Tower Hamlets Watch

Council sells 8 pieces of land to RSL for £8 pound

September 11, 2009
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Housing Association lays out £8 for council land and recieves investment of nearly £8 million….not a bad deal really!…

Recently the council had 8 pieces of land valued in E1 including the Sidney Street Library (see minutes of Cabinet Meeting 1st July 2009 Article 6.4, and also the councils report – ‘Local Homes Initiative -CAB 010/090‘). This valuation came back at over £2.7 million pounds. They did this because they are apparently in desparate need of socially rented homes for the massive overcrowding problem we again aparently have in this borough.
They would only sell this land to developers or Housing Associations who would promise to provide 35 family sized homes and the allocation of tenants in these properties over to the council. These tenants would be taken off the council waiting list but would not become council tenants and would in fact become Housing Association Tenants.
So the only benefit to the council apart from the £2.7 million added to the councils Housing Revenue Account, would be the right to house 35 families in these homes, but again, they would lose all income related to rents because these would obviously become Housing Association Tenants.

Tower Hamlets Community Homes has now been given £5,078,571 in the form of a non-repayable grant from the Homes & Communities Agency to build these homes. This would mean that the 35 homes would cost around £145,000 each to build, way above all other estimates to build social rented home, almost 3 times as much. The council in their wisdom dont think that this money is enough to provide these 35 homes, so added to the already large donation by selling the £2.7 million pounds of land for a sum total of £8 pounds. This increases the average total to build each home to £222,388, almost a quarter of a million for each home. Thats almost £8 million to house 35 families, and never ever earn any rents from these families.

Seeing that in Tower Hamlets over 60% of residents recieve some form of Housing Benefit, the odds probably show that not only will we never have the benefit of recieving rents, we will also be paying the rents through the housing benefit system. Last year (2008/2009) an FOI request revealed that the council recieved £53.9 million from council tenant rents that went straight into the ring-fenced Housing Revenue Account, this money is freely available to be again spent back into the system, possibly 60% could be from housing benefits, but this comes from central government, and not from council accounts. The FOI request goes on further to reveal that we lose revenue in the form of housing benefit to the private sector to the tune of £121 million and to the Housing Associations another £91.4 million.  Thats almost 4 times as much money being payed in rents to the private sector in this borough, compared to what this council recieves in rents. Yet not one councillor has petitioned central goverment asking why they dont have any real scheme to build more council homes.

The Homes and Communites Agency in the first 4 months of its existence this year has given away £2.8 billion in non-repayable grants to developers and housing associations, and has only allocated £400 million for council homes. This £400 million comes with strings attached. Councils have to bid for a slice of this £400 million, and whatever amount they ask for the council has to match that figure from their own Housing Revenue Account or through the private sector.

Tower Hamlets Community Housing has not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 of our illustrious labour councillors as directors on their boards;

Sirajul Islam,

Helal Uddin Abbas, 

Waiseul Islam  

and finally Shafiqul Haque .

You would imagine that one of these expressed concern that nearly £8 million was being given away, for essentially private homes to be built. Maybe screaming something like “Why dont you give the council the money to build council homes instead”. No, they then let their fellow colleagues vote to let the land be sold for £8 pounds. Did they protest at the £5.7 million no strings attached windfall from the HCA, no because as directors of Tower Hamlets Community Housing they would most probably have been party to all discussion with the Homes & Communities Agency, even instrumental in the decision making process.

To sum it all up nearly £8 million pounds of taxpayers money has been given away to provide 35 homes at a cost of nearly a quarter of a million each, these homes will not be owned by the taxpayer, the council will never recieve rents for these properties and theres a 60% chance that taxpayers money will pay these rents forever. And 4 labour councillors who had the power to block this outrageous deal and make a case for the money to be spent on council homes didn’t utter a murmer of discontent.”


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Remembering the day……………..

September 11, 2009
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Just thought i’d place my condolences and remembrance to all those effected by the events of this the 8th anniversary of what is now termed 9/11. My prayers go out to all those who lost their lives on that terrible day, and to all those also who have lost their lives since  that have a direct connection to this utterly tragic and terrible event.  My heart also goes out to all those families whose lives have also been blighted by these events.


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Some interesting links for obtaining information………..

