Philip Grant has now received a reply to his email of January 28th to Cllr Southwood, Brent Council' s Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, that expressed concern about Brent Council's response to the situation facing residents of Prospect House, on the North Circular Road.
Philip sent a reminder on February 16th pointing out that he had not yet received a reply:
Dear Councillor Southwood,
I wrote to you, in your role of Lead Member for Housing, on 28 January, with a copy to the Stonebridge Ward councillors in whose area Prospect House is situated. I have not heard back from you, or from any of the local Labour councillors.
A further blog article has been published about Prospect House, and the poor living conditions in this substandard accommodation, which Brent helped to fund when two floors of the building were converted from offices to flats, four to five years ago:
I have added a comment to that blog, which I hope you will read, as it represents the sincere views of a long-time Brent resident:-
'To reinforce Alison's point about the 'deafening silence from Brent council and councillors':
On 28 January, I sent an email to the Cabinet Lead Member for Housing, Cllr. Southwood, with copy to the three Stonebridge Ward councillors, setting out a comment I had made on an earlier Prospect House blog article.
My email was headed "Tenants facing eviction from Prospect House", and I concluded by saying:
I hope you will take note of these views, and ensure that this matter is properly, and sympathetically, dealt with by Brent Council.'
I have not even received an acknowledgement, let alone a reply, from any of the recipients.
Brent Council appears to be ignoring the plight of the families they asked Shepherd's Bush H.A. to house in these substandard flats, as if it is nothing to do with them.
I don't think that is an acceptable way to treat the borough's residents. Do you?'
The longer that Brent Council tries to ignore the problems facing the Prospect House tenants, and their need for rehousing later this year, the worse it will look to the borough's residents.
I hope that you will take sympathetic action to resolve these issues. Thank you. Best wishes,
(Fryent Ward resident)
First, I’d like to reiterate my apologies for the delay in getting back to you. I was keen to understand the facts and to ensure that the council had taken appropriate action.
As you say, the families who moved into this previously empty office building were, at that time, homeless. The landlord leased the flats to SBHA to manage. The families who moved in did so under private rented sector offers, which ended their homelessness but with arrangements which were more secure than would have been the case in the private rented sector.
I have been assured that the conversion was done to a high standard. I’ve been extremely concerned to learn of the recent serious problems with the building. We’re working with SBHA now to understand the situation and how it will be remedied.
It’s clearly up to the landlord to decide what to do with his building and it seems he has decided not to renew the lease with SBHA, resulting in the families needing to find new homes. I appreciate that this is very stressful for them. I can’t comment on individual circumstances but I would urge any family who are concerned to contact us.
The families in Prospect House do not automatically have priority in terms of bidding for social housing but we’ll do all we can to help them find somewhere suitable. It’s no secret that Brent is a borough with relatively low wages and extremely high housing costs, which is incredibly challenging. There are 1,800 homeless households in Temporary Accommodation and a further 1031 in acute housing need.
Our total housing register is nearly 24,000. We’re working hard to improve supply – through our own ambitious building programme, working with landlords and through our own lettings company, I4B. But I appreciate that none of this makes it easier for families who are needing to move out of Prospect House.
Officers have written to everyone in Prospect House and if you’re in touch with any of the families, please do encourage them to contact us as soon as possible.