Rufia's Blog

A Home for all

I have a vision for Northampton -  Homes for All. A Home for everyone                                                                                      I want to talk about that but first I want like to thank NPH, and officers for all their hard work, for engaging with tenants and meeting the needs of our tenants. They have come a long way in 3yrs.

Northampton has become the most vibrant and diverse town in the county.  It is a university town with history.    In our town we need affordable homes, fit for purpose, using nothing but the safest materials, as we don’t have a repeat of Grenfell.  

But what do we see when we walk around the town, litter, boarded up homes, empty homes and the homeless on our streets. We know there are many other “hidden homeless”, sofa surfing.

Homelessness, has become a huge problem for this town.  We have an increasing housing crisis.  Where ever you look, in doorways, shop fronts, tents in park, in vehicles, squatting, homeless people are ending up there.   People who are homeless are often unable to acquire and maintain regular safe, secure adequate housing.  Landlord are increasing rents, (rooms are being rented out for £450 a month!), people experience job loss, family breakdown, we have an increasing population,  and no matter how many times we go out and do the count, there will be more that will turn up the next time. No-one choses to become homeless. We need more houses and we need a change in policy.  

Another problem we have is overcrowding. Homes lacking storage, privacy, space for children to play and do their homework has a knock effect on their education and development. Allowing social overcrowding is the council’s way of penalizing people who live in Council housing.  A home is not just a physical space it provides roots, identity, security and sense of belonging, so what is the solution? We need a Northampton standard that does not include using living rooms as a bedroom.  

The Landlords Forum is well attended.  However, we need to reach out and challenge those landlords who exploit and profit from tenants, which makes me very angry.  When rents go up families struggle to pay and they turn to the Council for housing.   We have a generation of young people who will struggle to afford a mortgage or to get onto the property ladder.  We have children without a stable home because they are moving around. They are seriously disadvantaged. Invest what you want, but without more homes, and decent homes, the problem will continue.

We currently have just over 3,000 people on the housing register, people living in temporary accommodation including children that’s shocking.  So what is going wrong? I can tell what’s going wrong?    We are not building enough affordable homes, family homes with space to help children develop and grow, because developers don’t want to build affordable homes. Why are we letting them get away with building only 10% or 15% instead of building 35%? We need to hold our ground and not allow that.  

We need disabled people to be fairly assessed and improvements made so they may live independently in their own homes.           We should not be underspending our DFG funds.

We should be campaigning for Government action- We need to stop selling our stock on the RTB.  We need to abolish bedroom tax, and put a cap on rent.  

 

Councils should stop paying agents and landlords huge sums of money for temporary housing and build more homes.  A good example is Spring Boroughs.  I recently took a stroll round the new housing estate and I was so happy to hear child’s laughter, all those houses made into a home, a community hub that brings people together not segregate them.  

We need to find ways of delivering housing services, and support services that will improve the lives of the most disadvantaged. When are we going to adopt HomeFirst policy?   

We are the decision makers in this chamber, we can make a difference and put it right otherwise we will leave a legacy failing the people of this town.

We need infrastructure and one Unitary council putting the people of this town first for a change and build Homes For All.

Case Study A family with disabled child, needing assistance. The child wants a room of his own to help him have his own space and privacy, and help him overcome his over dependence on his mother.  Instead he was offered adaptations and counseling. The assessment wasn’t thorough and lacked clarity.   And yet the council has unspent DFG money and deprives this child of his right to space and privacy.

In Conclusion

  • We need more houses and we need a change in policy.
  • We need a Northampton standard that does not include using living rooms as a bedroom.
  • We need to hold our ground and ensure developers build 35% affordable homes.
  • We should not have an underspend on our DFG funds.
  • We should be campaigning for Government action- remove the right to buy, abolish the bedroom tax, and put a cap on rent.
  • Adopt a HomeFirst policy

A Vision for Housing

A Home for all I have a vision for Northampton -  Homes for All. A Home for everyone                                                                                      I want to talk about that but first I want like to...

