Ellen Nkomo gives voice to the chronically fobbed-off

COMMENT: The basic art of human communication between the council and its tenants has been lost

Thursday, 20th January

Ellen Nkomo

NHS worker Ellen Nkomo, who dramatically chained herself to the council’s headquarters on Wednesday night – telling staff she had been fobbed off for years over housing repairs

ELLEN Nkomo’s gutsy protest at 5 Pancras Square was about more than just repairs to a neglected home.

The real issue is about the way complaints are handled in Camden. So many are left unanswered or simply get lost in a sea of bureaucracy.

There are few worse feelings than the sense of being repeatedly fobbed-off.

The only wonder is that more people do not take matters into their own hands like Ms Nkomo.

Local authorities have been ravaged by central government funding cuts and the Covid pandemic has not helped matters.

What has been lost along the way is the basic art of human communication between the council and its tenants. There is a disconnect, and people are angry.

The rumblings of discontent in Elm Village, which are felt in estates across Camden, should act as a lightning rod to Labour going into May’s council elections.

There is a danger that as the weeks ebb away to May the election debate may get bogged down with familiar disputes.

In the coming weeks, we will all no doubt receive mounds of political leaflets with pictures of black bin liners piled high.

There are serious questions to be asked of Veolia, the council’s private company contractor.

But this can’t be an election falling back on that phoney idea that all council tax goes on is collecting the bins.

If we were to ask our readers what was important to them, they might come up with the following wishlist from the council:

– A meaningful response to the scrimping on affordable housing in modern developments.

– Better, safer cycle routes.

– A decent pay rise for key workers.

– And a Town Hall that not only looked after tenants’ homes but responded with a human touch to their complaints.

As Ms Nkomo says, everything is related to the conditions we live in.

Time to go

THE Boris Johnson shambles broke new ground this week with his crocodile tear lament about having to apologise to the Queen.

The Prime Minister is now perceived to be a complete idiot, a national disgrace and has become despised among many in his own party.

And yet he marches on seemingly determined to weather the storm – saving his own legacy now being preferred to the greater good of his party.

At this rate, if he is still with us in May, he will only hamper Conservative efforts to form an opposition in Camden.

They may not say it out loud, but surely local Tories would prefer to go into battle with a new commander-in-chief.

Related Articles