Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Action on private rents needed

Camden Labour's motion on Monday will focus on policy to lobby the government on rent controls.  I've set up a campaign an resource blog to get the ball rolling - http://rentactionnow.blogspot.co.uk/ and a twitter feed @LDNrentaction - get in touch camdenist@gmail.com to sign up.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Have your say on changes to council housing

A new public consultation on the future of council housing in our borough has been launched.  

Because of government changes prompted by the government’s Localism Act 2011, the council is required to consult on the end to tenancies-for-life in council housing.  

Obviously, if tenancies were to change to 5- year or 10- year terms this would fundamentally change the nature of council housing once and for all in Camden.  Fixed-term tenancies would uproot new families and also make estates less stable, with more households moving in and out.  Here is a Shelter briefing spelling out the potential changes councils could adopt, see also arguments from Defend Council Housing.

Camden is consulting because it has to ask local people about our policy.  This has caused some concern locally from those who want Camden's Labour administration to rule it out as an option outright.  While sympathetic to this view - it is an attack on traditional council housing - it is right that people are asked first, not least because a strong response defending tenancies-for-life helps to protect council housing. 

As a local Labour Party we stood for election to protect Camden's unique social mix - something that is increasingly under threat due to major government changes to housing benefit, council tax benefit changes and plans to reduce tenant security.  You only have to look next door to Westminster to see how families with long-standing connections to their area are being forced out.  

You don't have to be a tenant to respond.

Please support the retention of secure tenancies for all and support us keeping Camden somewhere where people of all backgrounds can live.  The consultation can be accessed here, with a Q+A.  It closes on 25th July.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Camden a brutalist leader

In this run-down of Brutalist architecture by the Londonist - 7 of the buildings in the top ten are in Camden (Brunswick Centre, Royal College of Physicians, Institute of Education, Centrepoint, Alexandra Way Estate, St.Giles' Hotel, and...Camden Town Hall Annex).

Make that 6.

Haidt on moral roots of liberals and conservatives

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Camden Road Surgery - not an example of private sector expertise

Want to have a peek at what the downsides of increasing private provision in the NHS could be like?  Look no further than the goings on at Camden Road Surgery, a GP practice for almost 100 years, which will shut down on April 13.

Staff have been given their notice and  4,700 patients are being uprooted and told to sign up at practices as far away as Highgate.

It follows the failure of private operators The Practice Plc to negotiate an extension to a lease with the building’s owners or to secure alternative premises nearby.

The company took over the surgery last April from American private health operators UnitedHealth UK, which had previously outbid a consortium of local ­doctors to win the contract to run three practices in Camden in 2008.

The story of how US giant United Health took over three Camden GP practices as been subject of a council-led inquiry and chronicled in the pages of the Camden New Journal in recent weeks. The history of the take-over from 2008 is set out here and by local campaigners here.

The council probe, which began on May 10, is by Camden Council’s health scrutiny panel and looks into the closure of the previously popular Camden Road Practice.

It will consider whether the closure of the surgery, which had 4,700 patients, was avoidable and will scrutinise healthcare provided by the two private firms that managed the surgery from 2008 until its closure in April this year.

Three councillors on the scrutiny panel, chaired by Labour's Angela Mason, listened to evidence from former patients, a retired NHS manager, a former doctor at the surgery and the medical director of Londonwide Local Medical Committees (LMCs).

Evidence gathered raised question about the provision of healthcare from 2008 onwards and the alleged “illegal handover” of the contract for the surgery from one firm to another.  It was alleged that United Health (UH) should have been penalised for sub-contracting the surgery to The Practice PLC three years into a five-year contract. The local press has been carrying reports of how the numbers of patients with serious illnesses inexplicably fell and how the handover of running from one firm to another couldn't have been prevented.  In reality concerns had been expressed locally from 2008 onwards.