Councillors criticise private company’s failure to provide “basic information” about its proposals to take over council housing on the Lothian estate

Local councillors have expressed their concern that a private, for-profit company attempting to take control of local council homes on the Lothian estate has failed to provide basic information about its plan, including how they plan to fund housing repairs and who is behind its takeover bid.

Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Reducing Homelessness, expressed her disappointment in a letter to council tenants last week. Cllr Kay laid out six key and “basic” areas where the private company have failed to provide sufficient information for a ballot to be held on whether council homes should be transferred to their control.

In the early autumn, Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd, supported by PACCA TMO, announced their intention to try and take over ownership of council homes on the Lothian estate, despite the organisation having no track record of running council housing elsewhere in the country. A ballot of council tenants would need to be held to approve the transfer of the council homes from Lambeth Council to the private company. In November, Cllr Kay wrote a strongly worded letter to tenants warning these proposals could leave them worse off financially. In addition, local councillors Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop have raised concerns that leaseholders, owing to national legislation, will be excluded from the ballot, but will have their leases transferred to this private company should tenants vote “yes” to the proposals in a ballot. Cllr Gadsby and Cllr Gallop have also expressed their concern that the delay caused by Vision Homes Ltd is resulting in stress to the local community, with residents being left in limbo about the future of their homes.

A full copy of Cllr Kay’s letter to residents can be read below.

Dear Resident,

The Future of Your Home – Proposed Right to Transfer Application by PACCA TMO and Vision Homes (Lambeth) Limited

I am writing to provide you with an update on PACCA TMO Ltd (PACCA TMO) and their current partner Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd’s proposals to take over the ownership and management of your homes in the Lothian Estate and others in and around Patmos Road.

This proposal is a result of national legislation which means PACCA TMO are able to submit a Right to Transfer application on 284 council and leasehold properties in the area, and conduct a ballot of residents on their proposals.

Lambeth Council does not support this proposal, but under the Right to Transfer rules it has no option other than to comply with holding a ballot. We cannot stop the proposal simply because we believe you would be worse off if the transfer proceeds.

Before a ballot can take place, PACCA TMO and Vision Homes must develop an offer document. The document should clearly set out what Vision Homes aims to do to the estate and comparing this with what would happen if the properties’ ownership remained with Lambeth Council. This document was due to be sent out to you before Christmas for consideration.

Following several months of chasing PACCA TMO and Vision Homes on the specifics of their plans and asking straight-forward questions on their proposals, Vision Homes have not provided sufficient information or explanations to meet the requirements set out by the Government. These outstanding issues include:

  • Insufficient information has been provided about whom the company would borrow capital from to fund its promises to you, the length of their loan repayments, and what safeguards are in place if they cannot repay the money borrowed.
  • It is unclear what household repairs and home improvements will be offered to residents. Each tenant should be able identify the works that will be carried out to their home if the transfer goes ahead.
  • The identity and status of your potential new landlord remains unclear.
  • A lack of information as to how tenants, community stakeholders and elected councillors will be selected on to a board that oversees the management of the estate and street properties – and how these members will be chosen in the future.
  • Who is sitting on the shadow board pushing forward this proposal, including information about their relevant experience.
  • A lack of information on other properties and estates managed by Vision Homes, so that tenants have an idea of their track record.

We are disappointed that PACCA TMO and Vision Homes have not been forthcoming with some of these really important questions. We will continue to ask these questions and more information has been requested to finalise the offer document for you to consider. Until then, this means that any ballot on the proposal is now delayed.

We will write to you in the New Year with an update on this proposal and any agreed next steps. We apologise for the delay, but it is important that residents have all the information so that you can make an informed decision.

I wish you and your families all have a happy Christmas break, and a happy New Year. If you have any queries on this proposed transfer, you can contact the Council on a dedicated line: 07565 219058.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Maria Kay

Cabinet Member for Better Homes and Reducing Homelessness

Drop-in events announced for Lothian estate residents about threatened “stock transfer” of local council homes

Myatt’s Fields councillors have organised two drop-in events this week for residents on the Lothian estate who want to discuss the threatened “stock transfer” of local council homes to a for profit, private company.

The proposals, if approved by a ballot, could see council tenant homes transferred from Lambeth Council to Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd and PACCA TMO. Earlier this month, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Homelessness and Housing, Councillor Maria Kay, wrote a strongly worded letter to tenants warning these proposals could leave them worse off financially. Local councillors have also raised concerns that leaseholders, owing to national legislation, will be excluded from the ballot, but will have their leases transferred to this private company should tenants vote “yes” to the proposals.

Lothian estate residents can talk to councillors about these issues at two events this week:

Location

St John the Divine community hall, 92 Vassall Road, London, SW9 6JA

Dates

Thursday 24 November, from 7:00pm – 8:30pm.

