Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Lambeth: the co-opting council

A Freedom of Information request by Joanna Boehnert has revealed that it cost £440,000 for Lambeth Council to evict people from Clifton Mansions, and set up a housing scheme policed by the rather draconian security firm Camelot.

Clifton Mansions is a council owned block of 22 Victorian flats that have been squatted for the past two decades, because its owners have not bothered to make use of it. Individuals therefore took it upon themselves to make homes in the flats at no cost to the state.

In 2008-2009 a group of Brixton housing activists also developed a proposal for a housing cooperative at Clifton Mansions. This proposal was flatly refused, despite the fact it would have been far cheaper and simpler.

This is another example not just of how Lambeth continues to waste money (from £8,875 on 5 Olive Trees in Clapham to a £5m Overspend on a heating system but also also how it is turning its back on co-operative housing.

Rather than being a co-operative council, it seems increasingly that it is becoming a co-opting council, taking over initiatives by the local community after local people have invested heavily in them. Other examples include Stockwell Studios, sold by Lambeth to a housing developer after artists spent £70,000 on renovations and the Lambeth shortlife properties featured in the local Guardian.

You can read more about the situation at Clifton Mansions here.

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