Home­less deAl wAs given ‘the hurry up’

PT CAM­PAIGN: emails show St Michael’s Gate deal was rushed through

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy 01733 588728

The con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to move home­less peo­ple into the St Michael’s Gate es­tate where the res­i­dents are be­ing evicted was rushed through after Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil warned that the deal could col­lapse. Se­nior coun­cil­lor John Peach agreed that the coun­cil could speed up a deal with Stef & Philips after he was told that the hous­ing firm would “walk away” from a multi-mil­lion pound con­tract.

An email from coun­cil di­rec­to­rof­gov­er­nanceKimSawyer­toCll­rPeach, Con­ser­va­tive mem­ber­forParkWard, states thatwith­outa­gree­ingthedeal, Stef & Philips would “walk away from the lease pro­pos­als.”

The deal was for the coun­cil to spend nearly £3 mil­lion over three years to lease prop­er­ties at St Michael’s Gate in Parn­well where74peo­ple and their fam­i­lies are be­ing evicted.

The homes will all be used astem­po­rary­ac­com­mo­da­tion for the home­less.

Cllr Peach, as chair of the Sus­tain­able Growth and En­vi­ron­ment Cap­i­tal Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee, was asked by the coun­cil on Septem­ber 27 to grant it per­mis­sion to in­voke ‘ur­gency’and‘spe­cialur­gency’ on the deal.

Ur­gency meant that the deal was not in­cluded on the coun­cil’s for­ward plan for 28 days in ad­vance of the de­ci­sion.

Spe­cial Ur­gency meant that the deal did not have to be made pub­lic un­til the day it was signed. Nor­mally it is made pub­lic five days be­fore.

Asked if spe­cial ur­gency was in­voked to re­duce scru­tiny on the de­ci­sion, both Cllr PeachandMsSawyerin­sisted that this was not the case.

Cllr Peach said there was “am­ple op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss and scru­ti­nise,” and that “it’s not un­usual to get these re­quests for what­ever rea­son that the coun­cil has to move a lit­tle bit faster on things.”

Mrs Sawyer said in­vok­ing spe­cial ur­gency “did not pre­vent scru­tiny from call­ing-in the de­ci­sion or from scru­tiny con­sid­er­ing the mat­ter.”

The coun­cil has al­ways in­sisted that if it did not do a deal with Stef & Philips, a Lon­don bor­ough would move its home­less peo­ple into St Michael’s Gate in­stead.

The dis­clo­sure about spe­cial ur­gency comes in a sec­ond tranche of emails the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph has re­ceived from the coun­cil after putting in a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest about in­ter­nal cor­re­spon­dence on St Michael’s Gate.

The emails were redacted in a pre­vi­ous FOI re­quest.

The new emails also in­clude someredac­tions for “le­gal cor­re­spon­dence be­tween thePeter­bor­oughCi­tyCoun­cil le­gal tea­man­dle­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the client re­gard­ing the lease ar­range­ments.”

Cllr John Peach (left) and (above) Posh owner Dar­ragh MacAn­thony sup­port­ing the PT’s cam­paign and (right) res­i­dents in St Michael’s Gate.

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