The Lib Dem / R4GV Council Housing Scandal Continues Apace
By Philip Brooker, Burpham and Merrow County Council Candidate.
In the Lib Dem manifesto for the 2019 GBC local elections, they promised to “Build 3,000 new Council Houses in the next 10 years”. As we are now two years into their term, 600 should now have been delivered.
I have been asking questions (see my letters in the Guildford Dragon dated 6th February and 8th February 2021), and otherwise trying to find out exactly how many have been delivered. The deafening silence makes me think that matters are worse than I thought.
And now we find out that, not only are houses not being delivered, but the Lib Dem / R4GV Council have had to pay central Government £2,344,298.95* of council tax payer’s money for failing to build Council Houses.
Council House tenants have the right to buy their house under the Government right to buy scheme at a less than market price. Money received from the sale of these houses is then expected to be used by the Council to buy or build additional council stock. If the money is not spent within 3 years of the sale, then the Council loses the right to use it and has to forward it to central Government. And this is what has scandalously happened here, to the detriment of local residents and further delays to those 2,000 needy families on the current housing waiting list.
When I was Lead Member for Housing and Homelessness, I had implemented a plan to build approximately 110 council houses per annum, all on Council owned brownfield land, and on sites which had been identified. Not only did this have the advantage of better utilising existing land but eliminated the need to buy additional land which, in Guildford, is extremely costly. What has happened to this plan?
When will the Lib Dem / R4GV Council admit that their election promises were fantasy, their record of building council houses, abysmal, and that they are totally out of their depth in managing the Council’s finances.
Former Lead Member for Housing and Homelessness, Guildford Borough Council.
*Source: Corporate Governance & Standards Committee Agenda, 30th July 2020 item 5, Para 4.6; E-mail from GBC Finance Dept dated 6th August 2020 and Statements made at Budget Meeting, Guildford Borough Council, 10th February 2021.