Thursday, 20 September 2012

A better place, a brighter future...? Not for housing tenants & small businesses


31.07.12 - Cabinet minutes; Page 12
Mr Chairman, I would like to pick up on one of the points on page 12 please regarding Breckland’s affordable housing figures. As detailed in the annual monitoring report, just 66 affordable homes have been built in the district in the last financial year. This is very disappointing. South Norfolk Council on the other hand, as mentioned in the minutes exceeded its target in the last year and other Councils are doing much better than Breckland. Why are we lagging so far behind? There was a fairly typical reply given when I raised this previously – which I shall paraphrase as “it’s the economy stupid” – but surely Breckland should be looking at its own record and what it is doing to address this issue. The minutes state that the policies are correct. Are they? One example of note; In the last 10 years, Breckland Council has received £3.5million in income from ‘right to buy receipts’. As tenants buy their houses, this council receives income. But each time it occurs there becomes one less house available for social rent. This Council chooses to not ring-fence this income, and therefore it does not have to be reinvested back into housing. In the same period that it received £3.5 million, Breckland has invested £2 million into affordable housing. Notice the difference? There’s £1.5 million less has gone back into new affordable housing over that period. No wonder there’s a decline in units available when this Council is taking the money from the demise of social housing, but not reinvesting in a like for like manner. The motto of this council is; “a better place, a brighter future”.

Well, there’s certainly one particular section of the population of Breckland who are wondering if that motto applies to them. A brighter future? Not for the people who have been sat on Breckland’s housing waiting list for years in the hope of getting a property, only to now be thrown off the list entirely. For those that remain, they must surely be wondering if they will ever get the property they need, in the knowledge that the pool of housing available is growing at a slower rate than the demand is increasing. What future remains for them?

04.09.12 – Cabinet minutes; Page 20

Mr Chairman, if our social housing tenants and those on the housing waiting list are feeling un-loved by this Council, spare a thought for our business community. Not only are they contending with the national economic doom and gloom of a double dip recession they’re fighting locally to safeguard their livelihoods and are ever fearful of the implications that charging for our public car parks may bring as well. On top of all that, our Cabinet has refused a request from our economic development team for £15,000 to support business start-ups and refused to match a generous contribution from County Council that would have seen ongoing support provided to businesses. At a time when this Council should be doing all that it can to support local businesses it is dragging its feet. A better place, a brighter future? Our local businesses will surely be thinking that this motto similarly does not apply to them either.

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