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HomeNewsHeated exchange takes place over housing scheme in Brent

Heated exchange takes place over housing scheme in Brent

A council leader refused to answer questions from a fellow councillor and accused them of “being rude” for raising queries over the authority’s plan to sell off a block of homes it only recently bought for £6m.

Brent Council is selling off 23 new shared ownership homes it bought at the Grand Union development in Alperton for an estimated £6m in October of last year because it doesn’t have the expertise to manage them. Alperton’s ward councillor, Anton Georgiou, has questioned whether the properties are being sold completely or transferred to the council’s housing stock.

But at a cabinet meeting on July 17 when he asked for further clarification on this, as well as querying whether or not the 23 units counted towards the local authority’s council homes programme, he was told he had no right to get an answer there and then.

He also wanted to know how much money the council would either make or lose from the sell-off and whether the rest of the council’s shared ownership portfolio would meet the same fate. Instead of answering the questions, the council’s leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, hit out at him for not sending them to him in advance. He said: “This is not a two-way conversation. You’ve asked your question, you’ve addressed the cabinet. If you send the questions in by email, you will get an appropriate response.”

Cllr Georgiou was told he had “been given the courtesy” to address the cabinet, however, he pointed out that it is “his right” to do so as an elected member of the council. He added: “There’s no point in having external speakers if the questions we are asking are not answered by the cabinet.”

An agitated Cllr Butt responded: “I’ve given you the courtesy to address the cabinet, you are now being quite rude and disturbing the meeting.”

Heated exchange takes place over housing scheme in Brent Harrow Online

The plans to sell off the 23 shared ownership homes were approved later in the meeting. They made up part of a larger purchase of 115 properties at the development – the remaining 92 of which were for affordable rent.

Cabinet member for housing, homelessness and renters security, Cllr Promise Knight, said: “Our priority is and has remained to deliver council homes for rent throughout the programme. Releasing these properties to another provider reflects our understanding that there are people in Brent that still need shared ownership homes.”

She added: “It is important to note that each site is different and any decisions taken are based on the current market conditions. Any surplus [funds] generated from the release goes back to us delivering affordable homes for residents and crucially reducing our waiting list.”

Cllr Georgiou suggested that shared ownership is “not an affordable housing model” and won’t help to reduce the borough’s waiting list – which he said, “ought to be the council’s number one housing priority”.

He added: “This council is often vocal about its record on council house building, however, as I have argued we need to understand the full facts on what is actually being delivered and whether it is truly delivering council homes for council tenants at the levels stated in Brent Council press releases and on Brent Council communications.”