I quite admire Ealing’s Labour group for setting up their new housing commission. Sounds interesting. It is good to see Labour being imaginative rather than just managing things as they are. I would like to know though if it is a private Labour party venture or an official council initiative that will cost the council money. Up until now there has been a formal scrutiny panel that looked at housing. Labour abolished this in the budget process, cutting scrutiny by 44%, see here. Have Labour abolished official scrutiny committees with opposition representation and replaced them with a Labour only “commission”?
Labour’s commission comprises three Labour politicians, including Newham’s mayor plus a researcher, James Gregory, from the keeper of Labour’s flame, the Fabian Society. They are like the Jesuits of Labour. Another participant is “leading public policy expert” Adrian Harvey. Is he a freelancer? Being paid? Is he also the ex-Deputy General Secretary of Fabian Society Adrian Harvey? All other participants seem to have a kosher housing background.
I was interested to see David Lunts, Executive Director, London Homes & Communities Agency included in the list. I think he is now an employee of the GLA again nowadays. Strange to see a (regional government) civil servant/local government officer taking part in such a politically unbalanced exercise. Lunts has an interesting background. His career seems to have started as a Labour councillor in Manchester where he chaired the Manchester City Council housing committee from 1988 to 1995. Then he worked as an advisor to Labour’s John Prescott at the ODPM before joining Ken Livingstone’s GLA. Looks like a bit of a Labour insider, and he has clearly made a good living at it too. He is doing another housing commission for another Labour borough – Lambeth.
Labour’s commission seems to include no representatives of other parties. Either it is official council business and it should be more balanced or it is a private Labour venture and should be strictly separate from the council.