Harlow Council leader defends use of office blocks to home Harlow families

News / Sat 2nd Jun 2018 at 04:56pm

Markk Ingall

RECENTLY, the new leader of Harlow Council described the conversion of office blocks into accommodation as an “ill thought out piece of Tory legislation”.

So it came as a bit of a surprise in some quarters, that his own council was using the very same blocks to house Harlow families.

So we asked Harlow Council boss, Cllr Mark Ingall to take us through the decision making process on this one.

Cllr Ingall said: “At a time of national housing shortages, we are not ideologically opposed to finding innovative approaches to housing tenants on a temporary, emergency basis, including in converted commercial premises. Harlow Council uses one floor in a converted office building in Templefields for urgent, short term housing needs.

“However, these conversions are not suitable for long term accommodation, particularly for families with children, as they are generally sited away from amenities and transport.

“Furthermore, the government legislation that allows them, means they are not subject to the usual oversight of the local authority and this creates any number of problems for those living in them.

“The other serious issue we are facing with these kinds of developments is that London boroughs are effectively exporting their housing problem to Harlow by relocating people who are in need of housing to these developments but contributing nothing towards the infrastructure we need to provide for them – schools, transport and medical facilities.

“This has negative consequences for all our residents and simply is not fair.

“We will continue to do all that we can to ensure that Harlow residents who are accommodated in these conversions are housed in more suitable accommodation as quickly as possible. However with regards to the problem of people being moved “en masse” from overcrowded London boroughs, our hands are tied by this ill thought out Tory legislation.”

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26 Comments for Harlow Council leader defends use of office blocks to home Harlow families:

2018-06-02 17:06:37

Councillor Ingall continuing his strong start as council leader with some good common sense solutions to Harlow's housing issues, reacting as best he can to a national one size fits all Tory policy which, surprise surprise, isn't worth the paper it's printed on Homelessness is on the rise in the UK in yet another example of a heartless government that only cares about the haves and the have yachts. We must do all we can to ensure people have a roof over their heads in the short term and longer term, have more suitable housing that meets their needs.

2018-06-02 17:29:02

London councils are dumping their problem families onto our town and our elected representatives are so nieve they say nothing.

2018-06-02 17:43:18

It may have escaped your attention Carra but this town was first populated by people mainly from London. I'd also like to see evidence of these "problem families" of which you speak. Or is this another divisive and wholly untrue Micky-like comment of "well, they're all the same aren't they"? I do hope not.

2018-06-02 19:57:37

Wrong yet again. Why do you think that the Harlow RFC has red colours? The "Rams". Because of the massive influx of Welsh residents, schoolteachers too who were most definitely Socialists. So much for your local knowledge!!!!

2018-06-02 20:05:28

Glad that you noticed carra. The troll assumes far too much proving that he ain't local. His script is merde,all from his master's at Central Office. Hard Hard leftie along with his darling, can't do any wrong leader. Spread the word carra,they're evil. Socialism spreads P O V E R T Y

2018-06-02 20:41:18

Literally hundreds of people and families came to this town from the bombed out East End at the end of the war. Documented evidence, on this site no less, reveals that. Read a bit and you might learn something. Oh I am local thank you very much, Peter. Oops. Did I reveal something I shouldn't have? Dearie me. I'm not calling anyone evil and yet I'm the troll. Hopelessly confused as ever. I'm the most fun you've ever had.

2018-06-02 20:58:39

Hmm... nothing on here about the massive influx of people from Wales that you spoke of. Plenty about movement from a place called "London" though. Perhaps you've heard of it. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol8/pp149-158

2018-06-02 21:30:41

Well two wrongs don't make a right. Yes the conservatives were wrong to pass legislation which allows offices being converted to flats without councils having any say in the matter, but Labour Councils are fuelling such conversions by placing homeless families in such accommodation. Cllr Ingall does not say how long short term means but I suspect that any time is to long for people who are homeless for whatever reason. I understand that 26 homeless families from Lewisham are living in Terminus House and a similar number from Enfield in Redstone House, both Labour controlled Councils.In the meantime we have proposals to build 42 luxury flats on the Lister House site, so called affordable rented homes (about £200 per week) built on other Council owned land, I don't suppose any of these families cooped up in tiny flats have any hope of getting such a home any time soon. I suspect the revolution I think is needed to change the broken housing market is not to far from what JFQ might support, more council homes at council rent levels.

