• March
  • 24th
  • 2015

Save the date: General Election hustings

During the General Election Campaign there will be a number of events where local people can talk to Chuka about how he plans to continue to help the local area if re-elected, and how a Labour government will deliver for Streatham. Hustings events – where local people will have the opportunity to ask questions of different candidates at the same time – will take place on:

  • Tuesday 07 April at 7.00pm  – Hosted by Age UK [Venue TBC]
  • Tuesday 14 April at 7.00pm (Doors Open at 6:30) – Love Streatham hustings at Streatham Baptist Church, 20-22 Lewin Road, London, SW16 6JR
  • Thursday 16 April at 1.30pm – Lambeth College hustings, a hustings event for college students focused on first time voters [Time & Precise Venue TBC]

Unfortunately Chuka will be unable to attend the Hustings hosted by Heart Streatham at the Hideaway on Wednesday 25th March because there will be votes in Parliament at that time on the government’s budget that was presented last week. We informed the event organiser that votes on the budget were possible on this day more than a month ago. Since the decision was taken to go ahead with the event despite this information, Chuka has asked Lib Peck to speak at the hustings on behalf of the Labour Party.

 

  • February
  • 23rd
  • 2015

Chuka’s latest letter to Cressingham Garden Residents

See below for Chuka’s latest letter to residents on Cressingham Garden estate.

21 January 2015

Dear Resident,

Re: Update

I am writing further to the coffee afternoon that I held at the Rotunda just before Christmas to talk about the serious concerns residents have about the future of the Estate. Though I am not able to tell the Council what decisions to make, I am doing as much as I possibly can to put the concerns that residents have to the Council, and to help ensure the best deal for the estate.

I know that residents have had serious concerns about the financial modelling and costings that the Council have been using. I have told the Council I share these concerns and am pleased to be told they will be talking to residents about this – including meeting with the project board and a quantity surveyor appointed by local residents next week. The council has assured me they will be looking carefully at how to reduce refurbishment costs, and I hope that this will be a good first step. I have also been pushing the Council to ensure that any action regarding the future of the estate meets four criteria. These four tests are:

  • Every single home on Cressingham Gardens must meet the Decent Home Standards.
  • At the end of the works, Cressingham Gardens must contain the same number or a greater number of council homes. It’s important that this means real council homes, not just ‘affordable’ homes.
  • Every assistance must be given – to tenants and leaseholders – who wish to remain on the estate. This means that:

-    Any tenants who need to move will be offered a new tenancy, on at least the same terms, on a new or refurbished property on the estate after the works are complete; and,

-    All leaseholders should be offered opportunities beyond shared equity (which I recognise may be considered a backwards step for some, especially those who have moved from a shared ownership property to secure their own property on the estate)

  • Should any leaseholders choose to sell their properties rather than remain on the estate, they must be offered the fair market price that includes no reflection of any uncertainty that may be caused by the works to the Estate.

I have made clear my view that residents will think that anything that does not meet these four tests is not good enough. Leaseholders that I spoke to at the coffee afternoon may be pleased to know that the Council has indicated to me that they are likely to be able to offer something better than shared equity. The Council has recently published draft regeneration principles which you can read at http://goo.gl/yIbi5z, and if you want to make any comments to them about that.

Although I cannot control what the Council decide to do, I will continue to monitor what they are doing very closely, and ask that you please contact me if there is anything at all you wish to raise further. The Council have also said that they would be keen to visit any residents, particularly older residents, who are worried about what is happening.

Yours sincerely,

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP

MP for Streatham – covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton

  • February
  • 2nd
  • 2015

Network Rail, Southern & Thameslink release Joint Performance Improvment Plan

Chuka spoke today at a rail summit held with other MPs and the rail minister Claire Perry, following which  Network Rail, GTR and Southern have published their joint improvement plan which sets out what they are doing across six key areas – Infrastructure, Trains, Timetable, Drivers, Operations and Customer Experience.  The plan is available here: www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/performance-results/performance-improvement-plan/.

  • November
  • 27th
  • 2014

Update: Serious Lighting Problems on St Martins Estate, Tulse Hill

I wanted to write this post to let constituents know that I have to the Chief Executive of Metropolitan Housing Association calling for them to fix the broken lights on St Martins Estate as a matter of urgency.

