Lambeth has been planning on new structures to communicate with residents in the past few months. They wish to reorganise their regional areas, scrap the Area Housing Forum, Leaseholders and Tenants Council, and replace them with new bodies whilst engaging with new members through the Lambeth 500.
Their online survey can be found here: new ways of engagement.
Please complete the online questionnaire, if you haven’t done so already.
This questionnaire cam out of a consultation last year with residents and officers.
In the consultation I attended, there were several questions posed to residents:
Q: “how can Lambeth communicate better with residents?”
Q: “how can Lambeth collaborate better with residents?”
Q: “how can Lambeth ____________ (whatever the other 4 buzz-words were) better with residents?” etc…
All had the same answer for me:
A: “Do timely quality repairs – and residents will listen/engage/communicate more”.
(We also had some outstanding grants at the time, so I added “pay your bills on time” too).
The TRA Network met together last year to discuss the proposed changes to the structures, and Cllr. Mary Atkins came along and was very informative.
Some members felt the failure of structures, such as the Area Housing Forum, was not the fault of the structure, but the fact that all resident powers had been stripped from them. Certainly in the Clapham Area, the meetings consisted of Officers reading lists of reports that could quite easily be read online or sent by mail. Residents attending didn’t serve any useful purpose, apart from to find errors in the reports or question them.
- Their advice and ideas to be sought
- To make decisions
- To influence budgets (not just the GIG grants!)
Residents liked the idea that Lambeth was a ‘Cooperative Council’ – but they wanted Lambeth to BE one, not just to say it. This would mean that when Lambeth consulted with residents, the Council would actively listen to them. And instead of Lambeth coming up with ideas and trying to persuade residents to agree with them, residents wanted an equal role in collaborating with Officers to come up with ideas in the first place.
At a Tenants Council Meeting that I attended, long-term experienced campaigners thought the Council was using the Lambeth 500 to ‘push them out as trouble-makers’. They also felt that the Council controlled the Lambeth 500 – if you’re on the list you don’t know who else is on the list, so you are not empowered to call a meeting and hold the Council to account.
I don’t know if these issues have been sorted out in later meetings (please comment below if you know more than me). The Tenants Council had very valid points, but the meeting was also very negative – ‘them and us’ was stifling: residents vs. Lambeth, experienced people vs. the Lambeth 500, tenants vs. leaseholders etc. It’s important not to loose the experienced people in the previous tenants council, but the culture needs to change to become more collaborative and less adversarial if you want to work with others to achieve some goals, let alone a transformation in democratic local government.
Please make your voice heard by filing in the Survey above.