September 11, 2009
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Just thought i’d place some links that can help others here who are interested in finding snippets of information regarding local matters, or otherwise:

Contact details for all Tower Hamlets Councillors, includes email addresses, telephone numbers, surgery times, and declaration of members interests: http://sps2ksrv.towerhamlets.gov.uk/meetYourCouncillor/

The next links are for those interested in placing “Freedom Of Information” requests. In the interests of openess and also to aid others in your own FOI requests, i would urge you to use the excellent resource provided by the site “WhatDoTheyKnow.com” and to make things even easier heres the direct link to their “Tower Hamlets Council Page”.

You’ll notice that on the last link their are a number of requests already made by other members of that site, these can be read freely by anyone. You can also as a member offer help in the way of annotations to each request to help others. By law the minimum requirement to make an FOI request is the inclusion of a name and email, this leaves those of you who like like some semblance of anonimity to place these requests. I urge all to join the site (name, password and email are the only requirements) and start your own investigations.  Please try and place all links to FOI requests in your comments on this site, as one way of refusing a request is simply the ‘Public Interest Test’, basically if its not in the public interest they wont publish the information. Hopefully this site could become a resource for highlighting these types of refusals, and campaign for change.

For those of you are really interested and have the time heres the “Council & democracy page” from the councils own website. This provides some links to budgetary reports, and other information that you may find useful.

Another site provided by the same team (MySociety) who provide the above “WhatDoTheyKnow” is the “WriteToThem”. This site is for all of us who want to easily contact our local Councillors, MP, MEPs, MSPs, orNorthern Ireland, Welsh and London AMs for free. This is good for creating campaigns by writing to all of these people, and garnering responses, collating the results and embarrasing the feck out of them until they do something about our greivances. Beware though when creating campaigns as some can easily be refused, here are some simple yet extremely important guidlines from that site: http://www.writetothem.com/about-guidelines

Finally a site i stumbled across this site recently and it seems to me to have the potential to become a great resource, and gathering place for help, advice and guidance to all you budding investigative journalists or otherwise who seek help in investigating any matter. http://helpmeinvestigate.com/ You place an idea or project that you want help investigating and others provide help and insight in how to progress in carrying out your particular investigation. At this point the site is still in the Beta Stage (basically means new and not fully tested/functional etc..) but dont let that put you off. Join up, waiting for confirmation which may take a couple of days and start investigating.

There are possibly dozens, if not hundreds of other useful sites that can help in extracting information, so please if you know of any place them here, so we can help each other.


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Hello world!

September 11, 2009
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Hello World,

Yes I suppose this is probably the right way of introducing this blog. So welcome to all of you that may hopefully find some snippets of information that interest you, regarding all things Tower Hamlets. This blog will probably come across as accusatory towards the council at first, as to be honest, i think that this council has become lax, morally corrupt, and financially unstable. It seems to be selling off all of its assests to the lowest bidder, and at the cost of its own residents, is doing nothing in the way of really trying to make a difference in peoples lives.

In the spirit (hopefully, i can do the name justice) of George Lansbury (1859 – 1940) and some of Tower Hamlets History that revolves around this great man, I hope to provide some counterpoint to the highly propagandized ‘East End Life’ (100% funded by the council) and also the local “East London Advertiser” that IMO is lacking somewhat in its duty to the residents of Tower Hamlets in reporting on the scandolous nature of some parts of the council.

Please try and bear with me in my meanderings, as at times i know myself can become incoherent, and tend to go off on a tangent. I will try and provide as much information as possible to readers, and welcome all comments from residents or otherwise. This will not be a party political blog in anyway, as I have also an inherent distrust of all sides of the political spectrum. I will also try my hardest not to just report the bad side of things in the borough, but as again IMO things are really in such a state, then it will be hard not to. I will place all news reports regarding goings on in Tower Hamlets in the blog for readers to comment on. I will also place all news reports from outside sources that i think affect all residents of the country as well as Tower Hamlets. I will also hopefully use my meandering, incoherent thought process up for anyone to comment on, so please if my writing offends, structurally, prosaically or in any other manner, I apologise. Please feel free to point out mistakes you see in my writing, as this will hopefully enhance the nature of the blog. I urge all readers to offer up stories, links etc that they also find themselves, scour the councils websites, inundate the council with “Freedom Of Information” requests, write to you local councillors or MP.

Hopefully this will become something that can be used as a starting point for us all to see real change in the way our supposed betters behave.

Yours Sincerley

Fatoompsh


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