Homeless deAl wAs given ‘the hurry up’
PT CAMPAIGN: emails show St Michael’s Gate deal was rushed through
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.