2018-06-02 22:01:58

The overarching blame can be laid at the door of the Conservative Party for the fiasco that is housing in 21st century Britain. Here's how: With the right to buy scheme, the Tories sold off our council housing stock, paid for by our taxes, and didn't build any new social housing. Indeed, under the coalition government, David Cameron himself pulled back on new, actually affordable housing because he said it would only create Labour voters. Party before country as usual. And now we have the old Tory trick of imposing laws upon urban councils (likely as not to be Labour run) who have no choice but to follow them and the Conservative Party know that the local authority will get the blame. This is a party constantly washing its hands of issues affecting real people, an irresponsible cabal not interested unless you can afford 25k a plate for one of their fundraisers. This government is a tired, broken down relic of a bygone age, as evidenced by their increasingly ridiculous efforts to get more younger people involved in the membership. I'd call them a zombie government but even zombies have a little life in them. When finally put out of their misery, they'll be out power for a generation or more.

2018-06-02 22:11:00

I should have said what hope for the Harlow homeless families getting the accommodation I mentioned in Harlow, not those from London Boroughs. Those from London will have to be given long term housing in the Borough they came from.The other fact which sets these families apart from those that came to Harlow in the 1950's is that those that came here in the 1950's chose to do so.. The families now coming from London have little or no choice, if temporary homes are offered to homeless families and they refuse the offer then the Council can say that they no longer deem them to be their responsibility.

2018-06-02 22:40:07

Well as usual JFQ you are picking out certain facts but missing out others to suit your own ends. so let me give readers the full picture. The present housing crisis can be laid at the doors of both main political parties since at least 1980. Yes the Tories did bring in Right To Buy in 1980, but did not allow Council's to use the proceeds to build more council houses as it said it would. The Labour Party in opposition until 1997 said that they would release these monies but when they came into power that year they immediately said that council's could not do so if they had debt (which almost all do have). The money Harlow Council had accumulated payed off debt. During the years 1997 to 2010 on average less than 600 council homes were built each year across the whole country. Housing Associations were left to try and fill the gap between demand and supply but were never able to do so. Radical changes in housing policy is needed if this crisis is to be overcome, neither party is willing to take on this subject, massive house building programmes in itself will not solve the problem.

2018-06-02 22:49:54

Labour's manifesto details that they will create a Department for Housing to tackle the problem. One of the reasons the Labour government of 1997 onwards didn't build as many houses was because the lack of a fully costed plan and dealing with nearly two decades worth of Tory disinvestment in essential services had to come first. Plus the internal divisions within the party didn't help. The Labour Party now have a radical plan to increase house building as well as investing in our public services, by clamping down on the tax avoidance that blights our country and a fairer tax system for all.

2018-06-02 23:11:24

Such a radical plan will need to include clamping down on foreign investors buying homes (such as at the former Pearson building which is being advertised in Chinese advert), people buying holiday homes pricing out local young people, allowing Council's to spend 100% of RTB receipts to build new homes, paying incentives to people downsizing, giving incentives to build bungalows and other types of accommodation for people with physical impairment, having a common waiting list policy for Council homes so that housing need can be truly measured, then sorry to say in 2031 when Council's Local Plans come to an end, the country will still have a housing crisis.

2018-06-03 06:19:44

Many external factors involved here, not least of which the forthcoming Brexit catastrophe which is already having an impact on house prices and business investment. This is why we need a government with a more radical approach to the housing crisis, one not beholden to donors with ulterior motives, a system shown to have failed time and again. Landowners can't be allowed to sit on land for years and years, if they don't build truly affordable properties then the councils should be able to take the land back for social housing. This will make the development companies more responsive to people's needs and engender a more ethical business model.

2018-06-03 08:12:26

Well said Carra. Also what everyone has failed to mention is the unchecked mass immigration to the UK. 500,000 people a year is bound to have an impact not just on Housing but also Schools & Healthcare. Blair and Labour started it and the current Government are not doing anything to control the situation. Yes we will always need a level of immigration but the key word is CONTROLLED. It's time to face up to facts we don't have a housing issue or a healthcare issue, we do have an immigration issue.

2018-06-03 09:51:59

This will make the development companies more responsive to people’s needs and engender a more ethical business model,end quote You must be on another planet if you think that will happen as along with the banks all they want is obscene profit and that applies to whoever is running the country,as Maverick states immigration is the cause of the problem but few are prepared to stand up and say it in case of being labelled racist.

