Councillors and committees

Agenda item

Cambridge Road Estate (CRE) Ballot

Following the resolution at 8 November 2018 Strategic Housing and Planning Committee, this report seeks the Committee’s approval to the specific arrangements for consultation and a ballot of Cambridge Road Estate (CRE) residents on the proposal for the future of the estate.

Decision:

Resolved that -

 

1.    the arrangements as set out in Paragraphs 19 of the Committee report for the appointed independent body, the Electoral Reform Services, to hold a resident ballot at the Cambridge Road Estate in accordance with Greater London Authority (GLA) Guidance relating to the Council’s proposals for the future of Cambridge Road Estate, be approved;

 

2.    the Ballot Paper as set out in Annex 5 of the supplementary late material pack be approved, with the amendment that the form of the ballot question be: ‘Do you support the Council’s regeneration proposal for new homes on your estate?’

 

3.    the Director of Growth be authorised, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, Opposition spokesperson, and affected CRE residents, to issue the Landlord Offer document in accordance with Greater London Authority (GLA) Guidance as set out in Paragraph 46 of the Committee report.

 

 

Minutes:

Members considered a report which sought approval for the arrangements relating to the resident ballot in respect of the Council’s proposals for new homes at the Cambridge Road Estate (CRE). Members noted that on 17 April 2018 the Council resolved to carry out its own voluntary ballot of CRE residents. Members agreed that it was a key priority to ensure that residents were consulted on the regeneration proposals for the new homes including detailed designs, the new landlord offer and for a voluntary ballot on its proposals to be undertaken.

 

The Committee noted that on 18 July 2018 the Greater London Authority (GLA) published guidance on the requirement to hold a ballot on proposals for regeneration of social housing estates where the landlord was obtaining funding from the GLA. It was noted that although the Council was already in contract with the GLA for funding, and therefore would be able to apply for exemption from this requirement, the Council had decided to carry out a voluntary ballot for CRE.

 

Members noted that officers had undertaken further work to progress arrangements to hold a resident’s ballot, which included the appointment of Electoral Reform Services, (ERS), as the independent body who would administer and oversee the ballot. ERS were appointed following an open tender process. Bids were assessed by a panel comprising of officers and members of the CRE Residents Steering Group.

 

Consultation on the ballot had also included a questionnaire of CRE residents undertaken between 1 and 15 February 2019 and door-knocking by council staff. This was to provide local residents with the opportunity to comment on the ballot arrangements and the outcomes from the residents workshops held in October 2018, and identify any individual issues or concerns relating to the ballot. It was envisaged that the ballot would take place in autumn 2019 subject to Committee approval.

 

A number of Councillors spoke from the public gallery and raised concerns with the ballot process and queried why GLA Guidance had been followed when this was not mandatory to hold a vote. Concern was also raised over fairness in relation to voting rights, as guidelines indicated only those named on tenancy agreements would be permitted to vote and this could restrict those eligible to only the males named on the agreements which would potentially disfranchise women on the estate. By way of response the legal advisor explained that in relation to voting eligibility the evidence showed the contrary and in fact there were more declared male partners than declared female partners who were not named tenants or resident leaseholders/freeholders on the estate. It was explained that the GLA Guidance was followed in order to minimise the risk of legal challenge. It was reiterated that the Mayor of London wanted to see estate regeneration carried out in a consistent way across London.

 

Concern was also raised in relation to Ely Court and why residents located there were not entitled to vote. It was explained that the GLA Guidance did not allow them to vote and there could be a risk of legal challenge and judicial review if the Council was to deviate from that guidance.

 

Residents and Councillors addressed the Committee with regards to the form of question posed and concerns that it was not clear enough for residents to understand. By way of response it was explained that the form of question had been used for previous regeneration ballots such as one in Lambeth. Representatives from Electoral Reform Services explained that residents would be sent Landlord Offer documents in advance of the vote outlining the Cambridge Road Estate regeneration proposal in full detail and this would be referenced on the ballot paper preamble. Members agreed an amendment to the question to include the word ‘regeneration’ so that the ballot question read: ‘Do you support the Council’s regeneration proposal for new homes on your estate?.

 

Resolved that -

 

1.    the arrangements as set out in Paragraphs 19 of the Committee report for the appointed independent body, the Electoral Reform Services, to hold a resident ballot at the Cambridge Road Estate in accordance with Greater London Authority (GLA) Guidance relating to the Council’s proposals for the future of Cambridge Road Estate, be approved;

 

2.    the Ballot Paper as set out in Annex 5 of the supplementary late material pack be approved, with the amendment that the form of the ballot question be: ‘Do you support the Council’s regeneration proposal for new homes on your estate?’

 

3.    the Director of Growth be authorised, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, Opposition spokesperson, and affected CRE residents, to issue the Landlord Offer document in accordance with Greater London Authority (GLA) Guidance as set out in Paragraph 46 of the Committee report.

 

Voting:

 

For:                 Councillors Malcolm Self (Chair), Emily Davey (Vice-Chair), Tim Cobbett, Sam Foulder-Hughes, Lesley Heap, Andreas Kirsch and Sharon Young. (7)

 

Against:         (0)

 

Abstain:         Councillors Roy Arora and Nicola Sheppard. (2)

 

 

 

Supporting documents: