'Living in a council house is like winning a sizeable lottery win' says Conservative councillor (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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'Living in a council house is like winning a sizeable lottery win' says St Albans councillor, Nat Young
A St Albans Conservative councillor compared living in a council house to "winning a sizeable lottery win" as tempers flared at a council meeting last night to discuss amendments of tenancy strategies.
A war of words broke out in the chambers between all three political parties, as the council debated conservative proposals to amend a motion to introduce a five year tenancy strategy to be drafted by Monday (January 14).
The "flexible" tenancy agreement would mean the situation of a family/person living in social housing would be reviewed every five years, instead of the life-long tenancy strategy that is currently in place.
Conservative backbencher, Councillor Nat Young said the amended strategy would cater to "genuine" vulnerable people who may be homeless, while people that no longer need the help of social housing may still be "wrongly" occupied.
The chamber erupted from opposition parties when the Verulam representative added: "Having a council house is almost like winning a sizeable lottery win."
Labour representative, Councillor Malachy Pakenham mocked his comment and blasted it as "nasty" while the town’s Mayor, Eileen Harris, repeatedly told the councillors to "calm down" and "respect the chambers".
Tory Councillor, Salih Gaygusuz added it was "morally wrong that people are living in social housing earning £100,000 a year and driving around in good cars" while genuine, vulnerable people were struggling to be housed.
Labour and Liberal-Democrat councillors stood in unison against proposed amendments to the tenancy strategy arguing it would create "fragmented communities" and "unintended consequences for vulnerable families", such as being left without a home.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Aislinn Lee, asked Tory councillors to avoid using "a sledgehammer" and take more time to review their tenancy strategy, while Liberal-Democrat Councillor Robert Donald, urged them to avoid making a fast and loose decision and "not to play around with people’s lives".
"We are here to improve security, not dilute it. We need to provide cohesive housing and so far we have currently introduced 31 new homes and plans for 31 new homes.
"This is not good enough. We cannot blame people in need because they are not moving out fast enough", Labour Councillor Roma Mills added.
Opposition managed to override and the amendment was carried 29 votes to 27 votes. The cabinet’s council will discuss the matter further on Monday.