Harlow Conservatives welcome new council houses built by HTS
News / Fri 9th Jul 2021 at 12:56pm
CONSERVATIVE Housing spokesman, Cllr Simon Carter, today welcomed the first council houses to be built by the council’s own company, HTS Group Ltd.
This is an important step forward as part of a wider plan to meet local housing need.
Cllr Carter said: “I am very proud to see HTS preparing to build its first houses for the Council. I have been very critical of the local Labour Party over many years about its failure to build any homes, and to not maximise the potential of HTS, which the previous administration set up three years ago.
”Harlow Labour Party also managed to lose £3.5 million to the government after it failed to use the money for more housing.
“This site at The Hill, Old Harlow will require a specialist contractor to carefully manage the demolition of a semi-detached house, which is in a dangerous condition. This will unlock a site for two new semi-detached homes.
“The Conservative plan for housing is to actively work on unblocking the ‘pipeline’ of several hundred new homes by using HTS and its skills and experience. We hope to be making more announcements in the near future about building Harlow back Better.”
So in just eight weeks the Tories have identified a scheme, drawn up the plans and agreed the work. Pull the other one Simon. Schemes such as these take months to prepare not weeks and you know it. You also know that there were already plans in process for HTS to build further Houses. So please stop misleading the electorate by claiming credit for the work of the past Labour administration. Like you we welcome the fact that this work is now coming to fruition with the building of council houses. Unlike you we recognise the nonsense of continuing to sell off the existing stock when we have an acute shortage social / council houses. Cllr Tony Edwards
Tony Edwards, the policy of the Right to Buy Council houses is not made by Harlow Conservative, as I imagine you might be aware (I could be wrong); it is Law. Actually, a law made by the Thatcher government to create a home owning democracy, giving many people a chance to have a genuine stake in their communities. You might also know that this right was respected by subsequent Labour governments of Blair and Brown who never changed the legislation. Come on Tony, pull the other one!
Connie, I think it was an economist (Maynard Keynes) who said "when the facts change I change my mind". The facts have changed - we now have an acute shortage of Council Houses - so it now makes no sense to build Council houses only to have to continue sell them off at a discount. A large number of Harlow houses are now privately rented - with the average rental being £1189 pcm. The majority of these were former Council houses which were subsequently bought from former tenants who sold the houses they bought at a discount from the Council under the "right to buy scheme". Unfortunately the Harlow Conservatives and the Conservative Government have yet to grasp this simple fact. It the politics of the madhouse.
The “Right to buy” law should be changed when the selling of a council property bought under the scheme. In my opinion, The council should buy it back to re-let, at buyers value.
Councillor Simon Carter has told me on numerous occasions over several years that HTS were under utilized in its capacity to build housing. Clearly, it takes a Conservative administration to exploit a business opportunity which Labour had sitting in its lap.
Tony, I agree that building council housing is a high risk venture. A tenant who has rented a Council property anywhere in England acquires the right to buy after 3 years with a significant discount at a cost to local taxpayers. However, the law is very unlikely to change and neither a Harlow Labour or Conservative Council can do anything about it. Are you therefore saying that it is folly to build Council houses in Harlow? Not to mention the lack of space. Does that explain why so few Council houses were built here over the past 10 years?
The Harlow Alliance Party are the only Party to press Harlow Council to build bungalows and homes for older residents, which with certain facilities fall outside of the Right To Buy Legislation. Within a few years the sitting tenant of these new houses may well exercise their right to buy with a discount. Building homes for older residents has many benefits, it allows larger homes to be let to families needing them, homes will not need to be adapted for older residents with physical impairment, they are cheaper to heat and maintain and will usually have just a small garden to keep in good order. The was Frederick Gibberds plan for the town, unfortunately a weak Council and greedy developers has meant that very few such homes have been built in the town in the last 30 years. This is not a high risk venture. The evidence produced in the Local Plan for the need for such homes is quite clear. Nationally, one new council home is being built for every seven council homes sold.
Just for the record this decision to award the contract to HTC was made by the Labour administration and not the Tory group. We looked at several sites were we felt HTS could help design and build homes. We chose this site as it’s about demolition and new build. Other future council builds in the pipe line had also been identified as alternative sites for HTS to lead on which can include sites for small businesses to be built We have to challenge the Tories about rewriting history.
Tenpin, much of what you say makes good sense. Focus on building smaller homes for elderly residents and giving greater incentives to free up larger council properties occupied by one or two people.