Anger over claims about new homes in Covingham
A POLITICAL row has broken out over the wording on a leaflet which Labour councillors claim is demeaning and divisive to people living in Penhill.
The leaflet, circulated to homes in the area, stated: “In his first 18 months, the Labour councillor for Covingham and Dorcan wants to build hundreds of council houses every year – which could lead to a new ‘Penhill’ being built next to Covingham and Liden because the 8,000 houses to the east is the main area of future expansion.”
These comments refer to the Labour Group’s announcement that they plan to build 300 council homes a year to address the 50 per cent decline in new affordable homes being built in Swindon compared to 2009 levels.
However, the Labour Group has said they would not build these new homes exclusively in the Eastern Villages development referred to in the leaflet, or exclusively to any other new development.
Labour’s Covingham and Dorcan councillor, Julian Price, said: “The demeaning and divisive inference made by the Conservative Covingham and Dorcan councillors about Penhill is frankly shameful and they need to apologise to the people of Penhill over these comments.
“I think it’s one thing for them to attack me as a local councillor, however to derogate a whole community in doing so is wildly over-stepping the mark.
“It shouldn’t be the kind of politics we practice in Swindon and I don’t think it’s the kind of politics that befits the office of a local councillor.
“And even if it is now Conservative policy to attack communities with high numbers of social housing, suggesting that I want the Eastern Villages development to be predominantly full of social housing simply isn’t true.
“I want the Eastern Villages development to be a high quality development with a diverse mix of housing and good infrastructure in place.”
Coun Paul Baker, who represents Penhill, said he thought it was an absolute disgrace and called for a written apology.
Coun Heenan said: “The flagship policy of Swindon Labour is straight from the 1950s when Penhill was built, and you have to wonder when they will grow up, and be proud of their policies and their impact on local residents.
“Times have moved on but Labour’s written promise to build 300 council houses every year, using Liverpool and Inner London council estates as a template, is a very clear statement of their intent which everyone can understand. I thank them for publicly highlighting this issue.
“Sadly, Swindon Labour prefer to go on the offensive, and I guess we should be flattered that we are in their crosshairs.
“As very busy and effective local Conservative councillors for residents, Richard Hurley and I will continue to help residents as best we can, and speak up on issues Labour would prefer we didn’t highlight.”
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