1973: ‘Camden’s great white elephant’

nellycamdenTHE skyline you meet coming out of the new look King’s Cross and St Pancras stations is bound to change in the coming years, not least because Camden Council is axing its ‘Town Hall annexe’ office building. Imagine what the council bosses who commissioned its construction in the 1970s would have said if you had told them then that it would only be standing for 40 years. A date with a wrecking ball seems inevitable now the council are rocking over to brand new headquarters on the redeveloped railwaylands.

Unions warned back in 1973 that it would end in tears over the annexe. In fact, even before it was built, they nicknamed the annexe ‘Nelly’, insisting a new open plan office block would end up being a white elephant. Their campaign artwork was laughed off at the time.


7 Comments on 1973: ‘Camden’s great white elephant’

  1. Vote Mr Independent // May 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm //

    An end of an era for “Nelly” Camden’s Cabinet Member for Finance Cllr Theo Blackwell should be ashamed of Labour’s decision to sell “Nelly” to developers, and move lock stock and barrel to another “White Elephant” leasehold building costing £100 Million plus.

    To be quite honest the list of excuses used by the many £100.000 plus executives within Camden Council’s rank and file to sanction the sale of “Nelly” was a very poor excuse, long term maintenance issues I recall, well I can assure you that I have seen worst case housing examples where maintenance and disrepair issues are more extensive, if any good old “Nelly” is in a better state of repair than some of Camden Council’s own Housing stock, at least it’s weathered, with fully functioning heating & hot water, unlike some of the homes in Camden.

    Why no Councillors challenged or questioned Cllr Blackwell & Co over this sale, somewhat questions why Camden needed another office building, which is only used in the day, maybe Camden’s Labour Leader needs to have Cllr Blackwell “Whipped” for being reckless with public cash!!!!

    The great Leader of Camden Council needs to put her train set down, and get to grips with reality, and put Camden residents first and foremost, and start challenging the government over the welfare reforms, bedroom tax, and make a commitment to the people of this borough, to join the many other councils and say NO to evictions.

    Since Labour Councillors are enjoying public allowances for the privilege of just being a number, why don’t the Councillors start giving to the many food banks that are popping up all over Camden.

    All I can say, is watch this space “Independents” are coming to town, come the next election, we as Independents will put a stop to the waste of public funds, and support the people of Camden and will put a stop to the £100.000 plus council executives that nest at Camden Council once and for all.

  2. Hello again

    There was great scrutiny about the new building in 2010 and 2011, and on balance councillors accepted that to keep 9 older public offices open and face a huge large repair bill was not a good use of public money.

    Instead we have a new public building and already more valuable asset for the taxpayer. This will make public services better. The building is on a virtual freehold.

    If we did nothing, as you always have wanted, more capital would be leeching out to fix old, half-empty offices (rather than schools and homes) and fewer of the gains negotiated from King’s Cross developers (e.g. new library and public swimming pool) would be delivered. Also there would be less housing: on part of the land from other public offices we will sell, we aim to build around 300 homes at social rent.

    Salaries of top staff are now transparent, even if the TPA can’t read our accounts properly, and top salaries are going down.

    Other councils are not really implementing a ‘no eviction’ policy – they have an approach similar to Camden’s – as I have written here: http://www.theoblackwell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/green-bedroom-tax-no-evictions-policy.html

    • Das Kapital // May 14, 2013 at 7:17 am //

      Some things just never change in Camden!

      Theo, instead of Camden coming up with a creative solution of its own to the bedroom tax, you spend time criticising another council’s efforts to support its own tenants through a very difficult time!

      Brighton and Hove – a Green led council – will be accountable (via the ballot box) to its own tenants, especially if it then decides to start evicting tenants affected by the changes – it will be headline news!!!!!!!!

      Are other councils throughout the country also not finding (and yes, implementing!) other ways to bypass the bedroom tax such as declassifying one and two bed properties????

      Camden’s track record in this area? Absolutely zero apart from the odd letter or two being sent from Camden and London Councils to a few central government departments.

      Incidentally, we’re writing this during a week when it’s been reported in the national press that a vulnerable woman has committed suicide due to the pressure of having to pay the bedroom tax!!!!!!

      How many vulnerable people might we loose in Camden due to this government’s despicable actions? But the bigger question is how many people need to die before our so called opposition councillors act – in fact all Camden Cllrs – and seriously challenge the actions of this government, which in fairness is what at least some Cllrs are doing for their constituents across the country!!!!!!!!


  3. Vote Mr Independent // May 14, 2013 at 4:33 am //

    Hello Again

    I think not Cllr Blackwell, I think you are talking a load of “Hollocks” yet again.

