Monday, 20 December 2010

Woodnook: More Council broken promises

Back in 2003 The Council were told they would receive almost £10million every year to regenerate 9 areas including Woodnook, Peel, Spring Hill, Church.

None of these have received a penny up to last year.

Back in 2003 Woodnook councillors were on show with fancy plans of new houses and tree lined streets with a display of dazzling displays of new plans presented to residents on Sandy Lane at Accrington College.

Since then: nothing but empty and broken promises. No fight. No lobbying. Just approval for every penny to spent (and some schemes involved huge waste) in one area; Blackburn Road. That area could have seen more generation for less money had the money been spent wisely.

It is not the officers who are to blame. It is the Councillors who have voted to waste £millions. I note cabinet member Peter Clarke's letter dated the 6th December 2010 to Councillor Wendy Dwyer which states
"despite a significant cut
in our funding (all funding has been cut), we will still proceed with the masterplan albeit at a much slower pace (laughable)" and
"the emphaiss on the (Regional Growth) fund is creating new jobs and funding if secured, will be significantly less than housing market renewal."
Broken promises to Woodnook;
- Guaranteed investment of tens of £millions,
- Development plans as early as 2004,
- Personal promises claiming 'pressure on the Council leadership
- Guarantee that it will all start in 2010 and Woodnook would get around £30million

False claims;
- Claims of involvement in HomeFront Lottery scheme
- Totally false claims of Government interference
- Claims that The Council had been told to do just one area at once (when ELEVATE colleagues Pendle, Burnley, Blackburn are doing 3 at once)

Today we see Woodnook councillors issuing future broken promises in a Council leaflet;
1. The Council remains committed to completing phase 1 of the Woodnook masterplan within existing resources.
Phase 1 requires £30million to be completed. This Conservative Government has cancelled that £30million. There is no money and Phase 1 will never mind be completed, very little will happen. See question 7. 
2. We will buy and demolish four terraced blocks 2 - 24 Booth St, 53 - 85, Boyds St, 54 - 86 Royds St, 1 - 33 Augusta St.
Using the £1.5million of the last £7.7million given the Council. Has the Council spoken with the opposition who look likely to take over in May?

3. We will treat and protect the resulting cleared site with well planned environmental works
When was this ever consulted on and is this the best use of resources. See question 7.

4. We will acquire in full 2 - 32 Augusta St, refurbish and bring it back into use for affordable housing
Owned by whom? Has the Council discussed what residents want? Has the Council spoken with the opposition who look likely to take over in May or are residents to be let down again?

5. We will face lift adjacent terraces i.e Clement and Hudson St
6. We will also seek further funding to proceed with the Woodnook masterplan including bids from the new Regional Growth fund, the New Home Bonus and Empty Property funding from the Homes and Communities Agency
Regional Growth Fund does not allow for housing regeneration bids. The New Homes Bonus is nothing to do with Woodnook AND in the first few years will raise very little money. Any demolitions will reduce that income stream too. The Empty Property Fund is £100m for the whole of the UK and for Registered Social Landlords only.
7. Discussions have already started with partners from the private sector and Housing Associations to bring in additional resources.
No discussions have taken place between the Council and a major private sector investor. That has happened via myself last Friday. The truth is this sort of investment is a million miles away and should not be part of any promise.  

Notably however, should they invest, they do not like The Council’s master plan and would redraw it throwing doubt over just what the Council itself is proposing.
Housing Associations are stretched having had their income cut.
Below is the letter the Council wrote to residents regarding acquisitions and demolitions in the area.