Robert Halfon claims Harlow Council was offered troubled Terminus House for £1
General Election 2019 / Sun 24th Nov 2019 am30 09:02am
CONSERVATIVE candidate for Harlow, Robert Halfon, has claimed that Harlow Council was offered converted office block Terminus House for just £1.
The claim was made at the Harlow Question Time on Monday night.
The general question posed was regarding the impact of the converted office blocks in the town.
After the Labour and Lib-Dem candidates spoke, Mr Halfon, who is defending a majority of 7,031, pointed out that it was Labour-led London boroughs that were responsible for placing “vulnerable” people in the office blocks.
He later told the audience “I was told by somebody senior in Harlow Council that Terminus House was offered to Harlow Council for just £1.”
After the meeting,, YH spoke to Harlow Council.
A spokesperson said: “The council has searched its records and cannot find any information about Terminus House being offered to the council for £1.
The council was in discussions around 10 years ago with one of the former owners of Terminus House about the redevelopment of the town centre and how their buildings within the town centre might fit into any proposals.
At no point during these discussions was there any talk about the council buying Terminus House. When Terminus House was sold in 2016 the council was not informed until after it was sold.
Land registry information suggests that the sale price of Terminus House at that time was in excess of £10m.
Before making outlandish claims that Terminus House was offered for sale to Harlow Council for £1, Mr Halfon should have checked the publicly available land registry records which show Terminus House was sold for £8,700,000 plus £1,740,000 in VAT. Halfon will hide behind the phrase “I was told by someone senior in Harlow Council”, but I doubt he will name the source, because frankly I doubt it exists. This election is being characterised by lies being told on a massive scale by the Tories, not least that they “had to call the election” because Parliament wouldn't pass their Brexit deal, only days after Parliament did pass the Brexit deal. Now we see disinformation and dishonesty filtering down to a local level.
The claim made by Robert Halfon is one that has been heard for at least two years, the response from Harlow Council and Cllr Ingall make interesting reading for a number of reasons. I very much doubt that any discussion about the future of Terminus House ever took place at a meeting(s) which were minuted and when the Council's response says "around 10 years ago" it suggests that they have not looked back in any detail. In fairness to Cllr Ingall and many of the present Councillors, they were not Councillors 10 years ago. With a robust vision for the town centre and now with hindsight, the Council should have been pro-active and invested in this building and others so they could be at the centre of the redevelopment of the town centre, rather than bit players.Either party could be seriously embarrassed if a council whistle blower or former member of staff was to prove what did happen, "about" 10 years ago.
Typical Ingall, rapid exit from the question, an answer that he hasn't even corroborated, and guaranteed, " they're all lying " as a passing aside. Typical bullying Momentum stooge.
If a building is being offered for £1 there is usually a reason for this. If the offer was made, I suspect it was before any renovation work was done. So if Harlow Council had taken up the offer they would have been lumbered with a 40(?) year old building with (probably) a leaky roof + asbestos, flaky wiring + asbestos, dodgy lifts + asbestos, leaky windows + asbestos etc. If the offer was made about 10 years ago this would be at the tiime of the global financial crisis. With the likelyhood of cuts, redundancies, and uncertanty, would this have been the right time to take on a project the size of Terminus House? Even if the claim is true, rejecting it at the time may have been the sensible decision. Surely this claim is more significent : "Labour-led London boroughs that were responsible for placing “vulnerable” people in the office blocks" I read a artcle recently that said that the local councils hardest hit by cuts were inner-city councils in the north, and in London. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/24/deprived-urban-areas-shoulder-burden-of-funding-cuts Is it any surprise that Labour-led London boroughs are having to offload their “vulnerable” people when they can't afford to deal with them.
kthe5. Same old distortions of the known facts. It's nothing to do with why's and wherefore, all about a suggestion of offers made to this council re; Terminus House and the contradiction by M Ingall. Much too saucy for me kt.
It is a simple fact that if the Council was offered the chance to buy this block, for the very reasons kthe5 has given, the Council would have undertaken a detailed appraisal of the buildings condition before making any decision. Records of this must still be available somewhere in the Councils archive system, if indeed they took place at all. Yet again it is only the Harlow Alliance Party that can actually provide some facts about who has used office conversions for housing homeless families. A Freedom of Information Request made of Harlow Council in July 2018 revealed that many other Councils were not even advising the Council that they were housing homeless families in this town because they were not listed on the information given to us. There were 20 Councils listed, including Basildon, Uttlesford and Epping Forest, whilst it was known that Southend had also sent families here. The numbers however were so small they clearly did not reflect what was actually happening in this town. The real issue now is what is to happen to the former 13 office blocks being used as homes if all Councils stop using them to house homeless families?
As a senior councillor who was around 10 years ago and was directly involved in the town centre regeneration I can confirm there is absolutely no truth in the claim made by RH. 10 years ago we were never offered to buy the building for £1. Not sure when a lie becomes a truth. The truth is plain and simple it never happened. If it was offered we would have bought it and knocked it down. No offer made. No offer received. It’s a lie.