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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 13 March 2008
Only the really wealthy will be able to live here

• OF the seven properties auctioned last month, not one was sold to a private home-buyer (Developers pay millions at council’s homes auction, February 28).
When I moved to Kentish Town nearly two years ago, I immediately fell in love with the area. I’m part of a local women’s football team, I’m on first-name terms with the corner shopkeeper and I do most of my socialising in the area. I long to stay, but since being served notice by my good landlord, my housemates and I are struggling to find somewhere even remotely affordable to rent, let alone buy.
Every member of the working, earning, contributing public should have the right to aspire to owning their own home. When even those earning salaries above the average for their area are unable to afford to rent, much less buy, property in those areas then something is gravely amiss.
The (nameless) property developers won last month’s auctions fair and square, splashing out sufficient amounts of cash to ensure there was absolutely no chance of any one of those houses becoming a home any time soon. But, is it fair that real people can no longer aspire to owning their own home in Camden?
The properties sold in last month’s auction were undeveloped, unrenovated, so-called “fixer uppers”. Those trying to get a foot on the property ladder should realistically be able to aspire to making these houses their homes.
Shame on you, Camden Council, for cashing in and effectively selling off your communities to perk up the bank balance. Is it not true that stable homes are the basis of stable families and thus stable communities? It’s common knowledge that home owners stay longer in and contribute more to their communities.
Surely, nobody wants to see Camden become a community of people who “stay here”, rather than “live here”.
A rented house is by its nature transient and tenants rarely take in it the sort of pride they would in a home of their own. It won’t be long before the only people who own homes in our area are the unfathomably wealthy. And when they die, the property developers will doubtless be poised, ready to swoop in for the kill.
Likewise, soon the only people who will be able to afford Camden rents will be Eurostar Business Lounge travellers on a quick stopover in our fair borough. “Community – qu’est-ce que c’est?”
Address supplied

THE circumstances of the sale of Lucy Eagar’s flat are deeply distressing, but they are hardly the responsibility of Councillor Chris Naylor, the Lib Dem executive member for housing, as, according to your report, Ms Eagar left the flat four years ago, after being told she would be able to move back in six months (‘They sold my home’ bombshell, March 6).
What it does reveal is serious incompetence in the housing department, going back many years.
Putting that to one side, surely it is time for Cllr Naylor’s critics to think seriously about the alternatives to his policy? Let’s remember, these properties were vacant, and required major expenditure to make them habitable. So, what were the alternatives?
The first alternative would have been to do nothing, and let these properties continue to decay. This was the policy of inaction pursued by the previous Labour majority as demonstrated by Ms Eagar’s case, to their shame. If Labour had taken remedial action over the last decade or so this issue would not have arisen.
The only other alternative at this stage would have been for the council to have undertaken the necessary structural works itself, and let the houses in the normal way. The cost of bringing them up to the required standard would have added yet more to the council’s already huge – and still unfunded – bill for essential renovations. A tiny number of extra houses would be on the council’s list, but at a totally disproportionate cost.
Regardless of their political outlook, everyone interested in this question has to accept that our problem is unlikely to be solved by money from Whitehall – though all political, tenant and leaseholder interests should unite for once to push our case. But the economic downturn makes success even less likely.
Cllr Naylor’s plan can go a long way towards a solution. Surely all parties would agree it would be marvellous for Camden to solve its problems itself? For nearly 30 years successive governments have sought to reduce the ability of councils to manage their own affairs. This is our chance to show Westminster and Whitehall we can do just that!
Regents Park Road, NW1

THE case of Lucy Eagar, the disabled tenant whose home was sold behind her back by council officials, is worrying for residents of the nearby Maiden Lane estate.
We are facing a plan concocted by the very same council officials to demolish half our estate and “re-house elsewhere” the displaced residents. In our case, the unlucky residents will be numbered in the hundreds – and certainly will include many sick, elderly and disabled.
Failed by our ward councillors and even our own estate management board who colluded in the plan, the residents have had to start their own grassroots organisation, Save ALL our Homes, to defend themselves. Our website can be found at www.
Broadfield Lane, NW1

COUNCILLOR Chris Naylor, the Lib Dem executive member for housing, lacks the tenacity and conviction to stand against central government ministers and fight for direct investment in our council housing. He has taken the easy option by selling council houses against the electorate's wishes.
It is now time for the tenants of Camden to have a vote of no confidence in this administration, and vote it out of office.
Chairman, Streetlife

AS a Camden council street property resident I am concerned by the underhand manner in which the council is selling off large numbers of street properties.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of council street property dwellings have disappeared from the council’s housing portfolio and this has largely gone unreported. Forget the “public” auctions – they are a smoke screen.
In May last year a Freedom of Information request made to the council revealed that there were 7,326 council street properties, and a further request in January revealed the number had dropped to 6,551 properties. So 775 properties have gone missing and Camden Council has not provided a plausible reason for their disappearance.
Has the council sold off these 775 properties (and possibly more) behind our backs? Did the Camden Association of Street Properties know about these sell-offs?

ONE wonders how long it will be before Camden Council sells off the Ossulston estate, which stands in the way of the wonderful area it wants around the new St Pancras station and British Library. I wish residents good luck if they fight this continued sale of council housing.
Brandon, Suffolk

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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