Camden Council

Camden Council 1971-1976

Frank was elected councillor for Holborn Ward in 1971 and put great effort into stopping developers and landowners getting planning permission for change of use from homes to office and to clear and replace St. Alban’s buildings, the last slums in the ward.

He was made chair of the Committee responsible for parks and open spaces, including designated open spaces which had not been cleared and laid out.  He immediately set about turning them into useful open spaces, including Plot 10, Harmood Street and Talacre. He also launched a major street tree planting project.

With a majority of colleagues on the council Frank voted to defy the Heath government’s Housing Finance Act rent increases despite the threat of surcharge which was later lifted by the Wilson government in 1974.

defending council housing

In 1973 the then Leader of the Council Millie Miller resigned to fight the parliamentary seat of Ilford North and Frank was elected Leader of the Council.

Leader Camden Council 1973-76

Under Frank as leader with Geoffrey Bindman, Deputy Leader, Roger Jowell as Chief Whip and John Mills as chair of housing development, Camden Council was building between 500 and 700 new flats a year. At the same time over 6000 flats and homes were bought up from the private sector to provide tenants with security of tenure and lower rents.  These ranged from mansion flats like Lissenden Gardens estate in Highgate to run down blocks like the Hillview estate in King’s Cross. It also included houses bought from the Rugby School estate to ensure the rescue and refurbishment of Great Ormond Street and surrounding streets.

Celebrating Camden Council's purchase of the flats in Parliament Hill: (front row from second left) Christine Collins, Frank Dobson, Reg Wright

Celebrating Camden Council’s purchase of the flats in Parliament Hill: (front row from second left) Christine Collins, Frank Dobson, Reg Wright

Surplus railway land was bought up and developed for housing in Somers Town and Elm Village. The seven acres of historic buildings in front of the British Museum had been designated as the site for the British Library but this was abandoned as a result of a concerted campaign by the Council, Lena Jeger MP and local people.  The British Library built instead on surplus railway land next to St. Pancras Station.

  • Campaigned unsuccessfully to compulsory purchase the flats at Centre Point.
  • Resigned as Leader to take up a senior post with the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

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