Last week, Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council and ward councillor for Totteridge (which includes Sweets Way) wrote this column for the local paper:
(Incidentally, he has not himself attended any evictions at Sweets Way – despite our invitations to join us to support the residents. A video where we challenge him in person directly about the claims in this column can be found on our facebook site).
This is the response from Barnet Housing Action Group and Our West Hendon:
OUR RESPONSE TO COUNCILLOR CORNELIUS (SENT TO LOCAL PAPER)
Barnet does not compare with Bristol in any way shape or form. Bristol is a city dealing with its city issues responsibly, Barnet is an urban borough that are evicting their responsibilities.
The growth shows the actual proof that Barnet council is happy to allow developers to make unlimited profits at the expense of the ordinary average person. There is ‘no prize’ of new homes for the middle waged/low waged/no waged ordinary people of Barnet!!
No new homes are springing up on Brownfield sites (the new name for housing estates) only unaffordable buildings. All the 1960’s housing that is being demolished are desirable social housing that are perfectly sound, the only reason they are being demolished is because the developers can make mega amounts of money at the communities expense.
On the West Hendon Estate council tenants are by no means ‘delighted’ with their replacement homes – stuck in the middle of a car park , overlooking the back of garages and kebab shops alongside the Edgware Rd. Yes , Councillor Cornelius is right in stating in his column in The Press (19 Feb) that ‘it is important people who bought their flats which need to be replaced are given the best possible deal.’ Those that are being forced to sell their homes at tens of thousands of pounds below market value price – by Barnet Council – do not want new properties, they wish to keep their current homes which are bigger, more spacious and cheaper to run. Hence the public inquiry around the compulsory purchase orders – at which Barnet Council have paid for the services of a top expensive Q.C. IN WHAT SHAPE OR FORM IS THAT PRESSURISING THE DEVELOPER (as he states in his column)?! How can he possibly justify this statement when he knows that it was clearly stated at the Public Inquiry held at Hendon Town Hall in January 2015 by Paul Watlings of Capita that it was his personal view that determined the final value of the privately owned houses purchased from residents for the regeneration, NOT the open market value.
The council is constantly capitulating to both Capita and the developer..
As for leaseholders not needing a mortgage – watch for yourselves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OXc814Q9ps
Residents have been kept as temporary tenants at West Hendon on average 9 years many in-between 13 – 17 years already and many of these temporary tenants will stay that way for another 5 – 10 years (27 years), and will be then told under the new housing proposals expected to come into force this year “If you live on a Regeneration Estate You Will No Longer Be Entitled to a Council Home”.
Temporary tenants from West Hendon and Sweets Way would vehemently disagree that the process of finding new homes for them has ‘gone quite smoothly’. At West Hendon there was misinformation given about the need to turn up at court, months of anxiety and stress around where they will be moved to – with no choice and only ‘one ‘ offer – if they even qualify at all to be rehoused!! Residents in the next phase are still in the same position.
At Sweets Way this week temporary tenants were advised by the powers that be at Barnet that they had to wait until bailiffs had actually evicted them out of their homes before they could be offered any assistance – people standing in the road, belongings strewn along the pavements , waiting for telephone calls to inform them where they were being shipped off to – without , in many cases, even being allowed the opportunity to view the properties first and without assistance in storage and removal.
If Councilor Cornelius had been present he could have observed for himself the devastated residents and their traumatized children, but he chose not to accept, or even bother to reply, to our invitation to come and speak with the residents on one of the days evictions took place.http://youtu.be/hyeD-x-uDCA
The fact that Councilor Cornelius ends his column stating that ‘the solid achievement of building homes needs to be recognised and celebrated’ – when we know these are actually just homes for the rich, only 3 council properties in the past 22 years and only 41 more in the pipeline – probably makes the ordinary people of Barnet wonder: does Councilor Cornelius even live on this planet, never mind in this borough!!!
Our West Hendon/Barnet Housing Action Group