councillors.

The Labour Party’s Cabinet Member for Housing moved a motion criticising the Conservative approach to security of tenure which included a statement that:

“Council further believes that any plans to end security of tenure for new social housing tenants will exacerbate the drift towards a stigmatised social housing sector occupied only by the most vulnerable in our communities and will undermine the shared ideal of mixed communities.”

Labour’s motion also contained quotes from David Cameron and Leader of the Opposition in Greenwich Cllr Spencer Drury. 

However, Conservatives pointed out that the Labour Party’s stance on security of tenure in Greenwich was incoherent as at Cabinet meeting on 20th July, which lasted less than 6 minutes, the Labour Cabinet agreed a plan that will mean rent increases and removing security of tenure.

In addition Conservatives pointed out that the Government had simply allowed Councils to remove security of tenure and that locally a clear commitment to protect security of tenure had been given by the Opposition.  Conservative Leader Cllr Spencer Drury attempted to change Labour motion to protect security of tenure so that it would have read:

“Council supports security of tenure in all council owned properties across Greenwich.  It calls upon the cabinet to ensure security of tenure continues for all tenants in council, ‘Housing Delivery Vehicle’ and housing association properties across the borough.”

However, every single Labour Councillor present voted against the proposed wording which would have protected security of tenure within the borough.

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury said “The speeches by Labour Councillors made me think that they could not possibly have been aware what their own policy was.  In Greenwich it was the Conservatives who expressed support for security of tenure and pointed out that the government was only giving the Council the power to end security of tenure if it wanted.  Labour Councillors seemed not to trust themselves with this power over tenure, but given their inconsistency on this issue, they may be right.”

“Labour has decided to end security of tenure for our own tenants and it is just not being honest about this.  Once again I think Labour will use propaganda like that produced in Greenwich Time to cover its tracks.”

The basic facts of the situation and further information

At its Cabinet meeting on 20th July, Labour agreed plans for 28 Council owned properties to be transferred to a new Council company (run outside of democratic control) and new residents of these properties will face changed conditions of residence, including:-

  • Increasing rent from the level faced by current Council tenants by 50% (although it will remain about 20% below the market level).
  • Remove security of tenure for those properties and provide only short-hold tenancies.
  • Remove the Right to Buy from these properties, so residents will find it hard to make the transition to home ownership.

The full details of the Cabinet decision can be found at http://committees.greenwich.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=119&MId=1760&Ver=4 under item 7 – Housing Delivery Vehicle.

The full wording of the Labour motion to Council proposed by Steve Offord can be found at http://committees.greenwich.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=151&MId=1755&Ver=4 on the agenda for this meeting.