For residents to have been left without essential lighting in alleyways, communal stairways and corridors around the estate, and especially on the road around the primary school, is extremely concerning given the serious safety risks, especially as the evenings and mornings are darker.

Residents should not have to put up with this, and I find it very worrying when I hear that many of the broken lights have been reported to Metropolitan up to a year ago with false assurances made to fix them and no action being taken. Metropolitan need to take this seriously, and make St Martins safe right away.

  • November
  • 20th
  • 2014

Calling all Cressingham Gardens Residents: Details of local workshops – Please make your voice heard.

I think it is incredibly important that when decisions are made about the future of any local area, the voices and views of those who live there is taken into account. Residents in Cressingham Gardens will know about Lambeth’s future plans for the estate, but I wanted to write this post to try and help ensure that residents can have the biggest possible voice as part of any decisions taken.

I know that many residents in Cressingham Gardens are concerned about the Council’s plans for the future of the estate, and while thinking of Cressingham it is impossible also not to think of Sandy Ellis, the former Chair of Cressingham Gardens Residents Association, who tragically passed away earlier this year and who accompanied me at coffee afternoons and on walkabouts I’ve held on the estate. All long term residents will have known Sandy, who worked tirelessly for the estate, and who it was my very great privilege to know and work with over the years.  Sandy embodied the fantastic community spirit that so typifies Cressingham Gardens and I know that she will be missed by all. I know it will be very difficult for anyone to fill her place.

Both from the coffee afternoons and estate walkabouts I have held in Cressingham Gardens since I was elected, and from the individual requests for help that constituents have contacted my office with, I have been aware throughout my time as the local MP that there are significant issues with the state of some of the homes on the estate – a large number have major problems with damp, and the vast majority of the estate is in need of kitchen and bathroom upgrades, as well as new roofs.

From all I have heard and seen firsthand on the estate, it has been clear for some time that a long term solution is needed, and the Council have put forward several regeneration options that include both redevelopment and refurbishment.  I wrote to all residents in January 2013 to provide an update on the Council’s regeneration plans for the estate – you can read my letter at the bottom of this page – and I know from having spoken to many residents on the estate that opinions differ on the best approach, including some people’s view that the estate is in good enough repair as it is.  I have always been clear that it is of vital importance that residents have a full and frank exchange with the Council through the ongoing consultation to ensure that their views have a meaningful impact on any decisions relating to the future of the estate – it is also vitally important that any changes do not do any damage to the fantastic community spirit found on the estate.

It is for these reasons that I wanted to write this post – and why I will be tweeting the link and including it on facebook – so as to encourage as many people as possible to participate in the workshop events detailed below to make sure any changes to Cressingham Gardens are carried out as much as possible with the confidence of people locally. If you live on the estate, you should have received a letter from Lambeth Council dated 21 October 2014 which outlines the timetable for consultation workshops, which are open to all residents. If you can’t attend any of the workshops, you can contact Lambeth Council’s Regeneration Project Manager Neil Vokes on 0207 926 3068, by emailing nvokes {at} lambeth.gov(.)uk or you can write to him at Hambrook House, Porden Road, London, SW2 5RW.

Details for the next workshops are as follows and I encourage all residents to go along and make their views known:

  • Saturday 22 November 2014, 10am – 12pm in the Rotunda: Tenants – What does the refurbishment option mean for you? And what would new build homes mean for you?
  • Saturday 22 November 2014, 1pm – 3pm in the Rotunda: Leaseholders and freeholders – What does the refurbishment option mean for you? And what would new build homes mean for you? There will be an extra hour’s discussion from 3pm – 4pm for the particular issues facing freeholders.
  • Saturday 10 December 2014, 3pm – 5pm and 6pm – 9pm in the Rotunda: Feedback session for residents.
  • Saturday 31 January 2015, 3pm – 5pm and 6pm – 9pm in the Rotunda: Final session setting out each of the options in detail.

After the workshops, I understand that all residents will be asked for their views on each of the proposed options as part of a test of opinion in February 2015.

If you wish to contact me for whatever reason, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I hold regular advice surgeries at venues in Streatham, Brixton, Tulse Hill and Clapham Park, as well as other venues across the constituency. If you wish to book an appointment, please get in touch with my constituency office.