    Typical, how Camden Labour Councillors these days can “talk” the “talk” but cannot do the “walk” ironic really when you think, some of Camden’s own residents are blinded by your complete “waffle” !! One only has to look at how you have detracted away from commenting about the hardship and poverty some of your very own constituents face due to the cuts in service, fuel poverty, bedroom tax, welfare reforms and increased rents and YES the possible threat of evictions, which I am aware that none of the Labour Party Members within Camden have signed, unlike some other Councils.

    Let’s talk about the food banks that appear to be popping up within Camden alone, let’s face it they are not what you call the typical ” Quickie Marts” are they, think about the people and indeed some of your own constituents that have to use them, normal everyday families who are struggling financially to feed themselves because local councillors just don’t care, why should they when the public taxpayers contribute towards paying for councillors allowances and the tea & biscuits that come with the job!!!!.

    I think both you and other Labour Councillors, like to give people the impression that you are being open and transparent, well since you have a partial conscience, give the people a breakdown of how many executive officers in Camden earn salaries of £50.000 plus!!! and confirm as to whether or not you feel these officers are value for money?

    More so let’s talk about Cllr Fulbrook attack on all leaseholders and the pending LVT case, do you think it is right that Camden are attempting to fleece leaseholders for additonal management fees ?. When the service already afforded to many leaseholder within Camden is a shambles. The esitmation costs for shoody works is nothing more than a qiuck fix for Camden, and no don’t tell me that the Chair of the Camden’s Leaseholder forum is working on behalf or in favour of his members.

    All I want to know on bealf of the people of Camden are ” you with us or against us” as come the next election independent candidates will become the next councillors of Camden, I think both you and Cllr Hayward if she can put her train set down, will lose the next election to the people’s independent.

    You never know I might even sit in your chair, when I pass the £100.000 plus executives of Camden their P45’s and marching orders!!!!!!!!

  4. Yes, and we’ve been one of the most vocal councils in the country against the unfair impact of the cuts on deprived areas and have strong evidence http://www.camden.gov.uk/benefitchanges to back up our lobbying.

    But public services have less money and we have to make tough decisions to balance our budgets. That’s said, we’re doing things like using our public land to build 1000+ council homes in the next few years, and repair all of our schools (after the Gvt cut their money).

    The ‘No Evictions’ approach for people in arrears “solely” due to Bedroom Tax has been shown to be a cosmetic exercise and little different in practice from the “very last resort” approach by councils such as Camden.

    We don’t want to lead people down blind alleys – especially on welfare – and most people accept that it’s less clear cut than demanding with-us-or-against-us stances.

    Our package of help is the best we can do, and our staff are working hard to find the best solutions for people caught out by government changes.

    • Das Kapital // May 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm //

      ‘Our package of help is the best we can do, and our staff are working hard to find the best solutions for people caught out by the government changes’.

      I recently heard about a vulnerable Camden resident where the discretionary financial assistance they receive to help meet the cost of the bedroom tax will finish at the end of next month, as the help they currently receive to stay in their home is only short term.

      The effect on this resident will be devastating and the suffering that will be endured is a million miles away from the image you are trying to project, which is of a council and its residents coping well with the changes.

      You talk about building council homes, you talk about introducing rent controls, but one of the reasons we’re in the state we’re in today is because in the past politicians have not thought enough about those bread and butter issues that mean so much to the ordinary man in the street!!!!! We’re now in a crisis – and no, the greedy bankers can’t be left out of the equation – but neither can the majority of politicians, of all political parties, who just haven’t cared enough to place these issues (investment in affordable housing, rent controls, etc) high enough on their agendas!

      You need to take some inspiration from yesterday’s politicians (and there were many!) especially those who belonged to your own party who not only cared about their fellow human beings, but who worked towards building a nation fit for all!

      Poor and vulnerable people in this country are now being blamed for situations over which they have little or no control, it’s appaling!!!!!!

      Yet what will we all see next????? Nothing less than the usual pantomine that accompanies almost every local and parliamentary election. The turnout at the last GO by-election was somewhere like 26% – hardly a vote of confidence and a true indication that ordinary people out there are losing interest in the main political parties who have on the whole let them down!!!!!!


  5. Can't Beleive IT !! // May 15, 2013 at 11:59 am //

    Theo stop using public money like your playing a game of Monopoly, I know you think you have landed on Mayfair, but really your in old street just passed go and have collected your £200. what planet do you live on people in Camden are facing hardship with all the cuts in schools, homes etc. this is effecting many homes and families especially in the winter months and struggle to keep warm due to increase in fuel.

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