Scoop the Poop

Cllr Rufia Ashraf (labour, St James) is launching a dog fouling campaign - Scoop the Poop, on 15th March at Victoria Park 11-3pm.  She started it after local residents complained.  Dog owners not picking up after their dogs has become a town-wide issue that needs to be tackled.

The campaign is to help raise awareness and educate people about why it's important to pick up after their dog and understand the effects it can have on our environment. 

On the15th March local dog businesses will offer advice and support. Northampton Partnership Homes and the Borough’s  environmental wardens will also be at hand to offer advice.  Young people from St James Primary will be there to launch the campaign at midday.

Cllr Ashraf says. 

“This campaign is really important to the town.    I'd like to see zero-tolerance, and irresponsible dog owners become responsible owners and to understand their actions.  We all want to see clean streets and parks and we can only achieve this if owners take responsibility. Enforcement is key to catching people in the act. If caught dog owners can be fined up £1000.  With new enforcement officers in place we look forward to seeing them on our streets.

 The campaign is being supported by local stakeholders and is also being backed by Cabinet member for the Environment Cllr Hallam”.

 

For further information contact Cllr. Ashraf on 07772414316

Scoop the Poop

Scoop the Poop Cllr Rufia Ashraf (labour, St James) is launching a dog fouling campaign - Scoop the Poop, on 15th March at Victoria Park 11-3pm.  She started it after local...

Council Tax reduction scheme

Northampton Borough Council is to freeze the Council Tax reduction Scheme for the first time. It is to stay at 35%.

Cllr. Ashraf (Labour, St James), says, “I am glad that the Council has at last recognised that we cannot go on bleeding the poor. The Labour group said last year when the 35 % was introduced that people would find it hard to pay. We have been proved right. The debt has gone up and debt recovery has gone down.

Corby Borough only charges 8% Council Tax. This is what we should be doing. Perhaps freezing the amount people on low incomes pay at 35% is the beginning of common sense. We need our families and our children to survive austerity and come out the other end. We need to support them not fleece them. This is a small step in the right direction”.

Council Tax Reducation Scheme

Council Tax reduction scheme Northampton Borough Council is to freeze the Council Tax reduction Scheme for the first time. It is to stay at 35%. Cllr. Ashraf (Labour, St James),...

BAME Women’s Democracy Event 12th October 2017

Guildhall

 

Aim:  

The aim of BAME Women’s Democracy event is to encourage BAME communities to participate in local policy decisions. Democracy is everyone’s right, their contribution can change lives.

 Quotes About Democracy.  Democracy is a form of government in which people have the say in choosing the government or leader of their choice.  In other words, in a democracy, power lies in the hand of people unlike autocracy or dictatorship, where a single person usurps all the power and the rules over the entire nation.

 Discussion:  Current issues facing BAME women

 This is the first time Labour has organised a BAME women’s event for Democracy Week 2017.  The purpose of this event is to find a way to reach out to women from BAME communities and get them involved at local level.

 We discussed how democracy changes lives that are influenced by government.

We all know decisions made nationally can affect local issues therefore, wider community engagement and input is required if they want to be heard.  We also said how they can have influence over decisions that can better the lives of many.

 We also discussed the representation on the day maybe low because of when the meeting is being held.  This is something we can look at.

 We agreed we should hold another similar event same time next year and possibly have it around a theme and speakers, visit full council session and attend forum meetings to get an understanding of how local council performs, scrutinise and see how their local councillors represent their constituents. 

 Activity:

The Women were set an exercise, to write down their experiences of accessing housing and health in Northampton.  They came up with good points and want their contribution to be followed up on.

Council Chamber debate:

We went to the Council Chamber for a debate and split the group in two and selected a Mayor. The debate was around flexibility for working mums to work from 9-2pm

 Group 1 – Employees want their employer to give them flexibility and allow them to work 9-2pm to allow them to drop and pick up their children from school.

