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Letter: Mr Davis Has Not Got His Facts Right

Published on: 4 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 4 Feb, 2021

From: Jan Harwood and Caroline Reeves

Lib Dem lead councillors for Housing Delivery and Housing

In response to: Where Are the Promised Affordable Houses?

I’m afraid Mr Davis hasn’t quite got his facts right. The Liberal Democrat election manifesto in 2019 in fact said that our target was to build 3,000 council and social houses for affordable rent within the next 10 years.

In our first year of administration at Guildford Borough Council we were obliged to follow the budget set by the previous administration, but I’m happy to assure Mr Davis that we have not been idle.

Our proposed budget for 2021/22 includes greater capital funding for North Downs Housing to provide 150 more homes for affordable rent in the next four years alone, as well as allocating funding for building new council and social houses on urban brownfield sites like Guildford Park and Bright Hill. This is in addition to the Weyside Urban Village project which will also provide a significant number of new social homes.

Above all, we are following through on our pledge to take advantage of the lifting of the local government borrowing account and will be making use of the hefty surplus in the Housing Revenue Account to provide more council homes and to refurbish existing ones.

GBC officers are working incredibly hard to turn concept into reality and we’ll be making more detailed information public about our plans as the year progresses, but we have not forgotten our election promises.

Together we have been working to move things forward, finding new ways of delivery to ensure we can produce high-quality and affordable housing.

Obviously we face challenges in delivering our agenda, not least the disruption caused by Covid as well as the Conservative government almost doubling interest rates for local government borrowing, so it remains to be seen whether it will still be possible to hit our original target.

But we are determined to continue to be ambitious and the result will undoubtedly be far more homes for affordable rent than we would have seen under the Conservatives.

We are proud of our ambition for housing in Guildford after more than a decade of stagnation. Guildford residents deserve better and we are committed to tackling the issue of housing head-on.

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Responses to Letter: Mr Davis Has Not Got His Facts Right

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    February 5, 2021 at 8:51 am

    The housing policies of the Guildford Conservatives and the Guildford Lib Dems are indistinguishable. Neither has taken the trouble to understand the real problem. They only compete to outdo each other’s empty grandiloquence.

    Result: they share equal credit for rushing through a disastrous local plan that pays no heed to sustainability, relies entirely on car transport on the A3, and panders to the requirements of the housebuilding lobby.

    So-called “affordable” housing is not affordable. It is just a sop to the housebuilders.

    A pair of poodles who yap incessantly, until some housebuilder or other throws them a bone.

  2. Paul Spooner Reply

    February 5, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    I found the reference to North Downs Housing Company very interesting as this was clarified recently as an income stream for Guildford BC and rents are not based on social housing rent levels. Has this changed now?

    The previous administration actually delivered new social housing, rather than just making promises. It is good to see that the current coalition is stating that they plan to deliver some new social housing, but how many over the next 12 months with keys handed over to new occupants?

    Paul Spooner is the Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

  3. Howard Smith Reply

    February 6, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    I agree with Cllr Spooner, the purpose of North Downs Housing (NDH) needs to be clarified. Is NDH there to provide good quality low-cost housing as originally intended, or is it to generate revenue for GBC? I fear it cannot succeed to its full potential if it includes the latter.

    Furthermore, can the Liberal Democrats tell us how many properties they have built in the last two years and how many they expect to build in the next two? Is it 150? If so, this seems terribly unambitious compared to their election rhetoric to create 3,000 or more.

    Howard Smith was the Labour Party Candidate for Guildford in the 2017 general election.

  4. Geoff Davis Reply

    February 6, 2021 at 7:34 pm

    Well said, Howard Smith.

    He asks the same questions that I was seeking answers to, suspecting a dismal performance by the Liberal Democrats.

    The letter from Cllrs Reeve and Harwood is entitled “Mr Davis Has Not Got His Facts Right..”, but the reverse is the case.

    My former GBC Lead Member Colleague Philip Brooker has clarified the situation in his letter “ A Confusing Letter (Reeve/Harwood) Economical with the Truth, Calls For an Apology.”

    Unless those Liberal Democrats can now produce real evidence that they are living up to their highly ambitious manifesto, then they must withdraw their comments and issue an apology to both Philip Brooker and myself.

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