Spending up on Chelmsford's homelessness crisis; Lib Dem action plan rejected

February 22, 2018 4:48 PM
Stephen 2013

Stephen Robinson

Chelmsford Council will spend an extra £808,000 in the coming year dealing with homelessness and related housing issues, taking the total housing budget to £4.8 million. However, the Council's Conservative majority rejected a proposal on Wednesday night from the Liberal Democrat opposition to take extra action on the issue.

In his alternative budget proposals, Lib Dem Leader Cllr Stephen Robinson called on the council to stick to their pledge for 18 additional modular homes and indeed go further. This pledge was made last July, when they voted to back the Lib Dem housing motion.

Cllr Robinson said, "Chelmsford is funding 15-20 families in unacceptable bed & breakfast accommodation, over 140 in nightly lets and a total of nearly 350 homeless families. With such low interest rates, the Council could borrow cheaply to invest in housing and would SAVE expenditure on housing benefit."

The Lib Dem Leader's other budget proposals would have delivered more infrastructure and protected the environment through reduced pollution.

The Liberal Democrats proposed:

# Additional affordable housing (because the Conservatives have missed the target in all bar one of the last 15 years - meaning Chelmsford has 828 fewer affordable homes)

# A third Park & Ride

# Extra local highway projects

# A green investment fund to support projects such as electric car charging points, car clubs and secure cycle facilities.

Said Cllr Robinson, "We should not tolerate putting homeless families in bed & breakfast. That's no way for children to grow up. We also need to address public concerns on air pollution and congestion."

Cllr Robinson also pointed out that Council Tax will rise by more than inflation and much more than any pay rise received by taxpayers, "It is an unfair tax, that hits low earners but with little impact on the wealthy."

The proposals would have been paid for from spare cash sitting in council bank accounts.

On a separate item, the Conservative Leader opposed the Lib Dem call for the council to not only subsidise staff car parks but also staff use of the Park & Ride.

Further information

1. Papers for the budget meeting on 21 February are Item 6.2 on this page
https://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/ your-council/committees-and-me etings/calendar-of-meetings/? id=570bda5d-990f-4c18-9e6a-236 2445a6cc3

Housing budget is on page 22.

2. July Council including Lib Dem motion on housing
https://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/ your-council/committees-and-me etings/calendar-of-meetings/? id=e9ec6654-928f-4c45-b477-adb 5ac3f7b1f

3. Chelmsford Council's tax rise is 3%; Essex County's rise is 5%; the Police rise is 7% and the Fire increase 2%.