Put London's housing first, put Emily first

London’s housing is in crisis – and the new Conservative Government looks set to make it worse. From high rents to bad landlords, from lack of decent housing to multiple problems for leaseholders, it’s not surprising Londoners see housing as their top issue.

As a housing solicitor and campaigner working on the frontline for 20 years, I believe I have the experience and expertise to lead Lib Dem Housing Campaigns across London if elected to the GLA. It's great Tim Farron has made housing such a key issue for his leadership: London Lib Dems need to get behind his push. So if you want housing to be our number one London issue, please make me your number one preference!

My five pledges to London Lib Dems

Becoming a Lib Dem GLA member shouldn't just be about the specific issues the GLA deals with - vital though transport, police, housing, planning etc all are. 

I want to be a Lib Dem GLA Member who helps build the wider Lib Dem family across London. That's why I'm making 5 pledges to London Lib Dem Members. So, if I you vote for me and I am elected next May, I make these pledges.

Working for Lib Dems in every Borough

  • To press the Mayor on any issue a Lib Dem London Borough Party raises with me, and to help and support your ward and/or Borough level campaigning on such issues.

Helping activists campaign on their Borough's housing issues

  • To help any and every Lib Dem London Borough Party develop their housing policies and campaigns.

Opening City Hall to London members

  • To hold at least two events a year at City Hall for members - initially focusing on new members and student members - to both explain in person what we are doing on the GLA and to hear what are the latest issues party members would like me to focus on.

Lead the party's fightback in London

  • To play an active role in all Liberal Democrat campaigns and elections across London (whether or not they involve the GLA). I am especially keen to back the campaigns to oppose the abolition of the Human Rights Act and to keep the UK in the European Union - and to help in the crucial 2018 Borough elections. 

Revamp the party's digital campaigning

  • To work with party HQ, party experts and members to improve the digital campaigning skills of every local party and interested member.

The next housing crash

  • Posted on: 1 August 2015
  • By: webmaster

It’s not only the Tory crackdown on tax credits for families that will hit the working poor: it’s the Conservatives’ multiple mistakes on social housing that will do the most damage to our society. The problem is, these are less well-understood. Yet added together, they are set to cause a social housing sector crash almost comparable to the banking crash.

This is probably unintended – not least because there’s not one single policy that’s driving this. It’s the combination of a series of separate decisions that are coming together to fatally undermine the finances of many social housing providers, especially housing associations. More cuts in tax credits and benefits of course cause problems to the social housing sector by themselves – because they are certain to lead to greater rent arrears. But it’s only when you add in other changes, like the way benefits will be paid in the future, imposed cuts to housing association rents and the ideologically driven extension of the Right to Buy to Housing Associations, that the full disaster facing us becomes clearer.

Driving up standards in the Private rented sector

  • Posted on: 29 July 2015
  • By: webmaster

The Mayor needs to crack down on rogue private landlords and promote good practices.

The legislation is there to crack down on rogue private landlords. Local Authorities can move in take over the management of any let property, and force landlords to do repairs at no cost to the tenant.  Tenant in the property or not the landlord has to do the work.  But when you look at the number of actions taken by local authorities either London’s landlords are perfect after a little prompting or The Local Authorities are not using the legislation to protect tenants.  The Mayor needs to name and shame council into taking action to drive up the standards in private rented accommodation.

Generation Rent

  • Posted on: 25 July 2015
  • By: webmaster

Excellent article in the Guardian highlighted the key challenges for Generation Rent and for the country.  High rents mean tenants find it difficult to save for deposits to purchase a home.  The Short term of the tenancy means a life of uncertainty especially for those with children.  Children’s education being disrupted by frequent changes of school as the household moves to a new rented property. 

How new members helped us win in Grove

  • Posted on: 24 July 2015
  • By: webmaster

Like so many local parties in the days after our General Election defeat, the devastation we felt in Kingston was offset somewhat by the huge influx of new members, with over 130 joining since May 7th. The question was: how did we build on their enthusiasm when we were all so…..well, knackered?

And we were just putting plans together for new member welcome events when we got the tragic news that our longstanding councillor in Grove ward, Cllr Chrissie Hitchcock, had died suddenly. The fourth Grove by-election in recent years beckoned: in fact, the last one had been held on the same day as the General and we’d just held on by 18 votes – and we’d lost one of the 3 seats in the 2014 Borough-wide elections. So Grove was one of London’s most marginal wards.

To win in this split ward, we decided we needed all of the enthusiasm and energy of our new members. But how did we avoid putting them off, with just piles of leaflets?

Let’s get radical with empty homes

  • Posted on: 19 July 2015
  • By: webmaster

Official figures shows that nearly 21,000 properties across London have been empty for over six months. And that’s almost certainly an underestimate. With London’s shockingly long housing lists and the level of homelessness, the common sense option of using this huge number of empty homes has to be grasped.

To date, the Mayor and most London Boroughs have pussy-footed round this. It’s time to bring in a crack team, and make it clear there are no “no go” areas for tackling empty homes- even if their owners are the super-wealthy. People who see London’s property market as just another casino to roll the dice in should get a rude awakening.

For over 5 years now, I’ve trained solicitors and council officers in how to bring empty homes back into use.  It’s not easy but the main barriers are actually a lack of political will, combined with a lack of knowledge, expertise and the officer time needed to act. The way to overcome this is to force the pace of best practice – which is exactly what the Mayor should be doing but isn’t. Why doesn’t London follow Kent’s example and bring councils together to form expert teams in tackling empty properties. In just one year they managed to reduce the numbers of empty properties by over 650 – with 67% of those properties coming from the joint task force.

Cameron is in danger of being like Mugabe on property

  • Posted on: 16 June 2015
  • By: webmaster

Housing is Londoners’ top priority according to the polls. Not surprising – with problems ranging from the cost, to shortage and too often to the quality too.

Yet the Conservatives’ lead housing policy – to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants – will solve none of these London housing problems: we should make attacking it a Lib Dem campaign priority for next year’s GLA elections.