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Slough councillor slams Royal Borough's Borough Local Plan as 'social cleansing'

James Hockaday

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead's (RBWM) Borough Local Plan (BLP) was slammed as 'social cleansing' and 'a scam' at a Slough Borough Council (SBC) meeting last night (Wednesday).

SBC's planning committee met to discuss the council's official response to the submission version of the BLP, which lays out the Royal Borough's strategy for meeting its demand for housing up until 2033.

The submission version of the plan takes into account responses from its consultation stage.

At last night’s meeting, councillors criticised the Royal Borough for not specifying any affordable housing for rent in its plan.

Slough councillors have concerns this would mean more people would be priced out of the affluent Royal Borough, putting more pressure on Slough's ever-increasing housing demand.

They have also accused the Royal Borough of being uncooperative with their neighbouring councils.

Councillor James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) said: "This is a deliberate strategy of theirs that's been going on for the past 20 to 25 years.

"They know what they're doing. They know what their desired clientele is and who should live there."

He accused the Royal Borough of 'exporting the poor people'.

"It's offensive,” he added. “We would be derelict in our duty not to call them out on it."

Part of Slough Borough Council's response to the plan is to invite RBWM into a Memorandum of Understanding to help resolve any outstanding issues.

However Cllr Swindlehurst was sceptical, saying a Memorandum of Understanding 'isn't worth the paper that it's written on'.

He called the Royal Borough's housing strategy a 'scam' and said: "It's not fair that we're the only borough that's meeting all the affordable housing need."

Cllr Ted Plenty (Lab, Langley St Mary's) said: "This is the 21st century, we're supposed to be civilised," before calling RBMW's strategy 'some form of social cleansing'.

"The poor can go and do what they want but we're not having houses for them here," he quipped, referring to the Royal Borough.

It did, however, acknowledge the RBWM's concessions to release more of its own green belt land to meet its own housing needs.

The meeting took place at St Martins Place in Bath Road.

UPDATE 1.36pm:

Senior Royal Borough councillors have responded to the comments made.

Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside), leader of the council, said: "I thought their comments were inflammatory, inaccurate and unhelpful. We are keen to cooperate with our neighbouring local authorities, and I am sure the inspector will carefully consider the merits of any Regulation 20 representations from Slough BC at examination of the emerging RBWM BLP".

Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) ,cabinet member for planning, said: “They are entitled to their opinion, the BLP is an emotive subject and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

“I am not interested in having a war of words with them. Our policy has allocated 30 per cent affordable housing and this will be delivered through tenures including shared ownership, key worker, and rental.

“It’s a bit rich for them to say that we have not engaged when they have been present at the meetings. We are continuing to engage and we will still engage with all the neighbouring authorities. It’s a long process.”

He said if Slough Borough Council was ‘aggrieved’ about the site in Austen Way it could put it forward in its representation to the Regulation 19 consultation.

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  • Slough Greens

    12:12, 17 August 2017

    Sloughs working class have been purged for years. Where are people going to work ? our offices are being converted to flats for affluent city workers!

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  • Pursuer

    11:11, 09 August 2017

    Hi SBC, Given the vast panoply of attractions within Slough I doubt anyone would want to move to Maidenhead-even if sufficient, so called 'affordable' housing was available. Maidenhead does however have a vast range of charity shops, coffee bars & hairdressers, oh and also M&S and Wilco. My wife goes shopping, apart from just groceries, to Slough & Reading as there are so many more choices and parking is plentiful.

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  • Slough Borough Council

    13:01, 03 August 2017

    Dear Pursuer, Farnham Common, Farnham Royal and Stoke Poges are not in Slough, they are in South Bucks. As for any social housing in Maidenhead - this article and local plan it is talking about relates to new homes being built, not those that are already there, so any current social housing is not relevant.

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    • Pursuer

      18:06, 03 August 2017

      Thanks for the corrections. However given your response I wonder how it is that Slough rated so highly in a recent list of places to live. Obviously there must be attractions albeit this is probably outside of the 'affordable' housing issue that you argue.That said everyone can form their own opinions based on individual perceptions. I of course merely pass through or by.

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      • Slough Borough Council

        15:03, 04 August 2017

        Oh Pursuer, by just passing us by you are missing so much. We are rated so highly because... we have some of the best education in the country with GCSE results in the top 10 nationwide, some lovely parks and open spaces three with green flags, a full range of housing types from million pound homes to social housing, excellent transport links (with Crossrail coming soon as well), a booming economy, more corporate HQs than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together, a multi-million investment in our leisure services, the newest and arguably the best library and cultural centre The Curve, huge investment in new homes, regeneration programmes and infrastructure, new owners of the town centre who are soon to release big plans for redevelopment and a landscape that is changing by the day. But possibly the best thing about our amazing town is the people. We are the most diverse community in the country (outside of London) and since the 1930s people have come from across the country and across the world to live, work and raise their families here. Everyone is different, so no one is different and the vast majority of people get on well. All towns have their issues, their petty crimes, their areas of deprivation, their things to improve, but Slough never stands still. So next time, instead of passing by or through, stop for a while, we'd love to welcome you.

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