It is predictable that the Taxpayer's Alliance has described it as “obscene” – their vocabulary only extends to outrage and fury – but it might be worth looking at the facts of this “empty £1.2 million Council house”.
- In central London housing remains expensive. We have a full housing list, few family homes available and a legal responsibility to house those in the greatest need. What is the point of selling this house to buy another? Where in my part of London is there cheap family housing?
- Some people think that we should sell the house because it is in a “smart” part of Chelsea. Well it wasn't smart when the Council got hold of this house for peanuts years ago. Is the suggestion that Council tenants should only live in ghetto-like estates? We have long believed in mixed communities and would like to redevelop monolith Council and housing association estates into successful mixed communities like the rest of the borough. What we have been doing successfully for generations, others are only now discovering.
- The reason the home is empty is because we evicted the previous occupier who was not entitled to a family house at taxpayer's expense. We offered him a flat near Kings Road which he refused and then moved in others to pretend the house was fully occupied. We fought the case through to the Court of Appeal and won. The house is boarded up because of the condition it was left in. But soon repairs will be done and a family that really needs a home will be moved in.
- We are doing exactly what any well-run Conservative-run Council should be doing: making sure public subsidy is not abused, trying to support mixed communities and not social ghettos and helping families stay together.
I am always willing to say when we have clearly got something wrong but in this case we have not. Is the TPA ever capable of doing the same?