Tenants hope review will be lifeline to staying put

Chris Havergal, Cambridge News, 22 November 2012

COUNCIL house tenants facing eviction under a Cambridge-wide redevelopment programme are hoping a review could signal a U-turn.

Decisions to move residents out of 24 properties in Water Lane, East Chesterton, and 24 in Aylesborough Close, Arbury, will be reconsidered by councillors amid claims equalities rules may not have been properly followed.

Many residents, particularly in Water Lane, are elderly or vulnerable, and Labour councillors said lack of consultation meant the schemes were at risk of being overturned by a judicial review.

The city council wants to redevelop the sites to provide larger, more modern properties, but there are fears about the impact on tenants' wellbeing.

In a letter to Labour housing spokesm an Cllr Kevin Price, council chief executive Antoinette Jackson said equalities assessments had been carried out, as had assessments of individual tenants, but she thought it would be an improvement if the impact of the Aylesborough Close and Water Lane schemes had been considered more fully prior to the decision.

She said these new assessments would be presented to councillors in a report which would consider "whether the decision to go ahead with these schemes remains sound".

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of the Labour group, said the programme had been a "disaster for tenants and leaseholders".

He said: "There are serious questions here that the council has been totally unable to answer and several of the largest demolition plans are clearly defective.

"The council now needs to urgently develop new schemes so it can deliver badly-needed extra housing for rent, and replace any of the current schemes shown to be non-starters."

Cllr Catherine Smart, the executive councillor for housing, said procedures could be improved - but not necessarily to the extent that previous decisions were invalid.

She said: "We are carrying on unless something comes up which makes us think we shouldn't, and it hasn't done yet."

The council, which was already undertaking a review prior to Labour's request, says tenants cannot be given a veto over the programme and has pledged to provide suitable new homes for everyone evicted.


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