Tabard Gardens - Where's Democracy?

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Wednesday 20 November 2002 2.01pm
I can't believe a Liberal Democrat Council have called off a democratic ballot of Tabard Gardens residents on whether they want to transfer the estate to Peabody Trust.

Peabody have given us the only chance in decades for investment on the estate. Southwark have no proposals for anything at all. They have neglected the estate for decades.

A very vocal idiologically motivated small group of people have hijacked the debate and Southwark has cancelled the ballot.

As the Chairman of Tabard Leaseholders Association, I have worked closely with Peabody to improve the offer for leaseholders. Tenants have had a pretty good offer to start with: no increase in rent compared to Southwark, same rights under their tenancy, but massive investment.

The ballot must be put back on the agenda! Where is are the Democrats in the "Liberal Democrats".

Very disappointed

Andrea Woelke
Wednesday 20 November 2002 2.23pm
I agree with your letter. Southwark Council have an enormous task managing their property over the whole borough. The opportunity to transfer the whole of the Tabard Estate to the Peabody Trust is good for the residents (tenants and leaseholders) and good for Southwark Council. To abandon the ballot and maybe the whole project is a dreadful waste of energy and a wasted opportunity.

Stephen Harrison
Wednesday 20 November 2002 2.58pm
It does seem strange that one of the reasons given for calling off the ballot is the result of a telephone poll. As a market researcher I would argue that a telephone poll is no substitute for a ballot, no matter how well conducted. I would also think that a telephone poll would be on a par cost-wise with a ballot, so I don't understand the rationale ffor conducting a telephone poll in the first place.

If you wish to conduct your own study in order to present the results to the council, I would be happy to advise you free of charge.
Wednesday 20 November 2002 3.07pm
I agree that the cancellation of the ballot is un democratic and I also believe it plays into the hands of the anti transfer group.

Many people have put in a lot of time (without necessarily having decided to vote yes or no) to try and ensure that the Peabody offer is a good offer for residents of Tabard.

I find it hard to believe that as a tenant you would choose to vote no to all the offered improvements and retained rights if you fully understood the proposal. Tenants would probably benefit even more than leaseholders as they have no large capital costs to contribute towards.

I am extremely shocked by the personally abusive tactics employed by TAGCAT as seen by all in their 'newsletters'. This can only result in people with good intentions and an interest in the community being forced to stay away from the running of the estate. That is not democracy or open discussion and debate.

The council must let all residents have their say and not just focus on the noisy group of no voters.
Thursday 21 November 2002 11.35am
What on earth is going on? How can a democratic vote be cancelled without the consent of the voters?

Of course this consultation has had a luke warm reception! During the build up to a general election people get canvassed and harrassed to find out which way they will vote. Those ticks on pages on the doorsteps don't by any means represent a loss of victory for any party. It's on ballot day that democracy begins, and most resisdents are waiting for voting day to give their personal decision. How dare anyone take that right away....especially a party that has 'Democrat' in their title!

In my personal experiance living a floor up from the show flat, the people expressing a positive view about the transfer far out number the negative. In fact only the old lady that sits outside asking people to sign on to the no campaign (a blank sheet, bless her) is the only person I've spoken to who is definatley against it!

The only way to find out what people really want is to put it to a vote.
Thursday 21 November 2002 12.01pm
Having had the pleasure of having lived in both Peabody Trust and Southwark Council property over the years, regardless of whether a vote takes place or not, I can tell you who I would much rather have as my landlord: Peabody any day. Southwark Council are possibly one of the worst landlords I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Indeed, even compared to a few private landlords I have been with, the council always rank the worst. If you get the choice, get out, any alternative is always better!
Thursday 21 November 2002 12.09pm
From LBS press release:
'...we have always said we would never force people to go down the transfer route. We have done exactly as we promised and listened to the views of the community.'

Wasn't that what the ballot on transfer was meant to do? Offer the views of the community in a structured and measurable way? Listening to the handful of 'No Transfer' campaigners' bleatings and drum banging and then making sweeping assumptions is an amateur, pathetic and undemocratic way of dealing with an issue that affects thousands of people. Those people deserve an opportunity to have their own individual voices heard.

What LBS has done is precisely the reverse of what they promised. They HAVE NOT offered the community a choice, they have decided what the community wants without formally asking the residents of the estate.
Saturday 23 November 2002 1.04pm
This is simply not democracy!

I was led to believe that the Liberal "DEMOCRAT" Council were going to give the residents of Tabard Gardens a fair chance to have their say in the proposed transfer of estate management to the Peabody Trust.

Presently we are living on an estate that, to be perfectly frank, is in a sadly neglected state of disrepair. The Peabody Trust had presented a viable proposal to bring the estate up to a decent standard at no additional cost to tenants, and to provide a reliable and consistent management service for its future upkeep.

Speaking of the future, what do we have now? Nothing. Cllr Bassom suggests that a minimum of 23 million should be spent on the estate to bring it up to a "basic" standard. The only solid proposal made thus far is that the Council meet in the New Year to discuss the alternatives. This is simply not good enough. How much longer will residents have to go on living in sub-standard accommodation in the midst of a far from appealing environment?

I am now very suspicious of the Councils motives behind the ballot cancellation. What else can it have in mind for the estate when there is no other concrete proposal on the table? Sadly, I am starting to think that the estate, which everyone knows is situated on a prime piece of land that many a real estate developer is itching to get its hands on, has no future. If we continue with the current level of investment then Tabard Gardens could well fall into such a state of disrepair that it will be beyond salvage. Then what? Complete demolition?

The Liberal Democratic Council in Southwark has a moral obligation to give the two thirds of those Tabard Garden residents, who are either in favour of the transfer or are undecided, a chance to have a say in the future of their homes.
Monday 25 November 2002 1.57pm
I am the Executive member for Housing on Southwark Council.

We have listened to what tenants have to say and it is clear that a ballot now would result in a no vote. It would be grossly unfair of us to put tenants through that process knowing what the outcome would be.

In the run up to our decision to call off the ballot - which was taken in consultation with Peabody - council officers and ward councillors spent a vast amount of time on and off the estate talking to residents about the proposed transfer and found little public support. This, coupled with independent survey evidence, left us in no doubt that a ballot would result in a no vote.

The council stands by its decision not to proceed to ballot. We believe it was the right thing to do.
Monday 25 November 2002 2.29pm
I would like to request a little more detail on the market reseach that was conducted and resulted in the councils decision.

I have posted my request here because unfortunately none of the councillors I wrote to directly, have bothered to respond, whilst it is clear that this board is being noted!

It is excellent to hear that one of Southwark councils main concerns is 'fairness to tenants' and I am sure that with that in mind they will be happy to supply a little more information as requested.
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