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Islington Tribune - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 4 December 2009
Homes: the next step?

• AT the recent cycle of the council’s area housing panels, tenants were finally provided with a long-awaited glimpse of the arms’- length management organisation’s (Almo’s) future intentions for the borough.
At both Lyon Street, and Upper Street panels, the chair and vice-chair of Homes for Islington (HfI), under pressure from the respective panels, composed of Islington residents, confirmed that HfI is considering four possible scenarios in regard to its form/shape, post-finalisation of the government’s Decent Homes programme.
Among the options, suggested by HfI’s board members, are formats such as converting into a residential social landlord, staying an Almo, becoming a tenant management organisation or adopting a Community Gateway model.
HfI’s vice-chair confirmed to the committee that the directors have twice discussed at Westminster the situation regarding the Almo’s progress with the Tenants Service Authority, the governmental body which will officially assume the regulation of the Almo early next year.
Notably, she also stated that tenants must be allowed to decide the Almo’s future by a borough-wide vote, which further tends to imply some form of stock transfer.
It is to be hoped that, should any of these proposals finally come to fruition, residents will be, as opposed to the situation appertaining to the original Almo ballot, suitably forewarned of its impending implementation.
It is of paramount importance that adequate financing be guaranteed by Islington Council to tenants’ associations such as the Federation of Islington Tenants’ Associations and Islington Leaseholders’ Association, whose remit is primarily to explain the shortcomings of any such proposals, as well as any proposed advantages, and not simply allow HfI to dominate the situation – once again.
Dr Brian Potter
Chairman, Federation of Islington Tenants’ Associations and Islington Leaseholders

• I HAVE been following recent letters and articles regarding HfI and the distress caused by it. The problem is threefold. First, HfI has no long-term strategy and follows its remit without thinking of the consequences for tenants and leaseholders.
Second, its bureaucratic inefficiency is reactionary and punitive. A problem comes up and it deals with it without thinking through the consequences.
Third and most serious, HfI is unaccountable and undemocratic. I have been looking to the leader of the council, Councillor Terry Stacy, to respond to the distress caused by HfI to thousands of people. We are talking about people’s homes, their haven from the sometimes harsh outside world, which have now been turned into a battleground. Yet he is able, without embarrassment or shame, to turn his face away and point to HfI as a separate being.
But HfI is the council. It can pretend all it wants but HfI is dealing with council homes and the council is the boss of HfI. Councillors cannot wash their hands of the whole thing.
I challenge Labour councillors to make a manifesto pledge that at the end of HfI’s legal ten-year term they will bring responsibility for housing back to the council. If they make such a pledge they will have my vote and the votes of thousands more come next May.

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Islington Tribune, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to Deadline for letters is midday Wednesday. 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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