Housing panel jeered as Islington residents criticise £5,000 allowances

Thomas Cooper

Thomas Cooper - Credit: Archant

Anarchy ruled at a heated meeting after a plan to keep a housing panel in their lucrative “lottery” roles for another year was revealed.

The summit at Islington Assembly Hall, in Upper Street, Islington, was disrupted by jeering and insults from around 30 people who attended, and the chairman – Cllr Barbara Sidnell, executive member for tenants, residents and communities – threatened on several occasions to end the meeting.

Members of the public were upset because the executive’s allowance of £5,000 a year plus expenses for some members was not widely known until after the elections, as well as the plan to keep the current incumbents in post, without further elections, until September 2015.

Housing campaigner Thomas Cooper said: “Most people didn’t know they could get five grand a year, effectively for nothing.

“Imagine if everyone in the borough knew? Next time they could have 70,000 people applying for this lottery. As it is, council staff have gerrymandered pliant people into these roles.

“The meeting was not under control. The chairman threatened to shut it down several times.”

Brian Potter, chairman of the Islington leaseholders Association (ILA), said: “We thought the panel members weren’t going to be paid, then suddenly it is revealed that they will be paid. Then they tried to vote themselves in for another year. Its an absolute disgrace and a total waste of money, which could be used for services.”

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The executive has been controversial ever since it’s inception, with less than 10 per cent of residents taking part in an election that cost £10,000 to run.

Two members quit before taking up their posts, and critics slammed members for going on a £6,000 “jolly” in the countryside.

Cllr Barbara Sidnell, executive member for tenants, residents and communities said, “The council takes residents’ influence on decision-making seriously and the Housing Executive is an important part of this.

“One proposal at the latest meeting was to combine Housing Executive and Residents’ Champion roles to allow all elected residents to take part in service reviews, allow greater resources to promote the groups’ work and offer a better connection with residents.

“This new shared role would mean bringing their terms of office into line, giving the revised arrangements time to bed in before further elections in 2015.”