Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Labour Housing Group AGM

On Saturday I went to the Labour Housing Group AGM at Camden Town Hall. I have only recently joined the LHG but I have been to their well attended fringe events at Labour Party conferences in the past.

The group is about “developing and promoting effective housing policy" and was formed in 1981. It is one of the Socialist Societies affiliated to the Labour Party. I think membership will give me another vote in the forthcoming leadership elections?

I had just missed the main speaker Karen Buck MP (Westminster North) due to my Council surgery which was a shame. Due to the very high rents vulnerable and unemployed tenants in her constituency will be amongst the first to be forced out or evicted if the CONDEM housing benefits restrictions are brought in as planned. London Assembly member Nicky Gavron was there, a number of Councillors and resident reps from up and down the country and also Rachael Maskell, national officer for housing in Unite.

Despite the recent general election defeat and the general doom and gloom in housing the LHG members seemed remarkable upbeat and positive. It was refreshing to be amongst people who are really, really interested in housing policy – theory and practice. The “round robin” workshop at the end of the meeting was excellent. It was supposed to be about ways of increasing the supply of housing but turned into a wide ranging discussion about housing in general. My pennyworth was about encouraging and supporting “like minded” people to join the boards of Housing Associations and how we should plan to campaign against the regressive CONDEM housing policies and make sure there is “clear red water” between them and us.

The LHG encourages local or regional branches to be set up. There was a number of us from London present and we had some interesting conversations about having a meeting after the summer to discuss possibly setting up a London branch. So watch this space.


Anonymous said...

Hi John
I am a housing association tenant (by majority vote rather than choice) and did indeed become a board member of the housing association. I have now been voted off the board because of my dissatisfaction with them. Housing Associations are unaccountable entities that need to be recaptured by the Labour Party and reformed into accountable management structures.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon

Sorry to hear what happened to you. Some housing associations have very good governance while others are pretty rotten. The same way some treat staff well and others do not. So yes, we need to ensure that the Labour Party tries to improve accountability.

A good idea would be to have some sort of support forum for board members. Maybe this is something a local branch of the LHG could do?