Group 2 - Employer argued employee accepts the job with the set hours, they cannot offer flexibility because it would affect their productivity and need people to work full time.  There were really good arguments for and against.

Health notes:

Time awaited to see specialist

GP appointments

Answer is always pain killer

Not no thorough checks

No referrals

Medication to expensive

Cost of medication – Vitamin D

Mental health issues

Free and regular health checks

Elderly in could be checked at home and others in other locations

Health service – joined up approach

Translation service for medical appointment – language terminology

Unavailable appointments

GP – not enough time

Long waiting time A&E

Dentist term time appointment

Mental health – not enough service available (poor service)

Respecting patients

Poor medication

8am to make GP appointment clash to school runs

Phone line is always engaged

The online system does not work, hard to use

Dentists becoming increasingly privatised

Not enough dentist appointment outside school time

Lots of people coming to Northampton from London , esp due to high cost of living and low quality of living in London

Lot of people from Eastern Europe

Long wait at A&E and operations

 

Housing notes:

  • Over crowded
  • 2 bedroom tax
  • Poor quality – council housing/association
  • Need Teenage Housing  - 18yrs over
  • Living room turned into bedroom
  • Inadequate housing
  • Homeless – expectations not met
  • Facilities available for disabled people
  • Keeping families together not separating them
  • Rent increasing/council tax
  • Benefit cap – universal credit which will affect low income families
  • Private rented people also overcrowded and low income
  • Not all landlords will accept housing benefit.  Not everyone can afford deposit
  • Overcrowding
  • Homelessness
  • Because of capping and bureaucracy of housing benefit, council tax
  • Big gap in housing benefit due to delay in filling in paperwork
  • Lack of affordable social housing, but lot of private accommodation.
  • Need for safe hostels
  • Lack of temporary accommodation in npton close to work and school
  •  New homes needed for  more rooms for big family and accommodations for young single people to larger bedroom.
  • Rents increasing people moving into Northamptonshire
  • Quality of new housing needs to be long lasting not cheap or breakable
  • Bedroom tax – against
  • Social workers would be better if they help the homeless parent as well as child
  • Homeless shelter limited spaces
  • Long process – complicated language issues with forms – lack of clear guidance
  • Waiting
  • Empty properties
  • Facilities in certain areas – school/transport
  • Unfair housing – benefit fraud
  • Condition of housing eg damp etc
  • Pensioners – benefits when renting /owners
  • BAME housing – specialist support required
  • University students – rents high - conditions

 

 

Conclusion:

 

The women that attended found the event informative and important. They were pleased they attended.  There was much discussion why they have not until now they came along to such event. They would like to see follow up session next year.   The ladies are keen to make a contribution and want to learn more about democracy and want to come along to meetings which will be a huge step for them..

  • To come along to next full council meeting on Monday 11th December at the Guildhall.  Arrive by 6.15pm to get seated
  • Attend next Democracy event 2018
  • Visit to Parliament and meet with BAME MPs
  • Complete questionnaire

Thanked the Women for their contribution.

 

 

BAME women and Democracy

BAME Women’s Democracy Event 12th October 2017 Guildhall   Aim:   The aim of BAME Women’s Democracy event is to encourage BAME communities to participate in local policy decisions. Democracy is...

Dear Residents, friends and supporters

It has certainly been a very busy year for Labour in Northampton.  You will see from my report that I attend many internal and external meetings to represent the views and concerns of the constituents of St James.  My attendance at council meeting is 100%.  I have continued to organise monthly walkabout and litter picks in St James.  I have also been working in partnership with local stakeholders in St James, other Cllrs, PCSO, Housing Officer, Environmental Warden, Park Ranger, St James Primary School and the wider business community including residents.

 I am currently campaigning for new play equipment for Victoria Park with Friends of Victoria Park and Im happy to report that NBC are going to install new play equipment commencing Tuesday 25th May.  This will be a combination of equipment for children aged 2-12yrs.  They also listened and will include sensory equipment as well which I am much pleased about.  I have continued to work hard on litter and fly tipping in the area.  Part of St James is a litter free zone area, and I am pleased people are slowly getting used to the idea.  But we can do more.

