Challenge date announced over Peterborough City Council's decision to use homes of evicted families for temporary accommodation

A date has been set for a challenge to Peterborough City Council's decision to use the homes of evicted families for temporary accommodation.

Friday, 7th October 2016, 2:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 7:32 pm
Richard Lee and his son Cody (2). Picture by Terry Harris. THA

Councillors on a scrutiny meeting will discuss the controversial issue on the evening of Wednesday, October 19 at the Town Hall in Bridge Street.

The council has already signed off a deal with a private firm which is evicting 74 households at St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell, with the council then able to use the properties to house homeless families.

However, a call-in over the decision was instigated by Cllr Julia Davidson and formally signed by her Liberal Democrat colleagues Cllr Nick Sandford and Cllr Darren Fower.

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If the call-in is upheld, either the scrutiny committee or the full council will make recommendations to Cllr David Seaton, the Conservative cabinet member who signed off the original deal.

Once he receives the recommendations he then has to decide whether to press through with the deal or pull out.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson is also holding a public meeting to discuss the evictions on Friday, October 14 at the Parnwell Community Centre in Saltersgate.

The meeting starts at 6.30pm.

The firm carrying out the evictions is Paul Simon Magic Homes, with the properties managed by Stef and Philips.

Peterborough City Council has agreed a three-year lease with Stef and Philips, with a break clause at the end of the second year, for St Michael’s Gate to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless families at a cost of £966,337 per year.

That will automatically proceed if the call-in is rejected by councillors.

Redevelopment of the estate will see the number of properties available to the council increase from 74 to 98.

Paul Simon Magic Homes and Stef and Philips both have the same director according to Companies House.

Setting out the reasons for the call-in, Cllr Fower wrote that the decision “does not follow the principles of good decision-making set out in Article 11 of the Council’s Constitution.”

The principles, he wrote, include: considering alternatives, taking account of all relevant matters, acting for a proper purpose and being responsible for the decision.

The council has suffered a big backlash to the deal which was forced by a large rise in homelessness in Peterborough, leading to a projected overspend of £1.4 million in 2016/17 due to people being put up in a Travelodge.

A petition against the evictions has now received more than 1,000 signatures, while councillors and Mr Jackson have spoken out against the deal.

The council insists that the families will be evicted regardless of it doing this deal, and that if it did not rent the properties as temporary accommodation then another authority would step in.

Paul Simon Magic Homes has previously refused to comment.