The independent London newspaper

We will stand with our communities in need

09 July, 2020

• TALK is cheap – it is actions that matter. That’s what changes lives.

The leader of the Camden Tories Cllr Oliver Cooper wrote about the need to do more to provide family accommodation and support state schools (We need more homes fit for families in the borough, June 25).

Let’s get down to what matters – delivery – and compare our approaches in action.

On schools, the Tories have relentlessly tried to academise our successful community of state schools. Starting in 2010 the coalition government withdrew Building Schools for the Future funding and left a massive black hole in our finances with schools in dire need.

Since then Camden Labour have invested £165million in improved and new schools; 17,000 children now have the first-class learning environments they deserve.

On housing, when the Tories ran Camden their priority was not to build new homes but to sell them off at auction.

And since 2010, from Whitehall, they have tried time and again to undermine affordable housing, whether through trying to expand the Right to Buy, to undercut affordable housing requirements, or to promote the so-called Help to Buy and First Homes programmes.

All this instead of simply investing in genuinely affordable family homes.

The mask finally slipped in recent weeks when Labour in parliament exposed a decision by the housing secretary that saved developers £45million that should have gone to local homes and schools in Tower Hamlets.

Camden Council’s record speaks for itself. We have built the first new council homes in a generation, with almost no national funding.

We have now built almost 900 new homes, three new school buildings, two community centres and two homeless hostels. We have provided new council homes for over 1,000 people, including 447 children.

At Agar Grove, which the Camden Tory leader directly addressed, we are proving new council homes for all the families currently in cramped, low-quality flats by creating award-winning housing that meets the Passivhaus environmental standards – the largest such council scheme in the country.

It’s time for local Conservatives to stop talking down our family of schools, drop their unhealthy obsession with academisation, and urgently reverse the deregulation that has resulted in the explosion of airbnb.

Above all, this government needs to back councils to build genuinely affordable family homes.

None of this is likely to happen, of course. So Camden Labour will continue not just to talk, but to act. We will stand with our communities in need and deliver the schools and homes they deserve.

Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities and an Inclusive Economy


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