The weekly coffee which I fund with empowerment fund has been a hit with the locals.  I wanted local people to have a focal point in the area, and St James Library was perfect.  It has supported local residents to meet others and overcome isolation.  We even managed to get two library volunteers as a result.

In a few months’ time, I will be launching the Don’t drop-it, Bin it campaign with the support of Young Ambassadors of St James Primary School.  If we don’t take pride where we live who will, so I hope you will get involved and support us to keep our streets clean and tidy.

I am also pleased to inform you that St James Primary School has officially become part of the Junior Warden Scheme in March 2017.  I am really proud of them for participating in a 6-week long training. This was funded by NPH and from my Cllr Empowerment Fund and delivered by our local Wardens.

Match day parking.  You will know back in December 2015 I took a motion to council and unanimously won support for and requested match day solutions for St James.  Cabinet report in March was not helpful and they have decided to form a working group to look at finding solutions.  I will keep fighting for you and update you in due course.

I am also supporting our local County Councillors with the Smart Corridor fiasco.  We are currently at phase 3 of works and I still can’t see what NCC are trying to achieve in the area.  Instead we are dealing with traffic jams and disruptions to the area.  

I am currently dealing with Scottish street break-in’s, speeding cars and the junction of Glasgow Street to Weedon Road.  Highways have inspected the street and are going help reduce unlawful parking at the junction to start with.     I will contact resident in coming weeks to obtain their views how they would like to see the area remain safe and welcoming to everyone.

I am also in negotiations with residents about alley gating scheme in St James.  It has become a huge problem with fly tipping and -social behaviour.  So to move things along I am proposing to residents to think about gating to prevent the above.  It will take time, costs will be involved but am determined to find a long term solution for residents.

 Local PCSO is campaigning for Bike awareness.  I am supporting the PCSO to get the message out about safety for pedestrians and cyclists on footpaths.  

 CASE WORK  

Vulnerable Adult

21

Face to face contact

  Vulnerable Children

23

                 “

Homelessness

66

                 “

Housing issues

101

                 “

Evictions

9

                 “

Challenging HIMO applications

10

                 Excluding 1

Dog Fouling

24

                “

Anti -Social Behaviour

27

                 “

Littering

210

                 “

Police

47

                “

Fly tipping

104

                 “

Parking

89

                 “

Blue badge

4

 

Noise complaint

35

 

Domestic Abuse

Domestic slavery

2

1

                  “

 

Northampton Labour Party

Northampton Labour CLP

July 2015-Otober 2016 (Chair)

Group meeting

Monthly

Cabinet Meeting

Monthly

Executive Meeting

Monthly

Monthly Advice Surgery

Every 3rd Saturday of month

 

Campaigns

Public Meeting July 2015  

14th July 2015

Community Litter Pick

October 2015

Abbey/Devonshire/Melbourne House improvements

January 2016-present

Litter Free Zone

20th June 2016

Don’t drop-it, Bin it

July 2016

Public Meeting – Alleyway  Gating Scheme

28th November 2016

Victoria Park Play equipment

November - present

Labour campaigns

On going

Litter pick and Walkabout

Monthly since January 2016 - present

 

1

Shadow Portfolio for Housing

2

Full Council Meeting

Compulsory Meetings

5

NPH Board Member

6

NPH Audit & Risk

7

NPH Finance

Council Meetings

8

Scrutiny 1

9

Scrutiny 2  Child Sexual Exploitation CSE

10

Scrutiny 3  Homelessness

11

Scrutiny 4 Emissions Strategy

12

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP

Community Meetings

13

Friends of St James Library (FOSJL)

14

Friends of Victoria Park (FOVP)

15

SJRA

16

Victoria Parks management

External Body Meetings

17

NCC Adult Health & Well-being Scrutiny

18

Northampton Rails Users Group

Additional NBC Meetings

19

NBC Disabled Peoples Forum

20

NBC Northampton Women’s Forum

21

NBC Diverse Communities Forum

I am happy to discuss the contents from each of the above meetings upon request.

