The Newbury Weekly News reports again today that the scandal of homes designated for social housing tenants lying empty at the Parkway development continues to go on without resolution in sight.
This whole situation is a debacle from start to finish.
First, West Berkshire Council (and thus council tax payers) were robbed of £900,000 when the developer, Standard Life Investments, persuaded the Tory-run Council that they couldn't possibly afford to go ahead with the whole development if they had to meet their obligations to build these social homes without subsidy.
Second, its quite clear to me that developer has taken the decision to delay the assigning of a housing association partner to rent out these flats because they feared that having them occupied would affect their ability to sell the private flats. They have essentially assumed their potential customers are snobs and in doing so prevented 37 families from leaving the social housing waiting list and taking up residence in the flats that are designated for their use.
What makes the whole thing inexplicable is that a year ago West Berks Council, quite rightly, blocked them from selling private flats until a housing association partner was sourced. Why this hasn't prompted them into action I don't know.
Social housing tenants are not a second-class of citizen, they are simply families on low-to-middle incomes who can't afford market rates of rent. These can be newly-qualified teachers, trainee nurses and apprentices in all sorts of trades. It's desperately important that we build more social housing to clear the waiting list but its even more outrageous that there are 37 homes already built and waiting to be occupied.
I sincerely back West Berks Council in taking any action against the developers but frankly these are obscene delays and I would urge that they immediately try to involve the Secretary of State for Local Government & Communities in the matter.