Lichfield Lib Dem councillor criticises decision to silence him over affordable housing

A Liberal Democrat councillor has accused the Conservatives of refusing to listen to concerns over the lack of affordable housing in Lichfield.

Paul Ray. Pic: Lewis Deakin

Cllr Paul Ray was prevented from discussing the development of the former Norgren site on Eastern Avenue at a meeting of Lichfield District Council last night (May 16).

Conservative councillors objected to the issue being raised, insisting the points should go through relevant planning and scrutiny committees, leading to new council chairman Cllr Mark Warfield to direct Cllr Ray to remain seated – and silent.

The Liberal Democrat representative for Chadsmead said: “I raised the serious issue of the lack of affordable housing in Lichfield and Burntwood at the meeting on Tuesday but was blocked by the Conservatives from discussing it further.

“They just don’t want to listen and change the way housing is delivered in our area.”

Cllr Ray has previously branded the record of affordable housing in Lichfield and Burntwood as “shameful” – and has also called for assurances that a large number of affordable properties are built as part of the Norgren site development.

He added: “Lichfield is a great place to live but it is crucial that we increase the amount of affordable housing in the district. What percentage is to apply to the residential element here?

“And the affordable housing must include not only the starter homes required under Conservative policy. Many people in particular young people will still not be able to afford these and so a large amount of rented social housing is essential.”

Cllr Alan White

Cllr Alan White

But Cllr Alan White, who was one of those to object to Cllr Ray’s decision to speak, said the Liberal Democrat representative had already had plenty of opportunities to speak up on the matter via the correct channels.

“I’m not trying to silence Paul,” the Conservative councillor said. “When the full council comes together it debates issues and receives reports from council committees that have debated key decisions that affect the people we represent.

“Paul was trying to re-run a debate that had already happened at the planning committee. If he felt strongly about the matter, then he should have attended the committee meeting where the decision was taken, rather than complaining afterwards.

“Cllr Ray and the Liberal Democrats seem to think that decisions made by the British people and those who represent them can be changed by carping from the sidelines. Cllr Ray should get involved and air his concerns when they can make a difference rather than when it’s too late.”

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6 Comments

  1. John Griffin

    17th May, 2017 at 8:31 am

    They do it again. This a massive issue as it has already been indicated that some allocations such as East Coulters Lane are 4/5 bed luxury to attract high earners when what is desperately needed is housing for young families.

  2. Toast

    17th May, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Tories don’t give a flying f**k about disabled people, young couples or those unfortunate enough not to have £80,000 a year job. “House them in Lichfield? MY Lichfield? Not on my watch.”

  3. Ken

    17th May, 2017 at 9:19 am

    By “the correct channels” I assume Alan White means meetings that don’t receive any meaningful public scrutiny, where remarks such as Cllr Ray’s are buried in minutes which never get read?

    How dare he raise the Tories’ pitiful record on affordable housing at such a public meeting! And in the presence of the local press! Doesn’t he realise the Tories are only interested in housing that will attract more Tory voters to Lichfield?

  4. 假名

    17th May, 2017 at 10:54 am

    It still baffles me that this is how they run the council. Win a majority and silence the other elected councillors. I may not agree with many councillors but I’d at least encourage more discussion in meetings.

    As for the issue of housing, it is becoming more & more of a blackhole issue. We all need affordable housing, but the grey-vote would never allow for the lower classes to move into Lichfield. Give it 10years and Lichfield will be filled with expensive, empty houses and overflowing graveyards

  5. Eric.N.Drinkwater

    17th May, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Cllr Ray needs to learn proper procedures and the chairman was quite right to tell him to be seated. He had been told twice he was out of order and refused to listen. I don’t readily agree with the Tories but on this occasion they were right.

  6. Alan White

    17th May, 2017 at 11:26 am

    It is simply not the case that we don’t consider affordable housing. The Local Plan sets out the council’s ambitions to deliver up to 40% affordable homes across the District. This is set out on page 55 of the Local Plan which can be found here:

    https://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/Council/Planning/The-local-plan-and-planning-policy/Resource-centre/Local-Plan-documents/Downloads/Local-Plan-Strategy/Lichfield-District-Local-Plan-Strategy-2008-2029.pdf

    The Local Plan was widely consulted upon: from recollection the council received thousands of responses to the document prior to a formal examination in public, and then adoption by the council.

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