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Parties row over Redbridge Council grant for sheltered homes in Ilford

16:03 22 September 2016

Leader of the Tories Cllr Paul Canal, left, and leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal, right..

Leader of the Tories Cllr Paul Canal, left, and leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal, right..

Archant

A war of words has erupted between the borough’s two main parties over a contentious grant for a housing project to help dementia sufferers.

The argument led to Tory councillors walking out of the full council meeting on Thursday, while Labour members accused their rivals of “misleading information”.

The conflict centres around a Greater London Authority (GLA) grant for £2.5million, awarded to Redbridge Council in 2013 to build a sheltered housing complex at Hyleford Hostel, in Loxford Lane, Ilford.

Three years later, work has not started.

Conservative deputy leader Michelle Dunn claimed at a neighbourhoods service committee earlier this month that a council officer had admitted the grant had been lost.

Conservative leader Cllr Paul Canal entered a motion for Thursday’s meeting “apologising” for losing the money, but this was quickly withdrawn after Labour stated it still had the funding.

As the contentious meeting got underway at Redbridge Town Hall, the Labour group suspended standing orders due to the row, and following this Conservative councillors walked out.

Cllr Canal had previously told the chamber: “We have too much respect for our borough, our residents, our constitution and your office to take part in a sham of this nature.”

The council leader responded: “It’s misleading and inaccurate information. Spread mischief for 11 days and I am considering reporting it.”

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Ian Bond criticised Cllr Athwal’s actions and said to him: “You should be ashamed of yourself. Not a proud night for your administration.”

After the meeting, Cllr Athwal admitted the grant had almost run out, but he had managed to extend it with the GLA.

He told the Recorder: “As soon as we got close to the date we spoke to the GLA.

“We have new milestones, work will start in 2018 and completion is set for 2021. I have got absolute reassurances.”

Cllr Athwal added that the Hyleford sheltered housing complex would be “more comprehensive than previously envisioned”.

The Conservative group has written to the chief executive asking for a clarification on the situation with the grant and the building work.

Cllr Canal commented: “Our understanding is that there have been three failed attempts to procure construction and they have failed to keep members updated.

“The scandal of this is that elderly people should be living there right now.”

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