References to the Leasehold Advisory Service were mixed in the debate.
Sir Peter Bottomley questioned whether the ambition to make LEASE financially “self-sustaining” by 2020 was “wrong”.
On the other hand, he said: “LEASE is chaired by Roger Southam, and he and his wife know quite a bit about leasehold property.”
Indeed, they do. Mr Southam is actively involved in leasehold block management and is employed by Savills to acquire new business, while his wife is head of ground rent acquisitions at Mainstay and was formerly employed by the imploded Dorchester Ground Rent Management.
“His [Mr Southam’s] predecessor was Deep Sagar, during whose time LEASE would hold fundraising conferences where it would take the surplus, and the people who paid to come would listen to experts explaining how they could gain extra income from leaseholders.”
“… I do not think that [LEASE] it has ever had a leasehold representative as a member of its board.”
Sir Peter urged broad consultation over “the experience, ability, talents and attitude we want the chairman to have”. But he praised Anthony Essien, the chief executive, “against whom I make no critical comment as he has always been responsive, helpful and straight”.
“If the appointment of a new chairman is coming up, I ask the Government to consult as there is some expertise around and in every other field I have known people get consulted if there is a serious basis for that.”
Housing minister Gavin Barwell replied: “Given its increasingly important role, I want to make sure that LEASE is properly equipped to offer help to everybody who needs it.”
Siobhain McDonagh, (Labour, Mitcham and Morden), also praised the organisation “for all the work that it does to help my constituents”.