I think your description of the Town Council Meeting last night (September 7) as “confused” is generous. It was totally shambolic. When it came to the vote on this issue it is unclear if half the council members knew what they were voting for.
Members who spoke against the proposals and “disassociated” themselves from the process didn’t vote, so the number of votes cast was not a true reflection of the position of the councillors present at the meeting. I believe this process was procedurally flawed and will be challenged.
The councils’ management of these properties, on behalf of the people of Marlborough, has been staggeringly incompetent. The Council have not kept to the terms of the tenancy agreement (annual rent reviews) or implemented some of the legal requirements required of private landlords.
They did not inform the tenants about these proposals and the tenants learnt about the proposed rent increases (up to 50%) through a video on You Tube. Now, as a quick fix, solution to their problems the council propose handing these properties over to the private sector to manage where any increase in rents will be offset by management fees, commission and profit.
This issue has only been discussed by the full council since July 2015. There has been no public consultation and little time over the summer for Marlborough residents to become aware of these proposals. Clearly the council has to sort out the management of these properties, but to do so quickly, with no public consultation and without consideration of other options is surely a dereliction of their duties as representatives of the people of Marlborough.
There is an enormous need for social housing in our town and although the properties owned by the council are few in number they could make a contribution to affordable housing in Marlborough.
One would expect a public body, such as a town council, to explore alternative solutions to managing these properties and to produce a full report to council outlining the costs and benefits of different options. These options could include registering these properties as social housing or designating these homes as “affordable housing” with the Communities Agency scheme, but the only option on the table for them to discuss, and to vote on, was a “wash your hands quick” one.
Vice Chair Devizes Constituency Labour Party