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Letter: Why is the Lib Dem / R4GV Council Failing to Provide Homes for Those in Most Need?

Published on: 3 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2021

From: Philip Brooker

former Conservative lead councillor for Housing and Conservative candidate for Guildford East in the forthcoming SCC election

As the former councillor responsible for Housing, I set in motion a plan to deliver in excess of 100 social houses per annum, all on council-owned brownfield land, thus better utilising the land that the council already owned and keeping costs to a minimum.

Cllr McShane stood as a candidate in the 2019 Guildford Borough elections on a manifesto that made the following extraordinary promises.

• “Build 3,000 new council houses in the next 10 years”. (Three times the number I was proposing).
• “Make Developers Build at least 40% affordable housing”. (The forecast for these houses taken from the Local Plan is 3,400 units over 10 years).

Thus, the combined total was 6,400 over 10 years, or 640 per year. I have become increasingly concerned since I left office that my plan has been shelved and that very little (if anything) had been put in place to meet the extraordinary numbers that you promised those residents who voted for you.

Despite my various attempts to establish current progress, I received very little. I thus resorted to making an official Freedom of Information Request (FOI) into the actual number of completions in your first two years of office. This is the response that came back:

2019/20 – 62 Affordable (gross), of those 19 ‘Social Rented’
2020/21 – 31 Affordable (gross), of those 13 ‘Social Rented’

Although the 2020/21 figure was qualified that it was not yet final until publication of the Annual Monitoring Report (2021), I would suggest that any adjustment at this late stage would be minimal.

So, it would seem that over your first two years in office 93 units have been completed (against, on a lineal basis, 1,280 [7%] forecast), of which 32 units were social rented (against, on a lineal basis, 600 [5%] forecast).

Further, in year two of your term of office, there is a downward trajectory of completions by approximately 50%. I would suggest that this is a disaster and that something has gone seriously wrong.

The Lib Dem/ R4GV Council has placed great emphasis on transparency – something which appears to be great rhetoric but with little substance. So, would Cllr McShane please answer these simple questions:

1. What are your plans to make good your election promises?
2. What is your forecast for new completions of both affordable and social rented units by the time your term of office ends (May 2023), and also the forecasts for both until May 2029 [10 years], should you remain in office?
3. What sites have been identified for the 3,000 council houses? (Such vast numbers would surely require the acquisition of commercially available land – or will you put them on the green belt?)
4. How do you intend to finance the 3,000 council houses and what is your projected final cost budget? (I would be surprised if there was much change from £800 million for such a huge scheme). The Lib Dem election manifesto for 2019 states that you have a plan in existence to achieve these aims, so these answers must be readily available.

May I expect a reply within two weeks, please?

 

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Why is the Lib Dem / R4GV Council Failing to Provide Homes for Those in Most Need?

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    April 4, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    I suggest Mr Booker writes to Cllr McShane and tells her where he earmarked the first 100 homes to be built, how far the council had proceeded with the plans and building timeframes, so she could follow those up first.

  2. Philip Brooker Reply

    April 18, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    I asked for a response from Cllr Julia McShane within two weeks which has now elapsed and I have not received an answer, nor even an acknowledgement of receipt. In my letter, I provided analysis that showed that you were 95% behind your target for council houses and 93% behind your target for affordable houses.

    No doubt many residents voted you into office on the strength of these promises. At the very least, you should publish your plans on how you intend to catch up on your current lamentable performance or apologise to local residents for making promises that you had no intention of keeping.

    Again, I look forward to a substantive reply within the next two weeks.

    Philip Brooker is a former borough councillor for Merrow and a Conservative candidate for Guildford East in the forthcoming SCC election.

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