Saturday 26 November, from 11:00am – 12:30pm.

Lothian estate homes transfer to for-profit company ‘will raise rents’, claims senior councillor.

Controversial plans by a private for-profit company to take control of a housing estate in Myatt’s Fields have been condemned by Lambeth council’s housing chief.

Rents are likely to rise if Vision Homes, a for-profit company, succeeds in taking over properties on the Lothian estate, according to Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s cabinet member responsible for homelessness and better homes.

In a strongly-worded letter to residents, Cllr Kay says says people who live in the area risk higher rents and service charges if they vote to accept the proposal from Vision Homes which, she claims, has no registered employees and no track record of managing properties.

Vision Homes, working alongside Pacca TMO, which used to run the estate, intends to ballot residents on the proposal in the near future — although no date for the vote has been revealed by the company.

In her letter, Cllr Kay, who has been talking to residents alongside local Councillors Annie Gallop and Paul Gadsby, said Vision Homes has “no registered employees and no track record in owning, developing, or even managing social housing.

“The proposals from Vision Homes could mean you pay more: from your rents and service charges to the repairs and maintenance activities to your homes, as Vision Homes would charge VAT on top of these costs,” she said. “If Vision Homes were to also sell your homes to another company in the future, they will not be required to ballot or obtain consent from the Housing Regulator.”

“It is unclear to me how they will fund the promises they are making to you and your neighbours. Vision Homes’ plans don’t add up, and they do not make financial sense.”

You can read Cllr Kay’s letter here.

New funding for sustainable travel in Myatt’s Fields

Myatt’s Fields is to get a share of a multi-million pound investment by Lambeth Borough Council aimed at boosting sustainable travel across our communities.

Called ‘The Big Shift’, it follows a campaign by councillors Annie Gallop and Paul Gadsby calling for action to address serious traffic-related issues, including rat-running and heavy congestion. The councillors welcomed the move and thanked the authority for taking notice of the many residents who supported their campaign.

Launching the new funding programme, Lambeth Council said:

“The climate crisis and the rising cost of living pose very real threats to the livelihoods of people who live and work in Lambeth today. If we are to meet those challenges head on and create a more equal borough for all of us, we all need to make changes in our lives – including in how we travel around Lambeth. That’s why we have launched The Big Shift – a £17.7 million investment which brings life to Lambeth Labour’s ambitious plan to cut air pollution, reduce road danger, support access and mobility, and help people choose public transport, walking, cycling, and scooting more often.

“Over the coming months we will announce new school streets, more protected cycle lanes, a huge increase in bike storage for residents, more electric vehicle charging points, community grants for local greening projects, investment into micromobility hubs, parklets and new walking routes, and seven new Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes. We are also supporting local businesses to make the transition to making deliveries by e-cargo bike, in partnership with Peddle My Wheels.”

Myatt’s Fields is one of the target areas that will receive part of the investment: this followed a campaign by Cllrs Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop which highlighted a variety of traffic problems in the community, including congestion on Loughborough Road, speeding around Myatt’s Fields Park and rat running along Patmos and Akerman Roads. Recently, councillors handed in a survey of more than 200 residents about these issues and organised a walkabout in the area for Cllr Rezina Chowdhury, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, to see first-hand some of the worst hotspots and meet local residents.  Lambeth Council’s research has identified parts of our ward as suffering from the worst traffic related problems in Lambeth. 

Cllr Paul Gadsby and Cllr Annie Gallop said:

“It is really positive news to see that Lambeth has acknowledged the problems on our local roads: we are particularly grateful to Cllr Chowdhury for listening to residents who contributed to our recent surveys and for visiting Myatt’s Fields to meet residents who have to live with dangerous driving or heavy congestion on a daily basis.

“Lambeth Council has given us a pledge to work with local residents to find how best to use the new funding, with discussions beginning in the next financial year.”

More information about the “Big Shift” can be found here.

Lothian estate residents will be left “worse off” if stock transfer goes ahead

Secure tenants and leaseholders on the Lothian estate will be “left worse off” should control of their homes pass to a for-profit private company, Lambeth’s Housing Cabinet Member has claimed.

The statement came in an answer to questions submitted by Myatt’s Fields councillors Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop at Lambeth Council’s public meeting on Wednesday 19 October. Residents and local councillors have already voiced their concerns about a ballot that could see PACCA TMO Limited and Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd, a for-profit company take over ownership of the council properties on the Lothian Estate area.

Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd have no track record of running social housing and have been, according to Lambeth Housing Cabinet Member Cllr Maria Kay, “unclear” about how they will fund a list of expensive promises to residents.