                                                           

Borough Councillor Empowerment Fund

Cllr. has £3000 to spend in the ward. Below is my spend to date May 2016-April2017

Group

Activity

How Much

Spence, St James & Dallington Youth Group

To re-establish youth group

£500

St James Library

Coffee morning room hire

£475

St James Primary School

Campaigning materials for Don’t Drop-it, Bin it and Litter Free Zone

£1300

POP Women’s Group

Support running of group

£250

Doddridge Centre

Boiler costs

£575

 

Ways to get in touch:

T:     0777 241 4316

E:     cllr.rashraf@northampton.org.uk   

Tw:  @rufiaashraf                                                 

F:      www.facebook/rufiaashraf                                 

W:    www.northamptonlabour.org.uk

 

 

       St James

Coffee Morning

 

 
   
 

 

 

 

 

 


       Every Wednesday 9.30-11.30am

                   St James Library

138 St James' Rd

                            Northampton  NN5 5LQ                                         

 

Refreshment contribution 50p

For more information please contact:  07708298135

 

Funded by Councillors Empowerment Fund

Councillor Advice Surgery

 

Do you have concerns or worries were you live?

 

Then maybe I can assist please

come and see me at my monthly Advice Surgeries which take place at:  St James Library every

3rd Saturday of the month: 

From 10.30-12pm.

 

January    February    March      May    June

July                   September          October

November

 

 

For more information please contact me on:

0777 241 4316 or cllr.rashraf@northampton.org.uk

                                                               

                                                                    St James Ward

        Cleaner, Greener & Safer St James

Community Campaign Dates since 2016-2017

Walkabout and Litter Picks

                 January - March          2016

                  April –July                   2016

                  September– November 2016

Annual Report

Dear Residents, friends and supporters It has certainly been a very busy year for Labour in Northampton.  You will see from my report that I attend many internal and external...

rufiainlane1.jpg

Alleyways

Read more

Borough report – Cllr Rufia Ashraf 26th May 2016

Dear committee,

Please forward my apology to all the residents and guests attending tonight’s meeting. I am sorry that I am unable to attend as I have a prior engagement elsewhere.
However, I value your input and am happy to take up any enquiries raised tonight from residents please ask them to contact me Cllr.rashraf@hotmail.com or 0777 241 4316 or via the SJRA.
My Report:
1, Works at Abbey House, Devonshire House and Melbourne House are underway. Workmen are now working on all the flats and one is near completion. I will be continuing my conversations with NPH about the car park, parking issues and security of tenants in the flats.
2, Works at Dovercourt is also nearly completed. The works include internal and external works, carpark and bin storage area. I look forward to tenants returning.
3, I have asked NPH to relocate the Euro Bins from Ambush Street to Byfield road to deter local residents from dumping rubbish. The bins are for tenants use, therefore I have requested they be enclosed for tenants access only.
4, We are facing a huge problem with litter and fly tipping in St James, we are tied into our current contract until 2018 and we know it doesn’t work. For a long time I have been thinking about what we can do locally. Therefore, I approached the council and sat around the table with officers, Portfolio holder for environment, SJRA, Warden, Park Ranger, FOVP, NPH and Ground Works to see if we can make part of St James Litter Free Zone. It will come with enforcement, council monitoring the zone including my own input daily. I am confident this will benefit local community and visitors to the area but most importantly we have to change people’s behaviour and habits, and I hope it will empower other areas to start thinking the same.
To promote cleaner environment the young ambassadors from St James Primary School are joining me launch ‘Don’t drop-it, bin it’ campaign tomorrow, we are meeting outside Iceland 1.30pm. Please come along and show your support.
5, In previous meetings I have said where I stand with the Waste to Energy Plant. Landfill is an issue for Northampton, far too much waste is going into landfill and we need to find alternatives. I agree with the residents, the location for the plant is in the wrong place and therefore the plant should be rejected. I therefore oppose the gasification plant. However, we must remembers its not just an issue for St James as it will affects the whole borough and I will continue to keep the pressure up at the Borough.
If there are any concerns raised tonight kindly forward them to me. As every I will endeavour to keep SJRA updated on progress.
Regards
Cllr. R Ashraf
26th May 2016

Report to SJRA

Borough report – Cllr Rufia Ashraf 26th May 2016 Dear committee, Please forward my apology to all the residents and guests attending tonight’s meeting. I am sorry that I am...

