Tom Copley calls for apology from Deputy Mayor for Policing
December 3rd, 2014
Tom Copley AM has written to the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, calling for him to apologise over his handling of the proposed eviction of tenants from their Met Police-owned homes. He has also asked the Deputy Mayor to give assistance to tenants who have already been evicted.
The text of the letter is below:
MOPAC residential properties
As you will be aware I have been assisting residents at Griffiths Road, Wimbledon and Raynesfield in Raynes Park who live in properties owned by MOPAC and managed by Crown Simmons Housing Association. I raised the case of these tenants with the Mayor at a Plenary meeting in March this year, and have also sent written correspondence including forwarding a petition of 1,700 signatures since then.
On Friday (28th November) you issued a press release saying that you were stopping the evictions at Raynesfield and the ‘getwestlondon’ website also reported a similar case at the Broadmead block of flats in Auriol Road, Hammersmith. I am pleased that the resident’s long running campaign paid off and that you have reconsidered your decision, however I do have serious concerns about how this has been handled.
The tone of the press release, which states you had ‘intervened to stop the sale’ was misleading. It was your decision as Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime to sign off the MOPAC 2013-16 Estates Strategy which led to the 18 households moving and the (very real) threat of eviction to the remaining households. These facts have been known to you for some time – you signed the Estates Strategy and this has been raised with you on numerous occasions by politicians and residents alike, yet you have consistently refused to change your mind until this point. It appears to me it was in fact the strength of the residents’ campaign and the associated publicity which led to your U-turn, but your press work on both cases at Raynesfield and the Broadmead block of flats in Auriol Road, Hammersmith paints a very different picture. Your press release and quotes imply that you along with your colleagues have stopped this decision – this seems to me to be a blatant attempt at spinning a story to claim political credit, thereby not only misleading the public but also hugely insulting to all those residents who have campaigned to save these homes.
The press release ‘Deputy Mayor intervenes to keep residents in their homes’ (published 28th November on london.gov.uk) said that you were not happy with the way residents were treated, however it was your Estates Strategy and your Department that put them in this precarious position of uncertainty in the first place. Many residents have been forced to live out of boxes as the eviction date approached, and others had already left. There is no doubt that your unwillingness to reconsider this decision earlier has led to over six months of anxiety and uncertainty for all the residents involved.
The 2013-16 MOPAC Estates Strategy on page 8 said that the Met Police owned 174 residential properties and then on page 9 states that the aim is to ‘Reduce the amount of residential accommodation owned by MOPAC to no more than 200 units whilst working with Residential Providers to offer affordable accommodation to officers and staff close to where they work’. Can you clarify the number of properties the MOPAC owned when the report was published in May 2013, how many units have now been sold and how many have been retained? Are there plans for any further disposals? You were also reported as saying ‘We thought these were short-hold tenants’ – can you explain why it has taken months for this to come to light?
I also think the residents deserve some assurances about their longer term position. Will those who left their properties at Griffiths Road due to the eviction notices (all 9 households) and Raynes Park (9 households vacated out of 28) now be offered to be rehoused in the homes they recently vacated, and compensate them for the costs they have incurred from moving? Can you also commit that these households, and those that stayed will now be offered secure long-term tenancies? Will you clarify who will be managing the properties, as I understand the Crown Simmons Lease expires at the end of this year and whoever manages these properties should commit to keeping the rents genuinely affordable? Your press release also states that you have ‘Introduced a new approach so that eviction of long-standing tenants, some of whom are key workers, cannot arise in future’ I would be grateful if you could forward me the new policy that you have produced.
I note that you ‘apologised for the stress it’s caused tenants’ which I welcome. I think you should also now apologise to the residents for trying to claim credit from their case, and shamelessly using their plight to promote yourself and your colleagues.
I look forward to hearing from you. I await your response.
Tom Copley AM
London-wide Assembly Member