CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Council urged to hire ‘direct labour force’ in wake of evacuation crisis

Council says Camden must bolster 'in-house capacity'

06 July, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Council leader Georgia Gould

THE Town Hall has been urged to go back to basics and hire an in-house labour workforce to complete building work and repairs in the wake of the Chalcots evacuation crisis.

Camden would then be able to identify more easily who did what work and when, it has been argued, making the system more accountable.

Although the idea is understood to be seen as unpractical and idealistic by some of his council colleagues, former mayor Roger Robinson returned to the suggestion at Monday’s full council meeting. “I’ve always said in the past direct labour force is the answer, although I know it’s probably not,” he said. “We need a lot of people getting together making sure what we are providing in these flats – in the construction in these flats – is absolutely safe.”

Councillor Roger Robinson

The council is set to run a lengthy review which will involve combing through paperwork to find out which contractors – and sub-contractors – did work at the estate and when.

Supporters of the idea of employing builders directly believe that Camden could pool workers with like-minded authorities nearby to spread the cost. Council leader Georgia Gould told the New Journal she “could not make policy up on the spot” when asked her view on a direct labour force, but said the events of the last fortnight had “raised big questions”.

She said: “We need to be able to invest more, to bolster our in-house capacity and bring though a new generation of public servants who can specialise in this work. I am committed to exploring how we do this as a matter of urgency.”

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