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Harlow Tories continue to claim council newspaper funded by rent payers

News / Tue 29th Apr 2014 at 12:28pm

EVER since the Labour administration on Harlow Council decided to fund a council newspaper from rents rather than taxes, they have tried to avoid answering questions about the decision.

Tenants have asked questions at committee meetings and on tenant-led-housing improvement panels as to why publicity going to every house in Harlow should be paid for out of rents, when only one third of properties in the town are council houses.

Cllr Simon Carter, shadow housing spokesman said, “Spending from the council’s rent account is very strictly controlled. Labour are now using general guidance on council publicity during elections to avoid answering relevant and important questions on how the rent money is being spent. Labour have used the excuse that people in private homes, or their friends and family, may be on the waiting list, so therefore they have an interest.”

Tenants asked what consultation the council undertook in reaching their decision. How many private occupiers were asked? How many tenants were asked if they wanted their rent money spent on publicity going to home owners rather than on new kitchens and bathrooms?

At a recent tenant’s panel, they were told that as the questions challenged council policy they could not be answered because of ‘purdah’ *.

Cllr Carter added, “The tenants were amazed and shocked at this response. They, as a panel, have been seeking factual answers to questions for months as to the basis for taking money from the rent account for general publicity. The tenants’ panels are strictly non-political, they are open to any tenant to belong. They were established under statute for the council, as landlord, to engage with their tenants and for the tenants to hold the council to account with a view to improving services.

“What do Labour have to hide? Why have they suddenly gone shy on publicity? What has happened to Labour’s commitment to “Consultation, consultation, consultation? What is so controversial about what is now council policy?

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