Assembly backs my motion on ballots for estate residents

London Assembly Members unanimously backed my motion calling on the Mayor to give ballots to estate residents.

At the final Assembly meeting of the year we were united in saying the Mayor should hear Londoner’s voices and give them the power to decide how any regeneration takes place.

The motion was put alongside Labour AM Tom Copley, and called on the Mayor to include this commitment in his final Good Practice Guide for estate regeneration. It also asked for private renters on estates to be included in the policy and given a say over their homes, as they are often excluded from having a view at all.

This is an issue I’ve worked on hard in 2017. The Mayor’s draft Good Practice Guide, published in December 2016, was out for consultation until March, and was deeply flawed – actually cautioning against councils and housing associations giving residents a final say.

During the consultation I campaigned alongside local residents on threatened estates like Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill in Lambeth and West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in Hammersmith and Fulham, getting Londoners to respond and ask for a guarantee of a ballot. I’ve since asked the Mayor how many people asked for a ballot in response to his draft but he has so far refused to say.

Assembly Members too are now united in urging Sadiq Khan to make London a place where changes to neighbourhoods are decided by the people who live there to answer their communities’ needs.

In response to the vote I said:

“The Assembly has called today for something all estate residents should have: a final say on what will happen to their homes and communities.

“Full consultation is vital and a ballot over any major plan to remodel their estates is the only way to make sure councils and housing associations don’t fudge these processes.

“The Mayor’s commitment that ‘estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation’ was clear and we are calling now for him to keep his promise to Londoners.”

And Tom Copley AM, who seconded the motion, said:

“I’m pleased that the Mayor is insisting that there must be no net loss of social housing on estate regeneration schemes in his draft Good Practice Guide. However, I want him to go further by including ballots of residents whose homes face demolition. Balloting is a vital way of ensuring residents have a meaningful say over future plans for their homes and is the best way to ensure a regeneration scheme has legitimacy.

“Wherever demolition is an option, there must be a commitment to balloting residents, particularly where a sizeable number of residents have made a request for a ballot.

“Through his Good Practice Guide, we now want to see the Mayor working with community groups to develop detailed guidance about a host of issues, such as when ballots take place, who participates and how differences in opinions between residents may be resolved.”

Watch my speech proposing the motion here:

The full text of the Motion:
This Assembly notes that the Mayor’s Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration is due to be published soon which will set out key principles to be followed in estate regeneration projects.

This Assembly also notes the Mayor’s manifesto commitment that estate regeneration only takes place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation.

This Assembly believes that a final say for residents is an important way to ensure that resident involvement in plans for their homes is done in a meaningful way throughout the process.

This Assembly therefore urges the Mayor to recommend in his final Good Practice Guide that ballots are used on all schemes where demolition is an option or to include clear guidance that ballots will be guaranteed where a proportion of residents ask for it. Ballots should extend to private renters from non-resident leaseholders and freeholders on estates.