Savva leaves housing role at Enfield Civic Centre after two years of turmoil

George Savva led Enfield Council’s housing department during a period when local homelessness soared to unprecedented levels

George Savva (credit Enfield Council)
George Savva (credit Enfield Council)

A new cabinet member for housing has been appointed at Enfield Council.

George Savva, who held the post for two years, has stepped down from the role following a turbulent two years which has seen rates of homelessness spiral out of control in the borough, while scores of residents still remain living in three council tower blocks set to be decommissioned over safety fears.

Appointed in Cllr Savva’s place is Ayten Guzel, who was previously an associate cabinet member without a portfolio.

An Enfield Labour spokesperson said: “Cabinet positions are confirmed on an annual basis following an election at Labour group’s AGM. Cllr Guzel and Cllr Savva were successful in their candidacies for cabinet and associate cabinet member, respectively.

“We would like to express our gratitude to Cllr Savva for his work as cabinet member for housing. He has worked to support Enfield families while government inaction has allowed the homelessness crisis to spiral out of control.

“We are confident that Cllr Guzel will continue delivering more and better homes for Enfield residents – from thousands new council homes to making our existing homes decent and energy efficient.”

The urgent need to address the borough’s housing crisis was made clear during this year’s budget-setting process, when it was revealed the council had overspent on temporary accommodation by £19m during 2023/24 – as hundreds of families were forced to spend months living in expensive emergency accommodation such as hotels.

The crisis has been driven at least in part by the borough’s high rate of Section 21 no-fault evictions, something which the Conservative government has repeatedly promised to ban since 2019. But the promise now looks set to be left unkept going into this summer’s general election.

An extra £7m has been budgeted for housing this year but a report written by the council’s head of financial strategy earlier this year warned that should such a rate of overspending continue “this would require a further unplanned, potentially unsustainable, draw from reserves”.

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To help stem the spending, Cllr Savva introduced a new housing policy last year in which families living in emergency bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation are given only one offer of housing before the council discharges its duty to put a roof over their heads – with these offers often being far away from Enfield, in places as far flung as Durham, Hartlepool and Blackpool.

Last year Cllr Savva also rejected calls to resign over his handling of the situation at Shires Estate, where two tower blocks were discovered to have structural faults that could put them at risk of collapse in the event of a gas boiler explosion, something which prompted the council to switch off their gas supplies.

The Dispatch reported in January that more than 100 residents were still living in the blocks over a year after the safety issues were first raised. A third block in Edmonton, Walbrook House, is also being decommissioned for similar reasons.

Last year the council also paused all non-emergency housing repairs in a move to save money.

The members of the council’s cabinet and their portfolios for 2024/25 have been confirmed as follows:

  • Children’s Services – Abdul Abdullahi
  • Finance and Procurement – Tim Leaver
  • Housing – Ayten Guzel
  • Planning and Regulatory Services – Susan Erbil
  • Transport and Waste – Rick Jewell
  • Environment, Culture and Public Spaces – Chinelo Anyanwu
  • Health and Social Care – Alev Cazimoglu
  • Community Cohesion and Enforcement – Gina Needs

Nesil Caliskan and Ergin Erbil will continue as the leader and deputy leader of the council respectively.

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