Ahead of the local elections on 3rd May, the Ledbury Tenants and Residents Association held a hustings at the Ledbury Estate focused on Ledbury issues.
The hustings were attended by Cllr. Stephanie Cryan (Labour), Cllr Damian O’Brien (Liberal Democrats) and Eleanor Margolies (Green Party). The Conservative leader Cllr Michael Mitchell was invited, but claimed he was unable to find anyone within the party to attend.
Residents raised questions relating to the higher rent prices at Sylvan Grove - a new build property which Southwark Council have bought for the decanting of Ledbury tenants.
On this, Cllr. Stephanie Cryan reiterated that the rent and service charges would remain at their current set levels on Sylvan Grove. Both the Lib Dem’s and Green Party leaders said that if they were voted in, they would match the rents at the new development with Ledbury rents.
Another question was raised by a resident of the surrounding low rise blocks on the estate and what disruption would be caused to them through any refurbishment or demolition taking place in the adjacent towers. On this, Cllr Stephanie Cryan said “there will be some disruption, whatever happens” and later answered in writing: “The low rise blocks aren’t under threat of demolition”
Cllr Stephanie Cryan also informed residents that the Right To Return to the towers on the same tenancy basis and rent rate only applied in the case of refurbishment. In the case that the tower blocks were demolished and rebuilt, tenants would have right to return but they may be subject to higher rents and different types of tenancy. Cllr Damian O’Brien stated that he would make the Right To Return legally binding, to which Cllr Cryan replied it already was.
When pressed for assurances in the case of demolition and rebuild, Cllr Cryan stated: “We haven’t even looked at the demolition side, it hasn’t even been discussed” she later spoke of the importance of consulting fully with residents and involving them in every aspect of any decisions on the future of the estate which was echoed by the other candidates. Eleanor Margolies said if demolition was the only option, the site would be ideal for consideration of a Community Land Trust.
Other issues raised included questions on each party’s plans for attempting to secure more funding for housing from central Government, to which all parties accepted that this was a challenge.
Mains point raised by each party:
*Plans to build 11,000 new homes of which 1,500 are built or being built already.
* Free school meals to be extended to nursery aged children across the borough
* Free swim and gym to include free swimming lessons following the election.
* Plans to consider an approval system for overseas property investors
* Plans to clamp down and get tough with developers to ensure best deal for social housing provisions
* Plans for a big focus on housing to ensure affordable really means affordable
* Plans to consider more Community Land Trust and Co-op housing projects
* Plans to lobby to reform the voting system to make it more proportionally representative
* Focus on making Southwark more efficient with green issues including recycling, energy and pollution.