LAnd­lords ‘rent loss’ bid to get more cAsh

PT In­ves­ti­ga­tion: St Michael’s Gate emails re­veal coun­cil deal wran­gle

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

Peterborough tax­pay­ers were asked to give com­pen­sa­tion through “the pub­lic purse” to the hous­ing firm which is evict­ing dozens of res­i­dents from a sin­gle es­tate. New Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion emails un­cov­ered by the Peterborough Tele­graph show a di­rec­toratStef& Philip­sasked Peterborough City Coun­cil for money due to “an un­ex­pected loss of rent” on­four prop­er­ties in St Michael’s Gate, Parn­well.

The coun­cil is cur­rently pay­ing Stef & Philips nearly £3 mil­lion over three years to use the va­cant prop­er­ties, where 74 ten­ants and their fam­i­lies are be­ing evicted, as tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion for home­less peo­ple.

The FOI emails show the coun­cil was asked on more than one oc­ca­sion to in­crease the amount it pays Stef & Philips. One email on Septem­ber 15 from a di­rec­tor at the firm says it has seen an “un­ex­pected loss” on four prop­er­ties at St Michael’s Gate since Au­gust 1.

He says that he fully ap­pre­ci­ates the coun­cil’ s re­serv ation“r egard­ing com­pen­sa­tion from the pub­lic purse.”

But he adds that he wants the mat­ter to be brought up at their next meet­ing.

In an­other email dated Oc­to­ber 24, nearly a mon­thafter a deal be­tween the two par­ties wasagreed, hesaysth atrec ent events had stopped the coun­cil from tak­ing up use of the prop­er­ties, lead­ing to a “rental loss of £25,000” for Stef & Philips.

The “re­cent events” are thought to re­fer to a call-in (chal­lenge) of the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to agree the con­tract with the com­pany.

On this oc­ca­sion the di­rec­tor says: “We are cer­tainly not look­ing for any com­pen­sa­tion,” but he added: “A re­vi­sion of pay­ment terms in this con­text is what I would like to dis­cuss.”

An­other email the fol­low­ing day then asks the coun­cil to in­crease the money it pays to Stef & Philips due to it leasin gfewer pro per­ti­esthanfir st ex­pected at St Michael’ s Gate.

Two days later, an­other email reads: “Given the de­lay and also the fact that prop­er­ties will be made avail­able to Peterborough City Coun­cil in tranches, it is quite clear that PCCwill not be spend­ing any- where­n­ear£[email redacted] even on the re­vised rates.

“Given this sce­nario, I would be grate­ful if you could kindly re­con­sider PCC’s po­si­tion in this re­gard.”

Oliver Hay­ward, coun­cil as­sis­tant di­rec­tor: peo­ple comm issi oninga nd­com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions, replied: “Any price in­crease will need to go back through the process as it is treated as a new de­ci­sion, and given the in­ter­est around this mat­ter there is no guar­an­tee that the de­ci­sion will be given.

“I would re­quest that we hold prices as we pre­vi­ously agreed.”

Alth ough74­tenan ts are­be­ing evicted, Stef & Philips is reno vatin gma ny ofth ehomes – in­clud­ing turn­ing someinto hous­esof­mul tipl eocc up­a­tion – toin­crease t henumb er­a­vai lable to the coun­cil.

The num­ber of prop­er­ties was due to in­crease to 98, but b ecausethi swaslat erre­duc ed to 88t h ecoun cilin cr easedthe amount it pays per bed­room by roughly 16p per night.

A coun­cil spokes­woman said: “Whilst a slight in­crease, the rate paid re­flects good value and is far less than the con­tin­ued use of ho­tel acco mmod ationt ohelptho sein need in the city.”

The spokes­woman was re­fer­ring to a Peterborough Tele­graph story in Septem­ber last year which re­vealed th atthec oun­cil­was bud­get­ing for a £1.2 mil­lion over­spend af­terp ut­tinghom eless peo­ple in city Trav­elodges.

No­bodyfromStef& Philips was avail­able for com­ment.

The Peterborough Tele­graph has cam­paigned on be­half of res­i­dents of St Michael’s Gate fac­ing evic­tion fol­low­ing the Stef&Philips prop­erty deal with th ecity coun­cil

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