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Letters of the week (10/03/2016)

“Where was the co-design in Peckham?”

In your report on the approval of plans to redevelop Peckham Rye Station you notice that a member of the planning committee “could sense a great amount of unhappiness from residents”.

This is true even among those of us who favour the creation of an open square. We are dismayed that despite having committed a great deal of time and energy to a supposed ‘co-design’ process, there is very little sign of community input in the detailed plans.

Derek Kinrade, Highshore Road, SE15

“Council will not give homes if you don’t pay rent”

Last week, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) wrote in to criticise the council’s decision to evict Faysal Abdirahman and his family from temporary accommodation, after it was found that the council had no duty to house them as they had made themselves intentionally homeless through not paying rent to their previous landlord.

These decisions are always difficult, but have to be seen alongside the facts that we have 13,000 households on the council house waiting list, and that we have seen an 80% increase in the numbers of people in temporary accommodation since December 2012 (meaning that Southwark council tax payers are having to find an extra £2.4 million to support them at a time when the council budget is being viciously slashed by the government). If the council agree to house people it had no duty towards, both of those problems would only grow in scale.

One of the most heart-wrenching parts of my job is hearing from families with children in over-crowded conditions or with medical needs telling me that their position in band 3 on the housing list means that they have been waiting for a long time to get the home they need. Even with the ambitious council house building plans of the council, that situation will continue for years yet. So it seems very unfair to me to ask those families to wait even longer – which is what would happen if we were to agree to let people we have no legal duty towards jump the queue, as HASL seem to want.

And that queue and that wait would get longer still if the council were sent out a message to everyone that if you stop paying your landlord, don’t worry Southwark Council will find you a council home.

Mr Abdirahman appealed the decision that he was intentionally homeless last year, and was told he was unsuccessful in July. It is therefore odd that the letter writer thinks that the seven months between that decision and the eviction  is insufficient notice to find alternative housing.

We will still of course continue to offer support to the family to find a new home, but this will not be a council house that they have no right to.

Councillor Richard Livingstone, Cabinet member for Housing


“Dulwich Hamlet does not need a new stadium”

In your article ‘Hamlet’s New Home?’ (Southwark News, February 25, 2016) your unbalanced view failed to point out that is was bad for the community to build on Metropolitan Open Land, which is provided to help human health, biodiversity and quality of life.

To this end it is nurtured by the Friends of Green Dale and enjoyed by the whole community including football fans. A rich biodiversity ensues. Rare creatures thrive. The air is cleaner.

The football club does not need a new stadium to survive: it needs good financial management and good football and is presently doing well. It can build a new stadium on the existing stadium footprint and football fans and the local community will both be rewarded.

Hadley want to build on Metropolitan Open land to maximise profit and is not bothered if it splits the conservation and foot-balling communities and kills off the wild life. It has often repeated that it is not interested in the long term success of the club.

The football club can build itself a new stadium and the Metropolitan Open Land can be retained if Hadley restricts the number of houses it builds.

We can all win.

Simon E Hughes MBE, Camberwell


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