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Leaseholders call on Housing Minister to stop Isle of Dogs estates takeover

PUBLISHED: 16:55 31 July 2012

The Housing Minister is being asked to intervene in the take-over for four controversial former council housing estates on the Isle of Dogs by a north London housing company.

Tenant and leaseholder groups representing 2,000 families have written to Grant Shapps in a bid to halt the take-over of Island Homes by its Camden-based parent-group One Housing.

Tower Hamlets councillors are backing the call for the Minister to freeze the closure of Island Homes until a ballot can decide.

An open letter to the Minister from the groups accuses One Housing of “abuse of power and failure to consult residents.”

One Housing claims 80 per cent backing for the merger from 800 households—out of 2,000—that replied to its six-week consultation.

But that was challenged this week by campaigners.

“This sham consultation is being used as evidence that residents favour the move,” the letter to the Housing Minister says.

“Residents who did not receive any information about what they would lose if the merger took place were hoodwinked.”

They want the Minister to stop One Housing’s take-over if he is to “uphold the government policy of ‘big society’ with people running their own services and not being tied up in red tape by remote bureaucrats.”

Home-owners are embroiled in a long-running battle at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal with Island Homes and its parent company over claims of “excessive” service charges for work many say isn’t necessary and had not been agreed.

The dispute goes back five years, when Island Homes took over from the resident-led Toynbee housing trust set up when the four estates votes to opt out of Tower Hamlets council.

Now Island Homes is to merge with its parent company in Camden that opponents say is even more remote from ‘localism’ on the Isle of Dogs.

Tower Hamlets councillor Marc Francis told the Advertiser: “I was shocked to learn that Island Homes is to be closed down and incorporated into One Housing.

“The time has come for Mayor Lutfur Rahman to get tough and suspend One Housing immediately as one of the council’s ‘preferred development’ partners.”

One Housing, however, insisted the merger would ensure “no residents would be worse off as a result.”

A spokesman claimed: “There is a small protesting minority—the majority are enjoying better locally-provided housing and services.”

The leaseholders are calling for a return to resident-led local management they say will better keep tabs on rocketing service charges.

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