01:45PM, Thursday 18 May 2017
Cllr Malcolm Beer
‘We're chasing a horse and it’s already bolted.’
That was the reaction of an opposition councillor on the Royal Borough this week when he found out a council response to a Government consultation had already been sent – before it went to the borough’s scrutiny panels.
In February, the Government published its housing white paper, which contained a series of proposals intended to improve the delivery of housing, and invited local authorities to respond by May 2.
Cllr Malcolm Beer (Ind, Old Windsor) criticised the council’s reply to the Government paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ after councillors were recommended to ‘strongly endorse’ it.
At the meeting of the planning and housing overview and scrutiny panel on Tuesday, Cllr Beer said: “It’s outrageous. I know we are short staffed but this should have been considered before it went, not afterwards.
“The point is, the decision has been made.”
Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield), cabinet member for planning, said there were ‘tight timescales’ and it was important to get the response in on time.
When Cllr Beer continued, he was interrupted by chairman Cllr Richard Kellaway (Con, Bisham and Cookham) who said: “We are here to respond to the questions, we’re not getting into policy decisions.”
Cllr Beer added: “Well what is the point then?
“This is a majority decision, and there is provision for a minority party or person to register their concern about it, otherwise it would just sail through, where this is a disaster.
“We should have considered it.”
The rest of the panel recommended to strongly endorse the council’s response.
The panel also discussed a report about bringing empty homes in the borough back into use.
In the report, it stated there were 609 properties in the borough which have been empty for more than six months.
The plan would see the council bring 25 homes a year back into use by providing a tenant-finding service, providing a full grant or an interest-free loan, helping owners sell their properties and redeveloping empty homes to affordable homes.
The panel recommended the report for approval.
Both reports will go before cabinet later this month.
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