Motion calls for community housing review in four villages

Stretham CLT housing minister visit 2018

Mayor James Palmer at Manor Farm, Stretham CLT in 2018 with then housing minister Kit Malthouse in 2018. He was accompanied by CLT chair Charles Roberts and the mayor's then political aide Tom Hunt, now MP for Ipswich. - Credit: Kit Malthouse

Opposition councillors believe that many East Cambridgeshire residents have lost confidence in Community Land Trusts (CLTs) - a lynchpin of the Conservative led council's housing policy.  

Cllr Simon Harries has proposed a motion, seconded by opposition Lib Dem leader Lorna Dupre, to be debated at Thursday’s full meeting of the district council.  

The motion upholds the principles of CLTs but says four schemes – at Wilburton, Stretham Kennett and most recently Little Thetford - have attracted growing criticism.  

Cllr Harries says that some decisions taken by CLTs are “widely seen as not appropriate in scale or location for the communities in question”, 

He questions whether parish councils are being unduly influenced by CLT trustees. 

He quotes as an example “the vote of no confidence in Wilburton and resignation en masse of councillors in Little Thetford”. 

Chief executive John Hill will tell the council he has been obliged to take urgent action to temporarily appoint parish councillors at Little Thetford. 

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This was necessary, he says, after five parish councillors resigned, leaving the council with only two remaining members inquorate.  

He said by appointing three temporary replacements – Bill Hunt, Charlotte Michell and Alison Kilby - the parish council could continue to function particularly in relation to payment of contractors until vacancies are filled.  

Cllr Harries wants East Cambs Council to carry out a review of the four CLTs.  

"This review should have a specific focus on the relationship between ECDC and the CLTs,” he says. 

This would ensure that “the involvement of CLTs as an integral part of council housing policy is seen as rational, safe and unambiguous, with an effective code of conduct in place”.  

He also wants public meetings in the four villages.  

In the meantime, he wants the council to promise to freeze all CLT project related financial commitments.  

Cllr Hunt, one of the temporary parish councillors, said it remained essential to support local people into affordable housing.  

"It is very important to keep our villages as sustainable communities and we don't need shops, garages, pubs, post offices closing down,” he said. 

“We want to assist local people living and working as close family units in family focused communities.”