Thank You Mayor,

 

In recent months we have discussed in this chamber the problem of bad lordlords. Each time we have acknowledged that there are many good landlords in the town that are a credit to Northampton. The Labour Group calling for an additional private sector housing officer should not come as a surprise as we have been calling for this for some time now.

 

 

I give credit to the current housing team who seem to understand that we need to get tough. It is an outrage that no bad landlords have been prosecuted in the last 2 years. However, despite the brilliance of the current housing team they are at the end of the day understaffed. If the Private Sector Housing Team is going to achieve they need another private sector housing officer as soon as possible.

 

The need to clamp down on bad landlords has been recognised on both sides of this chamber and so we are hoping this initiative gets unanimous support for councillors.  

budget housing speech

Thank You Mayor,   In recent months we have discussed in this chamber the problem of bad lordlords. Each time we have acknowledged that there are many good landlords in...

Please see my speech to full council

Thank You Mayor,

The issue of overcrowding is a big issue in many homes across our town.

 What people class as overcrowded and what the Council class as overcrowded can be very different.  Overcrowding is a serious problem in some households in our town. Living in overcrowded houses can have a detrimental impact on personal welfare and a child’s education.

I believe the statutory definition of overcrowding is too low and so we need much stronger local criteria. I want the Borough Council to do what it can to help alleviate overcrowding in homes by going beyond the legal duties and definitions. We are asking the Council to fundamentally review the Allocations Policy to ensure residents are not living in overcrowded conditions in future.

 

Change policy on overcrowding

Please see my speech to full council Thank You Mayor, The issue of overcrowding is a big issue in many homes across our town.  What people class as overcrowded and...

Housing and Planning Bill

This is my speech to the full council on December 2nd.Thank You Mayor,

Included in this bill are reforms such as banning orders for rogue landlords, ‘rent clawback’ measures, and better data sharing on bad landlords. The Labour Group welcomes these proposals, they will make an important difference to the lives of private renters. There is an opportunity to do even more to improve the sector.

However, there are truly problematic things in this bill. The Housing and Planning Bill introduces duties for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to enforce the Right to Buy extension to housing associations. It also brings in provisions to make local authorities pay a fixed sum to government each year based on income from selling high-value vacant homes, and places duties on councils to promote the supply of discounted Starter Homes. In short, it gives Provisions for councils to make a fixed payment to government each year, based on an estimate for the income from selling high-value vacant homes. It also places a duty on councils to consider selling vacant high-value housing. In addition, also imposes measures to force ‘high-income social tenants’ to pay up to market rents.

As Starter Homes are not currently affordable to most families on low-and-middle incomes, they should be built in addition to, not in place of, existing affordable housing. Local authorities should not be compelled to accept them if they are not affordable to their local community.

The bill will not help most people struggling to buy their own home, will mean a severe loss of affordable homes for local communities across England, will centralise significant powers in the hands of the secretary of state and deprive councils of the capacity to meet the housing needs of their communities and local people of a proper say in the planning process; and will weaken the obligation of private developers to contribute towards affordable homes for local people.

So we want the Leader of the Council to write to Greg Clarke with our concerns, discuss these concerns in a meeting with our three MPs and then spell out the consequences of the bill on our website. 

Housing and Planning Bill

Housing and Planning Bill This is my speech to the full council on December 2nd.Thank You Mayor, Included in this bill are reforms such as banning orders for rogue landlords,...

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