At a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee this week, Tower Hamlets Labour Councillors called on the Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets and the Cabinet Member for Housing to review their decision to remove funding from the Ashington House redevelopment scheme, an important project which had the potential to deliver much-needed council housing for the borough. Aspire Councillors subsequently voted to support the removal of the scheme.
The Ashington House scheme is a housing project which aimed to redevelop the existing site for the benefit of its current residents and had the potential to deliver 79 new Council homes for residents which are desperately needed by the homeless and those families who severely overcrowded. In a meeting of the Mayor’s Cabinet on 30th November 2022, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets approved a report which recommended the removal of the Ashington House scheme from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capitol Programme.
A number of Tower Hamlets Labour Councillors requested a review of this decision to overturn much-needed Council housing at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 9th January 2023, and called on the Mayor to adopt the following proposals:
- That the Mayor agree to retain the Ashington House scheme and publish a copy of the feasibility study for the project.
- The Mayor should also publish the feasibility study for the welcome plans to redevelop Albert Jacob House for new council housing and start working on a plan for the similar redevelopment of John Onslow House in Bow.
- Given its positive contribution to the wider local economy and community rather than directly to council tenants, the Mayor should substitute the use of HRA monies for the Watney Market car park for capital reserves from the General Fund.
Aspire Councillors agreed with Mayor Rahman and voted against all of Tower Hamlets Labour’s above proposals to retain this vital project.
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, who requested the review, said:
“The Housing Crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing Londoners, and is getting even worse as it combines with the Cost of Living Crisis. Everyday we hear from residents about their struggles with housing and I know Council homes are desperately needed in Tower Hamlets to ensure the homeless are helped off our streets into secure places they can call home and for the many families living in unacceptable overcrowded conditions.
“One resident of Ashington House got in touch with me this week about her concerns regarding the damp and mould in her home in Ashington House, and her fears for her future health and well-being. Her fears have increased as the Mayor and his Aspire Councillors have voted to drop the Ashington House redevelopment scheme.
“Mayor Rahman and his Aspire Party made many strong promises on housing in its Manifesto and I am very concerned that unjustifiably they have voted against new Council homes for our borough and against improving current Council housing. Our residents deserve better.”
- The Agenda for the Mayor’s Cabinet meeting on 30th November 2022 can be found here
- The Agenda for the Call-In for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 9th January 2023 can be found here