More than 150 Southwark council tenants gathered at Glaziers Hall by London Bridge on Saturday for their seventh annual conference. This year's theme was 'Back to the Future â€“ Has our housing service improved?'
The conference was chaired by Tabard Gardens resident Lionel Wright who reminded delegates that Southwark Council leader Nick Stanton had promised at the previous conference that 'if the housing re-organisation didn't work then residents could return to the original system'. Cllr Stanton was unable to attend this year's conference, but sent executive member for housing Cllr Stephen Flannery to speak in his place.
The chairman condemned Southwark's repairs call centre contractor Pearson for failing to attend the session on that service, and said that the only conclusion tenants could draw was that 'transnational communications leader' Pearson felt unable to defend the record of the Call Centre it runs. In the afternoon delegates voted for the call centre to be brought back into direct Council control.
The mini-debate on antisocial behaviour policy between tenant Ian Ritchie and Robert Read, head of Southwark Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Unit (SASBU), revealed that one year on many delegates were concerned that ASBOs are not an effective way to resolve problems faced by the community. Delegates were concerned that they should not be a substitute for investment into youth and other services local communities need, both in their own right and to deal with underlying problems.
After lunch delegates attended a variety of workshops on topics such as parking, race relations and Housing Options. Later these reported back to the reconvened full conference, which voted on the key points from each.