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10 September 2014updated 26 Sep 2015 7:47am

David Lammy on housing: “We cannot build some of the dross that’s been built in the past“

Labour MPs and potential rival mayoral candidates David Lammy and Tessa Jowell are among those fighting for co-operative approaches to London's problems.

By Alexander Woolley

London’s housing crisis was the theme of the evening last night, when David Lammy and Tessa Jowell were among those who gathered in Westminster for the publication of Co-operative Capital, a new pamphlet in which leading members of the Co-operative Party lay out their views on what benefits co-operative approaches could bring to London.

Speaking at the event, Lammy, who recently launched his bid to be chosen as Labour’s candidate for the mayoralty of London, particularly highlighted the need for the design of buildings to reflect the needs of those who live in them. “We cannot build some of the dross that’s been built in the past and is still going up,” he said.

Lammy, whose chapter is entitled “A co-operative way out of London’s housing crisis,” in which he calls co-operative housing arrangements “fundamental” and an important way of giving people control over their lives, also spoke passionately about the un-affordability of many new London building project s. “It is deeply perverse if you look out the window and see cranes right across London, but time and time again those developments are for people earning way above the average London wage.”

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, and Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, were joined by Steve Reed MP and Gareth Thomas MP, editors of the pamphlet, for a panel discussion hosted by Pippa Crerar, the Evening Standard’s City Hall editor. Others speaking included Lib Peck, the leader of Lambeth Council, and Patrick Vernon OBE, a mental health campaigner.

The Co-operative party works alongside the Labour Party to further the aims of the co-operative movement; there are currently thirty two joint Labour and Co-op MPS, including Ed Balls and Stella Creasy. Lammy and Jowell, however, are not Co-op MPs.

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Tessa Jowell agreed with Lammy on the importance of new housing for the capital. “David is absolutely right about quality of design… Another critical thing is concierge and the management of blocks.”

Jowell’s own chapter in the pamphlet calls for co-operative childcare to be promoted, claiming it is far cheaper and produces better results for children and parents alike. On average childcare costs £14,000 per year in London – “it’s a staggering figure that none of us should forget,” she said at the launch event.

“Embracing co-operative childcare could lead to better care for lower cost, more flexible hours and smaller facilities which are located in mixed communities – just what families in London need,” Jowell concludes her chapter.

Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and head of Labour’s Policy Review, wrote a chapter for Co-operative Capital, although he was not at the launch event. In it he suggests more organisations should publish their data, highlighting the benefits accrued from Transport for London’s approach. “By opening up access to Journey Planner, and real-time bus and tube information, a whole ecosystem of over 200 apps and services has been enabled, including successful start-ups like Citymapper.com,” he writes.

Other prominent authors include Karin Christiansen, General Secretary of the Co-operative Party and Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston. Christiansen suggests that more should be done to promote social enterprises and co-operatives as part of a stronger social economy, while Malhotra proposes that co-operative small businesses should be developed in clusters in order to improve their competiveness.

Concluding the event, Gareth Thomas MP said, “We hope the discussion [started in this pamphlet] will continue at the Co-operative conference and in future discussions about London.”

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