There was another briefing this morning on the proposed Affordable Housing PFI bid. Many members had significant concerns and wanted the Full Council to be able to make the final decision. The only concession made by Housing Cabinet Member Mark Kaczmarek was to hold a meeting where he said all councillors would be able to have their say and ask any questions they wanted.
That meeting was today and a large number of members turned up and wanted to ask many questions. All was going well until Cllr Kaczmarek walked out of his own meeting saying that we had had enough time to ask the questions we wanted. Those of us who still had concerns were able to spend a profitable further chunk of time getting answers from the officers.
To make it clear - the cabinet member who said that he wanted everyone to be able to ask all the questions they wanted and detail their concerns was not even prepared to stay around to hear those questions and concerns.
The key problems raised by those present included:
- what happens if the PFI company or the contractor goes bust?
- what is the wider strategy for affordable housing in the County given that this scheme will only provide 7% of out affordable housing need each year for four years?
- will these houses have decent local facilities including open spaces and play areas?
- will the scheme guarantee work for Cornish firms as Cllr Kaczmarek said?
- can we guarantee that the houses that are being built for sale will not be bought as second homes?
and many others.
It's fair to say that the officers present did a great job of answering the questions and were able to assuage our concerns on some matters. But there are still many worries about this scheme and I know that Cllr Kaczmarek, had he stayed around to listen, would have come to no other conclusion than that there are still many councillors unhappy that the Council is going down this route.