Hammersmith MP criticises Shelter over appointment of new chair

Andy Slaughter (pictured) says the appointment of Derek Myers, former chief executive of the council, could undermine the charity's advocacy of housing reform

Andy Slaughter MP
Andy Slaughter MP

Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, has criticised the appointment of the former chief executive of Hammersmith & Fulham Council as chair of the housing charity Shelter.

Shelter announced last week that it had selected Derek Myers, who was head of both Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea councils in London, to take over as chair at the end of November.

In a letter to Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, Slaughter said that Myers’ appointment could undermine the effectiveness of Shelter’s campaigning work because of the "punitive" housing policies that were introduced at Hammersmith & Fulham Council during Myers’ tenure.

"As I am sure you are aware, over the last few years Hammersmith & Fulham Council has radically changed its housing rules and has introduced some of the most punitive housing policies in England," wrote Slaughter.

"In April of this year, the council kicked more than 9,000 households off the council’s housing register, ending any chance those families had of accessing affordable housing in their borough.

"Every day my office is contacted by family after family who live in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, and who have been told that they are no longer able to access social housing."

Slaughter said in his letter that the "lucky few" homeless people whom the council agreed to help could expect to be placed in "poor quality temporary accommodation many miles away from the borough".

Even those who were placed in temporary accommodation in the borough might find themselves placed in "uninhabitable flats that are unsafe and infested with vermin", he said.

Slaughter said that the council had increased the rate at which it sold its housing stock and given priority to developers who planned to build luxury homes.

"All of this has happened under the stewardship of Derek Myers, and I am astonished that he is seen as the right person to head your board of trustees," said Slaughter.

"I have already been contacted by constituents who have been victims of the council’s housing policies, who have expressed great concern at this appointment.

"I have worked with Shelter in the past, and I believe that you do a fantastic job in advocating for housing reform. It is a very well-respected charity, and I regularly advise constituents to read your website or call your helpline to seek advice.

"I am worried that this appointment will undermine the good reputation that Shelter has built up, and will reduce the effectiveness of your campaigning work."

A spokeswoman for Shelter said that Robb had received the letter and would be replying shortly. She declined to comment further.

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