‘Westminster housing poor in Barking and Dagenham’: Council responds to criticism

Cllr Darren Rodwell criticised Westminster City Council this week for treating Barking and Dagenham

Cllr Darren Rodwell criticised Westminster City Council this week for treating Barking and Dagenham as a 'convenience' - Credit: Archant

Westminster’s housing boss has hit back at council leader Darren Rodwell, who earlier this week criticised the central London authority for moving some of its council house tenants into Barking and Dagenham.

The Post can now reveal that 11 households have been moved into Barking and Dagenham by Westminster in the last 18 months – five in Barking, five in Dagenham and one in Chadwell Heath.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for housing, said its £6million spend in six months on housing outside central London was driven by “high levels of homeless acceptances”.

“We are taking practical steps to make sure we are in a position to help people in housing need,” he said. “This involves sourcing properties in places where households on benefits and low incomes can afford to live, within reach of employment opportunities in central London.”

Cllr Rodwell told the Post on Wednesday families placed in the borough are putting a strain on services and disadvantaging local people.

Increasing demand for school places, delays getting GP appointments and an overspend on children’s and social work budgets are some of the issues being blamed on an influx of families from Westminster.

He accused Westminster of treating Barking and Dagenham as a “convenience”.

But Cllr Astaire hit back, saying: “This is not a question of convenience. As I have said previously, housing is a London-wide issue that will not be solved by sticking rigidly to borough boundaries, and officers across London will continue to work collaboratively together to help households in difficult circumstances find housing in places that they can afford to live.”

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Responding to Cllr Rodwell’s claim Westminster had cancelled a meeting to discuss the issue, he added: “We remain happy to meet with the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council to discuss his concerns.”