Greenwich’s Labour Cabinet last night agreed to sell off three plots of public land to developer Pocket Living (to build small one bedroom flats) instead of using the land to build low cost homes.

In what is one of Greenwich Labour party’s lowest ever moments, the option of developing land for the public good through their developer offshoot Meridian Homes wasn’t even mentioned as an option presented to the Cabinet.

It comes days after it was revealed other Labour councils are embracing this option to provide thousands of much needed homes.

Greenwich’s Labour Cabinet members have now forfeited much, if any, right to criticise the Conservative Government on housing and poverty. You can’t seriously bemoan not being able to directly build council homes then not even consider an option which skips those restrictions.

They’ll still bang on about the Tories of course every chance they get but from here on out it’s just hollow words. No more than that. You don’t have to be some extreme left winger to see how cynical and short sighted the action is. Even many on the centre and centre-right would balk at this action.

The justification was laughable. £130k in council tax, as if Meridian built homes are not liable for it too.

Sure, they’ll get a short term cash injection but no long term stable income, and no extra social homes means more people in expensive short term private accommodation. Being an off-shoot of the council, Meridian Home properties are also not liable to Right to Buy.

They’ll no doubt claim the homes being built are “affordable” (after the developer takes a 20% cut) but don’t be fooled. The “affordable” criteria being used is one of the least affordable there is. It won’t be available to most local people in need.

Any way you cut it, this is a terrible deal for taxpayers, people looking for truly affordable homes and those in need. And the final insult is they didn’t even consider an alternative now being embraced by Labour councils nationwide (and even some Tory ones too).

 

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