THE Leader of Thurrock Council is writing to his counterpart at Westminster to ask why the central London council thought it proper to “dump” residents in Thurrock without notice.
Cllr John Kent said on Monday (23 March): “The first I – or the council – knew about this was when the Westminster Council opposition group sent me a press release.
“I am now writing to Philippa Roe both to ask why they think it appropriate to act like this in someone else’s backyard and why they are so short-sighted?
“I also want to know that they plan to contribute to the costs we in Thurrock will be facing. Unlike Westminster we take our responsibilities seriously.”
He added: “Buying private homes is perfectly legal, but if they’d had the courtesy to talk with us in the first place we may have been able to come to a deal – a deal that would be better for Westminster Council, a deal that would be better for the poor souls they’re dumping here, better for Thurrock Council and better for Thurrock as a whole.
“I think they have spent Â£3Â½ million already, and plan to spend up to Â£28 million more by September.
“Had they had the common sense to talk with us first, they could have used this money to work with us and build brand new homes and provide good supportive housing, properly managed rented homes to make sure these families have all the support they need –help us fulfil our housing targets, help us make sure there are school places ready and waiting, and help us provide for thee people’s social care needs.
“Instead, they appear to be simply dumping and forgetting.”
In his letter Cllr Kent points out there is a protocol for London-based councils which has been ignored by Westminster.
He said: “As people here know we are using innovative ideas to build more homes for local people, trying to kick-start the local home-building industry with Gloriana, bringing in millions to build more homes along the river-front and building more council homes at the same time.
“This government says it want to encourage new home building, especially in this area around London – how can it support this counter-productive and short-sighted scheme – doing local people out of homes and failing to use the money wisely.
“All they had to do was to pick the phone up and call us.”
He added that Westminster can be assured Thurrock Council’s private sector housing team will inspect and checks these homes thoroughly, just as it does for all rented homes in the borough.
Cllr Kent said: “We are proud we have many strategies to house our own families locally, including building for private rent or sale as well as building new council homes; and our housing strategy is centred on helping our own people.
“Thurrock is a growth area with excellent schools and great transport links so we are sure the families will be happy and well settled here, it is not their fault Westminster seems to have turned its back on them.”