Dobson Court: Council estate block named after Frank Dobson opened by former MP
Dobbo laments lack of affordable housing in Camden
15 March, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
Frank Dobson opens Dobson Court
FORMER MP Frank Dobson officially opened a new council estate block named in his honour on Tuesday afternoon.
He urged local and central government to build more homes as he unveiled the plaque at Dobson Court on the Bourne estate in Holborn. Tenants had voted to name one of the new buildings on the estate in Portpool Lane after Mr Dobson, who served as MP for the area for 36 years.
The estate has been part of a regeneration scheme which has created 75 council homes, partly paid for by new private homes, some of which are valued at more than a £1million.
Mr Dobson, a former health secretary, said: “I have an obsession. If there are not enough houses it seems to me the answer is simple: you need to build more. There is no other answer – get more housing, get more flats. “I was elected as a councillor in 1971 and was fortunate enough to be joined by others who shared that obsession.”
Keir Starmer, with the man he followed as MP for Holborn and St Pancras
He added: “We were determined to build flats wherever we could. We averaged 500 new flats a year in the 1970s. Another thing we did, which was opportunistic, was to buy anything that was going. In five years, we bought 6,780 flats from private landlords.” He added that privatisation of Royal Mail meant prime land at Mount Pleasant, where he had long lobbied for council homes, was going to be developed for private profit – making it even harder to find homes for key workers.
“When I first became an MP I knew a nurse at Great Ormond Street would not be able to buy a house around here,” he said. “Over the years things went up in price and it became clear that junior doctors could not afford to buy around here. Now, consultants at Great Ormond Street, on £80,000 a year, cannot live within five miles. “It is a sick society where someone cannot live near the hospital where they are working to save lives. We need to crack this problem and bring the costs down and make homes affordable for people.”
Holborn councillors Awale Olad, Sue Vincent and Julian Fulbrook
On the naming of Dobson Court, he said: “I was staggered when I was told tenants had voted to name the block after me. I thought I’d better test my pulse as they usually name things after you when you have died.” His successor as MP for Holborn and St Pancras, Keir Starmer, said: “He is known in Parliament for health, but housing has always been his passion.” He praised the way Mr Dobson and his colleagues had changed the borough. “It was a radical and important thing to do,” he said.
What about Geoffrey?
WHILE admirers of former MP Frank Dobson were delighted to see a council block named after him, familiar political rivals questioned the move.
David Douglas, Conservative agent in Hampstead and Kilburn, said: “He’s not even dead yet. They could at least wait.
“It’s typical of the Labour council. They have all sorts of things named after [former Labour MP] Lena Jeger and so on. And now this.”
He added: “But they have never named anything after Geoffrey Finsberg. He was a Conservative MP for a long time in this borough but is never remembered with anything – nothing has been named after him.
“It’s disrespectful, and you can quote me on that.”