Now you may expect this blog to react hysterically to the news. In fact we welcome the news. Unlike so many of the plans the council has made, whilst we would like to see a more ambitious project, it is eminently sensesible to start by testing the water. 38 Houses will not scratch the surface of the problem, but as the council has lost all of its experience in such schemes, dipping the toe in first is clearly a good way to start.
What is perhaps troubling is the statement by the Leader of the Council -
Cllr Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “Central Government now gives councils greater freedom to spend our housing income as we think is wise so we can create these new family sized homes along with a number of fully wheelchair accessible homes.“There is no doubt that London needs new homes and I think council housing will be part of that mix.“They will, however, be very different from council housing as we have known it in the past. I don’t see that there will be large estates and we plan that council housing will be available to a family for a particular period in their lives. It won’t mean a house for life.”
The last sentence about the properties "not being a house for life worries me. What exactly does the leader mean? Does he mean that at some unspecified point families will be evicted? I am all for people moving out of Council accomodation when they can afford to move, but what when they can't? Do we really want to see people turfed out on the streets?
I suspect that the statement is actually just a nod to the more right wing loonies in the Barnet Tory party. I don't really think Richard Cornelius is someone who is so heartless as to sling people on the street, when through no fault of there own, people find themselves in times of hardship.
There are thousands of people on the waiting list for council homes in Barnet. The council has no policy to address this problem. All this can be seen as is a green shoot of common sense. People on the left should resist the urge to react antagonisitically to something which indicates a modicum of common sense is being displayed. We should remember that there was a period from 1997 until 2002, when Barnet had a Labour Council and the country had a Labour government, when no council houses at all were built in the Borough.
Even worse, this period lumbered us with Barnet Homes, which if it was being launched today would have the local BAPSters and other groups on the left protesting outside the town hall. Sadly as Labour brought in this awful organisation, no one said a dickybird. I sincerely hope that the local Labour group has learned. We do ourselves no favours by shutting our eyes and pretending it is all marvellous, because this leads to a complete cock up. Sadly the local Tories learned nothing from the acquiesence of the Labour hordes to stupid and misguided policies and so have embarked on equally stupid ones with One Barnet.