Thursday, 29 October 2009

Councillors must be given a say on PFI scheme

We have just finished a meeting of the Council's Communities Scrutiny Committee. One of the items for discussion was a response from Housing Cabinet Member Mark Kaczmarek to our concerns over the proposed Housing PFI scheme.

Housing PFI would have the potential to bring about 900 new council homes - about a third of our annual need - at a huge cost. Maybe not to the Council itself, but somebody has to pay at the end of the day.

Previously, we expressed concern at three levels:

- is the concept of Housing PFI right for Cornwall in principle?
- if so, do the figures in this case add up?
- if so, are the proposed sites the right ones?

At the previous inquiry day, Mark Kaczmarek promised that all councillors would be consulted and be able to have their say on the issue. Whilst the final decision is reserved by law for the Cabinet, councillors from all sides believe that they should be able to have their say in a vote on the issue. Independent Councillor Pam Lyne was particularly forceful in demanding this at a previous full council meeting - to no avail.

Now Cllr Kaczmarek has shied away from his promise - he claims he never made it. He is saying that all members will only be able to ask questions - not the same thing as voting.

For something potentially as big as this - around £150 million - surely it is right that all councillors are able to have a proper, voting, say on what happens?

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