A SENIOR Harlow Conservative has labelled Labour run Harlow Council “incompetent over failure to build council houses”.
Cllr Simon Carter, Shadow Housing Cabinet Member said:
“At Thursday’s (10 Sep 20) Cabinet Meeting we learnt Harlow’s Labour run Council lost £3.5M intended for building council houses. When a council sells a council house it has three years to spend the receipt on new council housing. Two and half years later and we learn they could lose another £3.5M next March, apparently because the Government doesn’t allow them enough time.
“Have they learnt nothing in those three years? The Council says there are a host of problems in building new houses. 14 new houses intended for Bushey Croft is a prime example. Outline planning permission was granted in August 2018, but it took the Council another year before they spotted the land was intended to be allotments, and there was a legal process to change it housing land. Don’t they carry out due diligence before they embark on a development?
“We were told last night that construction was just about to go out to tender, although there were no details in the Cabinet Work Plan and no budget for it. Two years ago the Council set up its own company to build houses, HTS (Housing and Regeneration) Ltd, so why is it going out to a protracted tender process?
“Lister House is another example of delay. This major development for 48 properties was granted planning permission in December 2018, but it was another year before permission to demolish the existing buildings was sought.
“With delays like these, it is small wonder the council cannot meet the three year deadline.
“Instead, the council intends to buy 45 three bed houses in the open market by the end of March – but they haven’t started yet. So instead of investing in new council houses they are giving the money to the private sector to buy existing properties. I am sure that goes down well with the Momentum wing of the local Labour Party!
“To lose one lot of £3.5M may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two lots can be regarded as more like carelessness.”
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