Lib Dems slam council over Heygate 'secret papers' ruling
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Development, Legal
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Liberal Democrats have slammed Southwark Council for being “on the side of developers rather than residents” after a judge ruled that secret papers about the Heygate regeneration deal must be made public.
The ruling follows a long dispute about the publication of the ‘viability’ report relating to the deal, which the council has so far refused to publish.
Last week, a judge ruled that local people must have access to information that includes details of the planned sale of new Heygate homes to private purchasers and to social housing providers.
The ruling follows previous orders that the papers must be disclosed, with the council now obliged to supply the information within 28 days unless it appeals.
The council has said that it is currently considering “next steps”. In November last year, it admitted budgeting almost £70,000 to appeal the case and try to keep the details secret.
Southwark Liberal Democrats have previously argued that the report should be released immediately. They have also hit out at the council for spending public money trying to keep it under wraps.
Back in November, Southwark Council said it had budgeted almost £70,000 to appeal the case and try to keep the details secret.
Cllr Adele Morris, Lib Dem deputy leader and shadow cabinet member for regeneration, jobs and affordable homes, said: “Residents wanted to see for themselves why they weren't getting a better deal at the Elephant, so it is good news that the judge has ordered much of the financial information from the Lend Lease / Heygate deal to be published.
“It's a real shame the council has chosen to spend tens of thousands of pounds of public money trying to protect the commercial interests of developers, and shows the Labour leaders in Southwark to be firmly on the side of developers rather than residents.”
Local Liberal Democrat MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark Simon Hughes said: “The stubborn and arrogant refusal by Labour to release information which is clearly in the public interest demonstrates how out of touch Labour has become.
“Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors and I have consistently called for far greater openness in how Southwark Council does business with property developers.
"I am therefore delighted to see that vital information and many of the real facts and figures which are behind the Heygate estate development must now be released – something that should have happened many months ago. We need to know why Southwark’s Labour councillors have not won a better deal for Southwark residents wanting more affordable homes.
“This decision should mark the end of the secret affair between Labour-run Southwark Council and rich property developers. It is now time to put community interest above commercial interest, and get a fair deal on housing for local residents not plum deals for big property developers.”