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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 19 July 2007
Motivated by politics

• YOUR article on the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration’s decision to cut the adverts for choice-based lettings from this newspaper is very timely.
It would be astonishing for a council that likes to “spin” as much as possible to claim that, in introducing this cut, it is listening to the views of residents. 
In my experience as a councillor, tenants rely on the choice-based lettings information when they are looking for suitable properties for a transfer.
It would seem that this cut is politically motivated, perhaps because you have started printing stories on the cheap and nasty agenda of this council – be it cuts to youth services throughout the borough or the decision to ban community barbecues this summer.
But it is not just on the issue of choice-based lettings adverts that the council seems to be attacking the New Journal.
I’ve been shocked on a number of occasions in licensing committee hearings to hear that the statutory adverts that the council is legally obligated to print in the local press are put in other papers that have few readers south of the Euston Road. 
Just recently, I was on a licensing panel discussing an application to vary a pub’s opening hours in Covent Garden and was astonished that the council had chosen to print this in a paper that is largely read in Hampstead – so residents affected by the decision would have potentially been entirely unaware of the proposals.
I very much hope that this council reverses its decision to stop advertising the choice- based lettings service and wakes up to the fact that the CNJ is a borough-wide newspaper that can reach residents south of the Euston Road.
Labour, King’s Cross

• THE important point to be made about council publicity is that it should be fair and consistent (Axing council adverts seen as attack on CNJ, July 12).
I disagree with the council’s argument that it’s all about cost. 
Whether Town Hall officers and politicians can handle criticism from the CNJ or not – and your paper gave Labour no favours when we were in office – social justice considerations should surely be made here.
Is it either fair or consistent that Tory/ Liberal Democrat Town Hall leaders restored adverts for many minor planning notices, but then cut publicity on thousands of tenants bidding and choosing their council home? 
I’m afraid it looks like another example of the Town Hall’s
on-the-hoof “two tier Camden” policies, where the views of the vocal few in the north of the borough seem to get special treatment over the needs of others.
Labour, Regent’s Park

• I AM a housing solicitor and in the course of my work have assisted applicants for housing in negotiating many different choice- based lettings (CBL) schemes.
In order for a CBL to work effectively it needs to be clear and simple. It is also essential that the local authority ensures it is as easy to access as possible. Accessibility is
particularly important because many applicants for housing will be vulnerable people; many will be have poor literacy skills and many will not speak much English.
The majority are unlikely to have regular access to a computer.
I was extremely surprised to read that Camden no longer plans to advertise its properties in the New Journal and that it will advertise properties using the internet only.
It seems to be completely obvious that this unfairly disadvantages applicants who do not have access to the internet. It is also obvious which groups of applicants will be advantaged by this move.
If Camden wants to ensure all applicants have equal access to accommodation and that properties are let in accordance with the principles of its CBL, then it must urgently ensure that alternatives to internet based bidding are reinstated as soon as possible.
It does not matter whether this is through the CNJ or some other medium but presumably it would cost the council a lot more to publish its own weekly freesheet to advertise properties (as some authorities do) than to revert to advertising in the CNJ (the borough’s free weekly newspaper).
Northwold Road, E5

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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