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Sheltered Housing Betrayal of Promise
Throughout the whole of the Northampton Borough Council Liberal Democrat administration between 2007 and 2011 the Conservatives objected to and campaigned against the changes that were being made to the services provided to our vulnerable and elderly sheltered housing tenants.
The then opposition also constantly criticised and supported others that objected both in the Guildhall, the press and by attending public meetings at which Brian Binley MP for Northampton South was also in attendance to the review that the Liberal Democrats initiated.
The Northampton Borough Council Conservative Leader and Cabinet consistently when challenged say they are delivering what was in the manifesto on which they were elected in May 2011.
Let’s look at whether it is true or just another example of putting PR spin before reality.
On page 10 of the Conservative 2011 manifesto under Sheltered Housing it states that,
“We recognise and value the special nature of Sheltered Housing in Northampton, and the need to protect vulnerable adults from uncertainty about the future of their homes. Because of this, Sheltered Housing stock would be retained under the control of Northampton Borough Council.
Conservatives understand the anger felt around changes to Sheltered Housing wardens and will seek to find a solution that is acceptable to residents”.
No-one can be under any doubt that this was a clear and unambiguous commitment to retain sheltered housing with the Northampton Borough Council as the landlord supporting the elderly and vulnerable people who live and have made the houses their homes and also to stop the sheltered housing changes to the warden services and review.
In the budget that all of the Conservatives voted for in February this year they decided without any consultation to spend £2 million over the next two years on trying to persuade Council Tenants to transfer all 12200 of the Borough owned council houses to a Registered Social Landlord, more commonly known as a Housing Association.
This is £2 million of taxpayers, and more importantly rents from council tenants that Labour believe should be spent on improving people’s homes and at a time when we are told almost half of the homes fail to meet even a basic decent homes standard to even suggest spending millions of pounds on consultants to persuade tenants to relinquish their homes to a RSL beggars belief.
What is even more beyond belief is that the Conservatives tried to sneak through the fact that they have included sheltered housing into the transfer policy.
Having been caught out and in answer to the question from Labour “Is Sheltered Housing included” the PR broke down and the Leader of the Council, said that sheltered housing was following “advice from Government that it had to be included”.
Clearly he thought we wouldn’t check, wrong we did.
In asking for a copy of the “Government advice” I met a brick wall as I did when asking for a copy of the advice, receiving response from senior officials that was to say the least a clear and diplomatic avoidance of the question but very clear indication that the officers of the council didn’t know anything about the “Government advice” and that it was for the administration to decide what was going to be transferred.
In the Northampton Chronicle and Echo the Leader of the Council when asked about the consultation process prior to any transfer taking place repeated the Conservatives view that it was the only way forward.
The decision has been made and yet they are going ahead with spending £2 million on consultation?
What are they going to ask the tenants?
“Do you agree with a decision that we have already made and whatever you thing we’re going to ignore you and go ahead anyway”?
This is a complete betrayal of not only those people who live in our sheltered housing but also their families and friends who prior to the election were promised time and time again by the Conservatives that they would be protected.
What is also disgraceful rather than seek a solution the Conservative administration has not only continued with their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats policy but have gone further in deciding to include Sheltered Housing in their Transfer Policy.
All of which raises justifiable questions about the administration having received Government Advice to include Sheltered Housing.
Who in Government gave the advice to the Leader of the Council?
Why didn’t he share the advice with the senior housing officers of the Borough Council?
How is it that the Conservative Councillors and Cabinet don’t appear to have seen the advice?
These are important questions that need to be answered so we and the public can ask whoever in the Government gave the advice on what grounds it was based.
If no such advice was give then why did the Leader of the Council mislead the Council, the media, the people of Northampton and more importantly the Sheltered Housing residents and families?
We don’t know and won’t know until answers have been given with supporting evidence of the “Government advice”.
This is something that will not be allowed to rest and may well lead as we have seen in the past the Conservatives once again being marred with the stench of being less than honest in honouring their manifesto promises.
What is certain is that the elderly and vulnerable who live in Northampton’s Sheltered Housing their families and friends will remember the Borough Council Conservative administrations breaking of what was a promise to protect and provide then with security.