Gavin and I spent today delivering our local newsletters. The lead story is on housing and sets out Labour's action plan to tackle the terrible state of social housing following seven and a half years of neglect by the Lib Dems and Tories running Southwark Council.
The council’s failure to improve social housing was singled out by the Audit Commission this week. Southwark is one of only two councils in London to receive a ‘red flag’ for its housing services, which means that housing problems are “not being tackled adequately”
Yet the response from the Lib Dem Council Leader Nick Stanton was out of touch with reality - he has failed to acknowledge that the council has been reprimanded by the Audit Commission in any of his statements to the local press.
We've picked up lots casework from Peckham Rye residents living in social housing in recent months but one sticks in mind as particularly upsetting.
A few weeks ago I met a young man who had been housed by Southwark because he's considered to be vulnerable. We had a really nice chat about a whole host of things and he told me about how he struggled with feelings of isolation. We also spoke about the state of his flat which had bad damp and generally needed redecoration. I've since raised these problems with Southwark and I'll be pestering until they take action. However what's particularly sad is that Southwark housed a vulnerable person in such a badly maintained flat in the first place. As we talked it became clear that this young guy didn't know where to start to get the work done and he really needed some support - why on earth didn't Southwark realise this when they housed him?
It's not good enough Southwark and as long as the Lib Dem Council leader Nick Stanton keeps failing to acknowledge the crisis in housing I fear that many, many more people are going to continue to suffer.