This piece from City AM about which building repairs the City of London council is prioritising was published on 20 January 2019 – but since we haven’t seen the issues raised reported elsewhere it is worth reblogging here a month later for those who may have missed it. Those familiar with the rotten borough system of business votes unique in the UK to this local authority will not be surprised that the City of London Corporation is once again putting itself and the interests of big business above those of local residents. The council estate repairs mentioned below that are now scheduled for 2021 have been required for more than a decade! Likewise, not everything that troubles local people as regards repairs to the Golden Lane Estate is covered in this piece. The fact that a firm whose work is viewed as being of poor quality by many of those living in Golden Lane – and which charges more than other contractors – keeps winning the tenders is also an issue. The business in question – Keepmoat – is headed by City of London councillor James Thomson and so this choice of contractor impacts on public perceptions of probity.
City of London councillors have criticised the Corporation for refurbishing the Mansion House while allowing tenants in social housing to suffer “freezing winters” in flats that they claim have fallen into disrepair.
The official residence of the Lord Mayor is also used for hundreds of events each year including the annual Mansion House dinner. £1.45m has been earmarked for an external revamp that is due to be completed by 2020.
At a meeting of the court of common council last week, Labour councillor William Pimlott said tenants were enduring “freezing winter months in cold flats” in Crescent House at Golden Lane, a 1950s housing estate in the ward of Cripplegate, which is to due to undergo repairs in 2021.
He asked whether the chair of the policy and resources committee, Catherine McGuinness, would be able to provide a commitment that the Mansion House refurbishment would not take place before that earmarked for the estate.
“The Mansion House has two occupants, Crescent House hundreds, and I suggest its renovation should be our priority,” he said. “One reason for the difficulty of the repair of Crescent House is its listed status. As the Mansion House is also clearly listed, there is no reason for the political will of the Corporation of London to not apply just as strongly to the renovation of its social housing, and to result in a prompt and long overdue renovation for Crescent House’s windows.”
McGuinness responded by saying it was not within the remit of the policy and resources committee to make such a promise.
Last year the Golden Lane estate was at the centre of a political storm in the Corporation when resident councillor Susan Pearson was threatened with criminal prosecution for speaking against a decision to delegate a planning application next to the estate to Islington council.
Pearson told City A.M: “All the residents of Golden Lane estate have now lived for many years with decaying windows due to a lack of maintenance and repair. Whilst the City Corporation has at last seen the importance of maintaining their housing stock and have put forward a programme of works the timescale seems very long in comparison with that of the work on the Mansion House.
“Residents suffering with cold, damp homes and high heating bills have this and at least one more cold winter to survive.”
Bassishaw councillor Graeme Harrower added: “The fact that the external refurbishment of Mansion House is planned to be completed in 2020 and the window refurbishment of Crescent House on Golden Lane estate is only due to start in 2021 reflects the City Corporation’s priorities. For many years, hundreds of residents of Golden Lane Estate have suffered from the Corporation’s neglect of their homes. Yet the Corporation has no difficulty in quickly refurbishing the outside of Mansion House, which is a temporary home to only two people. The policy chairman did not give a satisfactory answer to Mr Pimlott’s question because there is none.”
A spokesperson for the Corporation said: “We are investing in a £25m major-works programme that over the next three or four years will transform the Golden Lane estate.Around £5m of this investment is specifically earmarked for Crescent House.
“As a social landlord for 12 housing estates across London, the welfare of our tenants is our utmost priority.
“This funding will significantly improve the structure and fabric of Crescent House as well the quality of the accommodation for residents living there.”
City Corporation criticised for pressing ahead with Mansion House revamp while social housing suffers ‘neglect’ by Alexandra Rogers, City AM, 20 January 2019. Read the original piece here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190123205122/http://www.cityam.com/271807/city-corporation-criticised-pressing-ahead-mansion-house
Keep Keepmoat Out Of The City – Say No To Walbrook Councillor & Keepmoat CEO James Thomson!