2018-06-03 10:51:35

I'm sorry Maverick, I'm not sending you to Fighter Weapons School in Miramar with that attitude. Time for a few home truths for both of you. The UK is not the world power it once was when it raped and pillaged its way across the seas in the name of conquest. In truth, it never was. Since at least the start of the First World War, we've been a second rate power or lower, propped up by first the United States and then the European Union (which I might add, successive governments tried to join for years in order to save our anemic economy from itself). As we've seen from the mess we're making of the Brexit negotiations, all our problems are of our own making and nothing to do with the right wing European bogeyman. We need immigration for people to come in and do the jobs that Brits frankly see as beneath them. This has been happening for decades, fish and chip shops and newsagents being run by ethnic minorities for example are nothing new. We have an ageing population and a shortage of people willing to do the jobs that keep our economy going. Would you pick fruit in the fields for 10 hours a day? Didn't think so. The cold hard truth is this country is built, and always has been built, on migrant labour. Government policy on housing has never caught up fully with this fact despite the fact that immigrants are a net contributor to the tax intake. By all means bemoan the state of social housing. But don't fall into the trap of blaming the immigrants for it, they're not the ones spending your money poorly on missile systems that we'll never use or pointless top down reorganisations of our health service that nobody wanted.

2018-06-03 19:07:59

How many times did say this in full council. UKIP have always brought this up. Since when have the Labour party been here for the people of Harlow. Two faced, credit snatching. That is what this is all about.

2018-06-03 19:26:29

Three points here, point 1 London is not under threat from WW2 bombs anymore point 2 Harlow residents should have been put first regardless of the influx from London, point three we don't want anymore influx from the London boroughs anymore. But then again you are only point scoring as the former UKIP Councillor put you all in your place regarding this matter. I call it double standards. Ps since Ms Harvey was elected where is she I ain't seen her since the night of the election come to that where is Cllr Beckett? So much for visibility of these so called Labour Cllr's. Do me a favour Jerry from Queens belt up unless you have something useful worth listening to.

2018-06-03 19:36:08

You're backing up and agreeing with everything the former UKIP councillor said. How liberating that must be for you. You'll be relieved to know that I've sent both of your comments to Bletchley Park to see if their code breakers can tell me what point you're trying to make.

Brett Hawksbee
2018-06-04 07:40:51

Can anyone put aside their point scoring for a second, to question why, in 2018, we have local families in emergency, temporary accommodation in converted commercial buildings? The obvious but superficial answer is that the council is being prudent with it's capital resources; certainly such properties will be amongst the cheaper emergency housing available to them. But why the need? Why are councils unable to build the required number of council houses? The government must extend the right to borrow to local authorities, allowing them to invest in building a new generation of council homes. The government talks tough ... Javid for example with his inane threats of 'forcing councils to build more council houses ...' You may as well tie someones legs together then try to force them to run. The temporary housing being utilised cost efficiently by our local council is simply a symptom of a major failure of central government, and that us the real problem.

2018-06-04 11:20:26

This is typical of a Labour or Momentum supporter can't take criticism or accept other people's point of view, constantly getting verbally aggressive and resort to name calling or accusing others of the R or F word. Don't tell me this doesn't happen because I know it does. By the way I am former Cllr Dan Long' s wife so this saves you the bother of sending my details to Bletchley Park, why we are talking of ID why don't you give your name as you are so keen to know who I am, Jerry from Queens.

2018-06-04 17:41:09

I genuinely didn't know what point you were trying to get across, and please give examples of name-calling or personal insults. You seem to have me confused with MickyB77. Your identity is no concern of mine.

2018-06-04 21:01:50

I will refresh you memory with the following examples then JFQ, referring to Monty Python when writing about The Harlow Alliance Party and calling me ninepin, not to mention the tone of your views of the Tory Party, which millions of voters continue to vote for. Until you reveal your identity I think most readers of these articles will take your comments with a pinch of salt. I certainly don't agree with many of your political views but would not insult you, I would just have to agree to disagree. Harlow politics have been full of insults and mud slinging, I saw it on a regular basis for over 20 years whilst working for the Council, Harlow never gained anything by such hostility.

2018-10-13 20:35:54

And your the party is the party for the people of HARLOW. NOT.

2018-10-13 20:36:58

And your Party is the party for the people of Harlow. Not and never will be. Love Harlow vote ukip.

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