Cllr Kay also expressed concerns that if there was a “yes” vote in the ballot, the ownership of homes could be passed by Vision Homes to another owner, without the consent of residents. She also confirmed that leaseholders are excluded by national legislation from taking part in the ballot.

You can read the full text of Cllr Gadsby and Cllr Gallop’s questions at the meeting here, listed under questions four and nineteen.

If you worried or confused about this proposed takeover and want to know more, you can contact your local councillors Paul and Annie here – and give us your views on the proposals here.

A date for the proposed ballot has yet to be set but is likely to be in the next few months. Council tenant and leaseholder properties affected by these proposals are on the following streets:

  • Lothian Road (Dalkeith House, Silverburn House and Bathgate House)
  • Langton Road
  • Frederick Crescent
  • Myatt Road
  • Halsmere Road
  • Patmos Road
  • Tindall Street
  • Elliott Road
  • Cancell Road

Local councillors are urging council tenants to reject plans for a stock transfer attempt on their homes

Local councillors have urged council tenants on the Lothian estate area (formerly the PACCA TMO area) to reject proposals from a for-profit company to take control of their homes.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has approved an application by PACCA TMO Limited and Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd, a for-profit company, to conduct a ballot on the future ownership of the council properties on the Lothian Estate area. If they are successful in the ballot, the homes will be transferred out of the control of the local council and will be run by Vision Homes.

In a letter to council tenants, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Maria Kay, laid out the reasons why residents should be concerned about these proposals and vote no in the upcoming ballot: you can read her letter in full here.

Myatt’s Fields councillors Annie Gallop and Paul Gadsby have backed Cllr Kay’s comments, saying:

“These proposals have already caused a great deal of alarm in the community: we have received numerous communications from residents who are deeply concerned about how this has happened

“If successful, it will be the first time anywhere in the country where a for-profit company has taken control of council homes in this way. Vision Homes (Lambeth) Limited are a “for profit” company with no track record in owning or managing social housing. They will be able to charge residents more for their services and could pass on control of the housing, and the land on which it sits, to another organisation without a ballot.

“Although only council tenants are able to vote in this ballot, leaseholders in the area will have their lease transferred to the for-profit private company in the event of a “yes” vote”. We do think it is very unfair that leaseholders are unable to vote owing to the rules laid down by very badly drawn-up national legislation.

“We urge residents to make sure they vote No, in this important ballot: its outcome will have an impact on the daily lives of everyone in the Lothian estate area.”

A date for the ballot has yet to be set, but is likely to be in the next few months. Council tenant and leaseholder properties affected by these proposals are on the following streets:

  • Lothian Road (Dalkeith House, Silverburn House and Bathgate House)
  • Langton Road
  • Frederick Crescent
  • Myatt Road
  • Halsmere Road
  • Patmos Road
  • Tindall Street
  • Elliott Road
  • Cancell Road

If you worried or confused about this proposed takeover and want to know more, you can contact your local councillors Paul and Annie here – and give us your views on the proposals here.

Lambeth urged to act on traffic problems following two residents’ surveys in Myatt’s Fields

Local Labour councillors are demanding new action on traffic in Myatt’s Fields, based on evidence gathered in two snapshot surveys.

The surveys – organised by Cllrs Paul Gadsby and Cllr Annie Gallop – revealed strong support for action to deal with speeding vehicles and dangerous driving around Myatt’s Fields Park and Akerman Road. The results of the petitions, based on two questionnaires, were handed into Lambeth council by Cllr Gadsby on behalf of the Labour team.  Lambeth Council are now formally required to respond to the surveys.

The councillors said:

“Thank you to all residents who took the time to fill in the surveys. They clearly demonstrate real concerns about speeding vehicles and dangerous driving in these closely connected neighbourhoods.

“As councillors, we have also received similar speeding concerns on Patmos Road which connects into Akerman Road, and a local Residents Association on Loughborough Road has been highlighting for many years problems with congestion there.

“ We are asking Lambeth Council to take a look at all these issues together and put in place a comprehensive plan that makes local roads safer.“

The headlines from the surveys, which were prompted by local concerns, are:

83 responses were received to the Myatt’s Fields Park survey, with 160 residents saying there was a problem with speeding cars in the area. In this survey, the top asks from residents were:

128 – Better enforcement of the 20mph speed limit

113 – Introduction of speed bumps

82 – Better facilities for cyclists

32 – Improvement/resurfacing of local roads

55 responses were received for a survey about speeding on Akerman Road, with 52 respondents stating there was a problem with speeding on the road.

A variety of suggestions were made about how to tackle the problem, including better enforcement of the 20mph speed limit, including the introduction of speed cameras, and  speed humps being put into the area.

Cllr Paul Gadsby at July’s Lambeth Council meeting