 

————————————————————————  

January 2013

Dear Resident,

I’m out knocking on doors at Cressingham Gardens today as it has been brought to my attention that many of the residents on the estate are concerned about the regeneration plans for the estate. Some residents have contacted me directly so I have come to the estate to speak to you about your concerns and see for myself what the situation is like on the estate.

If I didn’t hand this to you in person, I’m sorry that I missed you. Even if I didn’t get the chance to speak with you today, I wanted to give you this update on plans to regenerate Cressingham Gardens in particular. I hope you find it helpful. I also have a monthly e-newsletter, so if you’d like to receive this you can email me at chuka.umunna.mp {at} parliament(.)uk with ‘Newsletter’ in the subject line. Further information about all my activities can also be found on my website – www.chuka.org.uk.

Cressingham Gardens Update

I know that many of you enjoy living on the estate and are concerned about the regeneration plans. However, I also know that a significant number of homes on the estate are not up to standard. I understand that many of the properties are damp and that the entire estate needs new roofs, and upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms.

The Council have calculated that over the past 6 years, it has spent £1.84m on responsive repairs on Cressingham Gardens and this is no longer sustainable as despite spending considerable sums of money on repairs, the condition of the properties is not in fact getting better. The Council has also estimated the cost of basic refurbishment works on all properties at Cressingham Gardens but as this would only achieve limited improvements inside residents’ homes and would not address the structural problems on the estate (caused, for instance, by subsidence and poor drainage), this too may not prove the best solution with the estimated costs to complete just the basic refurbishment works currently at more than £3,4m but with the potential to rise.

Sadly, with the Government cutting the Decent Homes money by 60%, the Council has a limited pot of money to invest in housing across the borough and so needs to find the best solution on how to improve the quality of life for the residents on Cressingham Gardens with the money that it does have. I have been assured that the Council is committed to working with Cressingham Gardens Tenants and Residents Association and the residents on the estate to find the best possible solution for the estate.

I understand that a series of public meetings were held at the end of 2012 where the Council set out why it believed that the Lambeth Housing Standard works in themselves would not resolve all of the issues residents faced on Cressingham Gardens. In response to questions from residents the Council released all relevant structural surveys, all relevant quotes for repair works and a breakdown of the responsive repairs carried out on the estate over the last 5 years.

The TRA has put forward a proposal for working with the Council and engaging and consulting residents and a newsletter has been distributed to all residents on the estate informing them of the timescales for the consultation and how residents can take part. The consultation is ongoing and there are a number of ways how the residents can find out more about the proposals for the estate or express their suggestions and views on the matter.

I also understand that there will be joint TRA, Ward Councillor and Lambeth Council Officer doorknocking sessions on the estate to speak to residents up until March 2013. The Council will then be looking to appoint architects to look at various options for the future of the estate and hold design workshops from March until September 2013. I have been assured by the Council that residents can take part and submit their representations on this up until September 2013. This can be done by contacting Neil Vokes, Lambeth Council’s Regeneration Project Manager. He can be contacted by telephone on 0207 926 3068, by email at nvokes {at} lambeth.gov(.)uk or you can write to him to Phoenix House, 10 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LL.

I encourage all residents to take part in the consultation exercise to make your views and wishes for the Cressingham Gardens estate heard. The consultation will then conclude at the end of September 2013 and in October 2013 the Council intends to publish a document setting out the options for Cressingham Gardens and what it would mean for the residents. In December 2013 the Council intends to report to Cabinet with recommendations on how to proceed.

Cressingham Gardens Tenants and Residents Association is holding its Annual General Meeting on 11th February 2013 at Cressingham Gardens Tenants Hall, Hardel Walk, Tulse Hill, London SW2 2QG and the regeneration of the estate will be discussed during the meeting. It is a good opportunity for the residents to attend (it is open to all residents) and ask questions as Lambeth Council officers and your local Councillors hope to attend.More information about the consultation can also be found on Lambeth Council’s website at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/HousingPlanning/EstateRegenerationProgramme/CressinghamGardens.htm

I hope you find this update helpful.

Contact details

If you wish to contact me for whatever reason, be this a personal casework issue that you’d like to discuss or a national policy issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Contact details can be found at the bottom of the page. I regularly hold surgeries in Brixton Hill, Clapham, Tulse Hill and Streatham on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. If you wish to book an appointment to see me, please get in touch with the staff at my constituency office.

Best Wishes,

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP
Member of Parliament for Streatham
covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton