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