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Council denies claims it has 'broken promises' on affordable housing
A COUNCIL has denied claims it has broken a promise to invest in affordable housing following the sale of council homes to Red Kite.
Linda Derrick, a member of the Wycombe Labour group, accused Wycombe District Council of using the £18.5m from the sale of its council housing to Red Kite on projects such as the Handy Cross Hub.
She said WDC had pledged to make affordable housing a key priority following the sale in December 2011 and had gone back on its promise after seemingly not reinvesting any of the receipts into affordable homes.
Cllr John Gibbs, WDC’s Cabinet member for Community, denied the claim and said the council had always stated the cash would be used to benefit the wider community, such as major projects.
Cllr Ian Bates, Leader of the Wycombe Labour Group, said: “We suspected WDC would break its promise to council tenants once the sale had gone through and thought little of the £18.5 million would get spent on affordable housing.
“But we are dismayed that not one penny, as far as we can understand, has been spent on affordable housing – and there are no plans to spend the £18.5 million on affordable housing in the foreseeable future.
“What can you say about a Tory council that made promises to council tenants to spend the money on affordable housing to persuade them to vote for the sale – and then deliberately breaks its promise and spends the money on something else?
“Would you believe anything this Tory council promises in future? There are thousands of families in Wycombe who need affordable housing.
"That £18.5m could have helped. Now it is gone. It’s a disgrace.”
Cllr Gibbs, hit back saying the housing transfer document clearly stated receipts from the sale were intended to benefit the wider community.
Cllr Gibbs pointed out WDC had delivered 128 affordable homes since the Red Kite sale and 56 had been found in the current financial year with the council working to secure more with landlords.
WDC holds £1.8m in Section 106 funds which had been earmarked for affordable housing. The pot has been boosted by £800,000 following the sale of four properties in Benjamin Road, he added.
He said: “We have not broken any of our promises. We remain strongly committed to providing affordable homes.
"The council’s position was clearly stated in the Cabinet report ahead of transfer that the balance of the receipt was intended for the benefit of the wider community.
"This was highlighted in the housing transfer offer document which went to every tenant.
“The council has kept its promise and fully allocated the net receipt to a range of schemes contained in our approved Major Projects Programme.”
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