20 Feb 2024
Cllr Katie Porrer

Liberal Democrat councillors in Cambridge have been astonished to hear of a major U-turn from the controlling Labour administration when they announced acceptance of the Lib Dem proposals they had rejected only three weeks earlier.

Amid scenes of confusion at last Thursday’s full council meeting, Labour announced that the council’s housing budget would after all now include a new Housing Maintenance Improvement Officer post, two service improvement officers and flexible working arrangements to enable tenants in employment to book repairs outside standard Monday to Friday hours.  

These have been goals argued for by Lib Dem councillors over two years, with them being voted down every time by their Labour counterparts.  The Lib Dems have been consistently critical of the council’s performance in maintaining existing council homes, accusing Labour of focussing primarily on new ones, leaving inadequate resources to deal with planned repairs, damp, mould and condensation complaints and compliance in older properties.   However, there is no extra money for these posts and the funding will instead be taken from the transformation budget and existing funds, leaving other projects short.

Cllr Katie Porrer, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Housing commented:

"I could not believe my ears when I heard these changes being announced, with no prior warning.  Just three weeks ago, the Labour ruling group had refused our budget amendment.  We certainly hope this is good news. But because they rejected the provision of the proper budget that we proposed, they are having to raid all sorts of funds meant for other purposes. This has all been done behind the scenes, so we have little idea which other parts of the housing service could now suffer. We will hold our breath but are acutely aware they are still budgeting £225,000 to cover claims from tenants over the disrepair of their properties, which hardly fills us with confidence. This is not how to run an efficient and effective Housing budget for tenants across the city.