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Tabard Gardens: leaseholders condemn council’s decision

A group of leaseholders on the Tabard Gardens Estate in the Borough are objecting to Southwark's cancellation of a ballot on the transfer of the estate to a housing association.

Waterloo-based Peabody Trust had put together a business plan to invest over 76 million on the estate. Southwark can only see the need for 23 million investment, which would bring the estate up to the legal minimum requirements. Southwark Council has no current proposals on how that money could be raised.

The Tabard Leaseholders Association claims that Tabard Gardens has suffered from lack of funds for decades, with not even necessary day to day repairs carried out.

Southwark are now preventing a democratic ballot on the estate. An draft offer document was sent out in October and the Leaseholders Association responded with constructive suggestions for a final offer document. In particular it said: "Leaseholders see that a stock transfer would provide great opportunities for Tabard, not only to refurbish the blocks, but also for modern community facilities, better management and an environment that people want to live in." Southwark now suggest that no residents replied to them saying they wanted the transfer. This, say the leaseholders, is simply untrue.

Mr Andrea Woelke, Chairman of Tabard Leaseholders Association, which represents 30% of the estate's 285 leaseholders, dismissed the council's claims as "pure spin". He added "Even on Southwark's MORI poll, the division was 28/34/38 between yes/no/undecided. Cllr Beverley Bassom could equally have said: 'Two thirds of residents are either in favour or undecided.'"

The leaseholders claim that has been a very active "No" campaign on the estate by a small group of people who are politically motivated. At one meeting, which was publicised by them by leafleting all residents, it is alleged that only about 20 supporters turned up.

Andrea Woelke said: "It is not acceptable to have rule by 'Who shouts loudest, wins.' Leaseholders on Tabard want a democratic ballot. We are very disappointed by the Liberal Democrat Council, who included in their manifesto that they would let the residents on the estate decide whether or not to transfer. The ballot must go ahead."

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