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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 13 March 2008
We will only sell off empty homes

• I HAVE to say I found last week’s front page article – ‘They sold my home’ bombshell – quite unacceptable. The impression you give is completely wrong, and you have caused needless worry and anxiety to readers who may now fear their homes are under threat. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The major Decent Homes programme which this council has just agreed is about rescuing
our homes from serious problems with wiring, with heating, with windows, kitchens and bathrooms, for our valued council tenants. I and my colleagues on the council executive feel it is crucial that when government continues to refuse to provide urgently-needed funding we find a way forward.
The way forward we have agreed on – supported by the majority of residents who responded to our consultation – is to sell a small number of our empty homes to enable us to repair the very large number we will retain. We will sell a maximum of 500 empty homes, but this will pay for nearly 24,000 homes to be brought up to the Decent Homes standard.
Initial indications are that we will achieve our target of raising £110million by selling much fewer than the 500 maximum. Getting our homes up to the Decent Homes standard will improve the day-to-day lives of many tens of thousands of residents.
The facts of the case you mention – of the sale of 57 Rochester Road, where Ms Eagar used to live – are quite different to how you portrayed them. You do everyone concerned an injustice. Housing staff explained this at the meeting which your reporter attended, and your article failed to reflect this.
The council in fact re-housed Ms Eagar three years ago, because of a fire at the property, and she has not lived at 57 Rochester Road for all this time. When staff were checking how to get the property back into use they discovered more serious problems which we could not afford to remedy. So the property has been waiting for three years, too expensive to repair to allow Ms Eagar to return.
In autumn last year, the situation was reviewed, and with no new funding to repair the property it became clear that Ms Eagar was not going to be able to return. She confirmed to us she was not expecting to return – we wrote to her on November 27 to confirm this – and she has since then been applying to move from her temporary accommodation to a permanent council home, with help from the council. Confident that Ms Eagar was now able to move on and find a proper home at last, the question was what to do with an empty building we could not afford to repair.
I am quite sure that staff did exactly the right thing in putting it up for auction, in order to raise much-needed funds to improve our homes for our other residents. Our position remains that we will only sell empty homes, and only to raise funds for urgently-needed improvements to our council homes while government fails to help.
Lib Dem executive member for housing

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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