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Veteran Tory demands apology from Labour over council housing record

Politics / Mon 21st Jul 2014 at 04:30pm

A VETERAN Conservative councillor had demanded an apology from a Labour councillor over his stance on council housing.

Church Langley councillor, Simon Carter was accused by the portfolio holder for Housing, cllr Rod Truan of not being committed to social housing.

In an angry exchange at the meeting of the ruling Labour cabinet, cllr Carter told the chamber that his record and his commitment to social housing was well documented.

After the meeting, cllr Carter issued a statement.

He said: “My issue about the new council houses was not about the policy but about governance. As the discussion progressed it was clear the administration had not read the paper and did not understand what they were letting themselves in for.

“Firstly – the cost – escalating from £1.8M to £2.75M in one year. Why? As I said, £2.7M is a reasonable estimate but has nothing to do with rising costs – the original estimate was, shall we say, naively optimistic.

Secondly there was the funding. There was confusion and ambiguity over whether additional costs could be pulled from the Housing Revenue Account.

“And then there was confusion over how many houses would be built. The administration were going on about planning permission, an entirely separate issue instead of the final paragraph of the report which said that if they couldn’t get the money from the HRA, the might have to lose a site:

See the final three paragraphs from the report.

11. The original projected costs of the Pathfinder Project were £1.8m, with a total available funding of £2.721m. However, current cost estimates provided by the Council’s appointed quantity surveyors, are in the region of £2.75m which is in excess of the available funding. These costs have increased due to rising construction and material costs.

12. Once tenders are returned an accurate forecast of costs will be available. Should these be in excess of the available budget for the project it may be necessary to seek support from the Housing Revenue Account to meet the shortfall in the budget.

13. If support from the HRA is not available and it is necessary to keep within the limits of the original funding budget, it may be necessary to remove one of the three sites from the project to bring the project back within the original budget of £2.721m.”

Cllr Carter concluded: “The report has more holes than Harlow has pot holes. And clearly the administration do not understand what they are doing. Frightening.

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