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Residents on Tower Hamlets' Ocean estate had to fight for years for the estate to be regenerated - only to see their homes held at "arms' length".

Biggs keeps homes at arms length shock

HE’S TAKEN the rubbish back in-house, but not the people. That’s the shocking news to emerge from the Town Hall this week, as John Biggs pulls another of his strange stunts to convenience the Council rather than the public. A public “consultation” is already underway – and due to finish a week after Ramadan ends.

It’s not the first time a good policy from Labour has been mishandled by local leaders. When the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott MP announced that Councils had to bring their housing stock up to “decent homes” standard, Tower Hamlets Labour Councillors decided to sell off their homes to social landlords. The tenants who refused to be sold saw their estates remain in Council ownership, but with the management of those homes hived off into an “arms’ length” company – Tower Hamlets Homes.

Many other Councils used Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) as a way to get round the Government’s refusal to fund improvement works. Many of those have since brought their housing management back in-house to save costs. Not so Tower Hamlets, where various Administrations have toyed with the idea but held back in the end.

Tower Hamlets Executive Mayor John Biggs has considered taking the management of Tower Hamlets Council’s housing stock back in-house – but he has now (provisionally) decided to extend the life of Tower Hamlets Homes by eight years instead (with the option to end the contract after four years).

The decision is out for a public consultation. The Executive Mayor has written to all Tower Hamlets Homes residents to inform them of his “preferred option” but inviting them to email any comments to the Council’s housing team before he takes the final decision.

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations said, “We are gobsmacked to hear of this decision. There is such a clear case in favour of taking housing management back in house – not least in order to give residents the opportunity to take problems to councillors who could get things done. Now everyone will have to carry on going through two tiers of bureaucracy every time they make a complaint. Why?”

The Executive Mayor took his decision after an Options Paper had been prepared by external consultants. The Paper is available on the Council website. Comments should be sent, before 10th June, to:

See the consultation here:

See the consultants’ options paper here:
ALMO Options

Read more about it:
Biggs upset on nurseries as “councillors say no”
Biggs backs down on pay for young workers

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