Council defends itself over claims it is sitting on milions of pounds worth of unused housing cash

UTTLESFORD District Council is sitting on millions of pounds worth of unused cash given to it for affordable housing.

The claim came during BBC 1’s Inside Out earlier this week.

The prime time programme claims that the council received a �2.7million windfall as part of a planning gain agreement with Stansted Airport back in 2004 which, seven years on, still hasn’t been spent.

It was followed by an attack from Uttlesford’s Lib Dems, who accused the administration of hoarding money intended to help young people.

One representative, who has campaigned for the release of the funds, is the group’s deputy leader Cllr David Morson. He said: “During the last seven years the Conservative leadership has been drumming its fingers while local young people have been forced out of the district because there is nowhere for them to live.

“It is socially unjust and completely unnecessary, but typical of a council whose planning policy is in complete disarray and whose leadership is disinterested in the growing problem of hidden homelessness in Uttlesford.”

However, cabinet member for housing, Conservative councillor Julie Redfern, described the Lib Dem’s claims as “utterly preposterous”.

Most Read

“The simple fact is that affordable homes are being delivered wherever possible, partly through the Stansted Area Housing Partnership (SAHP) – which I should point out was set up when the Liberal Democrats were in control of the council,” she explained.

“The Lib Dems don’t seem to mention that they did not spend any of the Section 106 money between 2003 and 2007 when they were in control.”

Referring to the BBC programme, a district council spokesman hit back at the claims, saying it was a “complicated subject” which, in the view of officers, had not been explained particularly well.

“To put it simply the reason the money has not yet been spent is because we have been successful in bidding for funding for affordable housing from other sources,” he said, adding that the SAHP has delivered more than 350 affordable homes since 2005.

“The key issue that affects the building of affordable homes is not the availability of money, but the availability of suitable land.”