Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Sutton Tories proved clueless on Housing

At last night’s Full Council meeting the Tories were exposed for their lack of understanding of housing matters and despite their professed support for our servicemen and women, refused as a group to commit to the Armed Forces own campaign to establish a Community Covenant between those who serve in the Armed Forces and the local borough.

In a stunning act of political entrenchment the Conservative Group refused to support our amendment to their housing motion. The Lib Dem amendment had to point out that the housing policy they were calling for in their motion to give Armed Forces personnel and their families priority housing when they had historical or family links to Sutton was already our existing policy. Our amendment then went on to broaden the Council’s commitment to our Armed Forces by agreeing to develop a borough covenant in accordance with the Armed Forces current campaign.

This covenant recognises that the needs of existing and returning servicemen and women are much wider than just housing and seeks to enshrine the bond between the Armed Forces and the civic community.

Cllr Hicks, who put forward the original motion had the decency to apologise for his misunderstanding, but Cllr Tony Shields had to be asked to withdraw his remarks having embarked on a rant about the Council’s lack of commitment to the Armed Forces despite having had it explained to him that the commitment they were calling for is already enshrined in our housing policy. How he can square that with his own and his group’s failure to commit to the Armed Forces Covenant proposed by our amendment, which didn’t contradict their motion but clarified and expanded on it, is a mystery.

The Conservative’s second housing faux pas was on their requisition of The Executive decision to apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) for a variation of the Benhill leaseholder percentages to make them fairer to all. They had tabled an amendment which represented a backtracking on their original excuse for requisition and supported the application to the LVT. However the key humiliation was the part of their amendment suggesting that the council should act in such a way that would constitute a breach of the Housing Act 1989 and would therefore effectively swindle the council tenants on the Benhill estate out of at least £75,000 of funding towards necessary works to improve the basic standard of their homes.

Once it had been pointed out to them that their amendment would constitute an illegal act the Conservative bench was confused over whether they were actually able to vote in favour of their own amendment.

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December 6, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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