Labour and Conservatives clash over housing in Wandsworth

Conservative councillors in Wandsworth have been slammed by their Labour colleagues, who claim they filibustered a council motion about housing in the borough last week.

Labour councillors were hoping to speak in particular about 3,000 homeless children living in temporary accommodation as well the low number of affordable homes in a Nine Elms development where 85% of the first 800 flats sold went to foreign investors.

However there was not enough time to discuss housing during Wednesday’s council meeting, because the first motion took too long.

The Labour councillor who filed the motion on housing, Aydin Dikerdem, claimed it was the first time in his five years as a councillor that a second motion was not discussed.  

He said: “They are scared because they know the public are angry. 

“They can see what has been done, how developers have been given free reign in the borough.”

Wandsworth Labour councillor Paul White added: “Conservative councillors were wasting time as much as they could.”

A Wandsworth Conservatives spokesperson said: “It is simply untrue to suggest that anyone was filibustered. 

“The council followed all its usual procedures during Wednesday’s council meeting, with speakers from both the Conservative and Labour benches speaking within their equal time allocations.”

Housing is a contentious issue in Wandsworth, as the borough has some of the most expensive housing in the country. 

A recent study by CLASS and the Runnymede Trust found Wandsworth gentrified the second most of any London borough between 2010 and 2016.

Menwhile, as of March 2021, 10,304 people are waiting for social housing in Wandsworth. 

The 1,958 households currently homeless in the borough will have to wait on average 31 months to be housed.

However, many homes have been built, particularly in the Nine Elms area that straddles the border of Wandsworth and Lambeth. 

The Conservative run Wandsworth Council claim by the time construction is complete in Nine Elms there will be an extra 20,000 homes available including 4,000 affordable housing units.

Dikerdem said that the proportion of affordable homes in Nine Elms is far below the normal 35% to 40% in London developments and that Nine Elms was a missed opportunity for the capital.

White was also angered by the high proportion of homes in Nine Elms bought by investors.

He said: “Nine Elms is an embarrassment. These should be homes not investment boxes.” 

The Wandsworth Conservatives are proud of their record on housing.

In a statement they said: “There are 1,600 more affordable homes set to be completed in Wandsworth over the next three years, providing fresh opportunities for home ownership and keeping Wandsworth a special place to live.

“Labour-run boroughs’ high council tax punishes renters and homeowners alike, which is why in Wandsworth we have kept our council tax low to help those with the least, most.”

Featured image credit: Sludge G via Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

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