Candidate's housing programme account is inaccurate

Surely your readers deserve a more accurate account of Camden s improving council housing programme than was provided in Chris Philp s column last week (View from the chamber, H&H October 2). Perhaps he was sore in the aftermath of his team s crushing de

Surely your readers deserve a more accurate account of Camden's improving council housing programme than was provided in Chris Philp's column last week (View from the chamber, H&H October 2).

Perhaps he was sore in the aftermath of his team's crushing defeat in the Hampstead by-election at the hands of Liberal Democrat Linda Chung.

But if he is going to throw his toys out of the pram he at least needs to get his facts right. Unfortunately, in his rush to attack us as Liberal Democrat members of the Executive, he keeps getting the facts wrong.

Firstly, he claims credit for recently having 'approved' the new Decent Homes plan to invest £413m in council properties. But he knows full well that the scrutiny committee he chairs can't decide what the council does. It was the Liberal Democrat Executive who led these decisions, made in 2007 with the full involvement of his Conservative executive colleagues. The contractors are now about to start work.

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Cllr Philp also implies the Lib Dems are to blame for problems with contractors on the Whittington, Chalcots, etc. But he knows these contracts were all agreed and initiated by the previous Labour administration.

Instead we've been working for two years on a new 'partnering' approach to deliver such works better, as most other London boroughs are doing already. While his scrutiny committee has not engaged much in the detail, he really should know this, not least because his Tory colleagues on the executive have backed our proposals on three occasions.

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Cllr Philp claims he delivered the replacement of the Kiln Place heating system in his ward. The thanks are really due to the hard-working staff who changed their schedules to get this done as soon as possible, once we had seen the problems for ourselves.

He doesn't mention that his election leaflets promised to make sure leaseholders wouldn't have to pay for this - a promise which he hasn't been able to honour, because he couldn't.

He then moves on to criticise the council's record in addressing anti-social behaviour (ASB) on estates. Contrary to his assertions, we are regularly using new powers to 'demote' the tenancies of persistent offenders.

This makes it easier for the council to evict if it does not trigger changes in behaviour. We also regularly pursue evictions to close crack houses on council estates.

Sadly, he makes no reference to the excellent work Camden's new ASB coordinators - just appointed by the Liberal Democrats - are doing, most obviously in Cllr Philp's ward. Recently nominated for an 'Outstanding Services to Camden' award, his local ASB officer has already carried out 30 warning visits and interviews with families involved in ASB. In addition, we have just deployed a team of street wardens to focus on ASB and youth disorder on Gospel Oak estates. Again, Cllr Philp seems blissfully ignorant.

Perhaps he has been too busy fighting a losing campaign in Hampstead to notice what is going on in his own ward? Or perhaps his attacks are really coded criticisms of his Tory colleagues?

It seems that Cllr Philp's take on his role as a parliamentary candidate may be that he can indulge in a bit of spin and even be economical with the truth. But in his role as one of Camden's scrutiny chairs, an important function written into the borough's constitution, high standards of accuracy and probity are required.

If he is having difficulty in combining these two roles, perhaps he needs to consider whether they are compatible.

Cllr James King

Executive Member Community Safety and Housing Services

Cllr Chris Naylor

Executive Member Homes and Housing Strategy

Camden Council

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