Southend’s Conservative-controlled council has sold 2A Bournemouth Park Road for £224,000. On the same day it also sold 4 Cranley Avenue for £301,000
Labour councillors were disappointed that the Conservative Administration decided to sell these two properties, which have been used for decades as social housing.
These properties were family homes, one for more than 40 years and the other for over twenty years. The two properties were relinquished by their tenants, as in both cases one of the residents encountered ill health.
The council has used the technical argument that the properties are not part of the portfolio of South Essex Homes (SEH), yet both sets of residents had access to the full range of services from SEH over the period that the properties were managed by them. Previously, the properties were managed directly by the council, prior to transfer to SEH - an ‘Arms-length management organisation’ (ALMO) and, even further back, by Essex County Council.
Labour Councillor Anne Jones says: "It hardly matters to families deserving of housing which part of the council is responsible for particular properties. They just want a place to call home. The Conservatives have stated that the properties are in need of major repair, but this is not the case and is an insult to the families who resided there. Both properties, internally and externally, were meticulously maintained by the residents who took pride in their much loved homes."
The Conservatives describe these properties as 'not typical council houses', whatever that means and not 'not forming part of an estate', which further shows the lack of regard that they have for the people of this town. Such stereotypical views are most unwelcome and indicative of an administration out of touch with the people it serves.
The excuses that are given by the Conservatives do not hold up to scrutiny, as they continue to let similar properties at market rent from the same property portfolio, resulting in sustained income and the retention of family homes - much needed in the current housing crisis.
Cllr Jones further commented, "The revenue from these sales ( £525,000) will not be ploughed back into social housing (unlike receipts from Right To Buy). Instead, it will transfer to the Council's General Fund. It is interesting to note that the costs of plans for commemorating the rather arbitrary 125th anniversary of Southend as a borough are estimated at a similar figure."
Councillor Julian Ware-Lane very much agreed, saying, "I am sure other properties have also been sold in recent years. Bearing in mind the local housing crisis and the large housing waiting list, what does the selling of these properties say to those local people who still wait to be housed by this Council?"
"It really is very disappointing. The money raised is roughly equal to what is being spent on the 125 year anniversary of the Borough; I think a better way to celebrate would be the housing of, at the very least, two families by the local authority."