‘Time to close down Brick by Brick’ call by Croydon Tories

Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, reports on the reaction to the latest shambles and scandal to emerge from the council’s failing house-building company

Croydon Conservatives have today called for the Labour-run council to close down its loss-making in-house house-builder, Brick by Brick and “start building proper council houses again”.

“Brick By Brick is a disaster for the tax-payer and a disaster for the young families who urgently need the affordable properties it is not building,” Tim Pollard, the leader of the opposition Tory group at the Town Hall said, following the startling discovery that after five years, no one at Brick by Brick had bothered to register the company as an approved provider of shared ownership homes, as exclusively reported by Inside Croydon at the weekend.

Brick by Brick was formed in 2015, and has since been loaned at least £260million of public money while being sold land and property from the council at below market value. Six sites were sold for just £1 each.

Brick by Brick has so far completed three one-bed flats for social rent.

To meet its targets for supplying “affordable” homes, Brick by Brick intended to sell dozens of properties under shared ownership schemes. But last month they discovered that banks and lenders won’t provide mortgages on their properties because the company is is not a registered provider, forcing them to halt all its shared ownership sales.

It could take up to 12 months before that issue is resolved.

Tim Pollard: Tory politician calling for more council homes to be built

Croydon Council has so far failed to comment on the latest multi-million-pound balls-up by Brick by Brick, the company that oversaw a £11million overspend on the unfinished and incomplete Fairfield Halls refurbishment.

But Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, said of Brick by Brick’s shared ownership shambles, “This is another shocking piece of bungling by the council, and is such a basic failure it really underlines how the council is not competent to be engaging in commercial development.

“With ineptitude in this scale, it is likely that Brick by Brick will end up losing the taxpayer vast sums of money – adding insult to injury as the Council not only concretes over the borough but loses our own tax-payer money doing it.

“This latest shocker has Paul Scott’s fingerprints all over it.” Scott is the Labour council’s cabinet member for over-development, and the de facto chair of the planning committee, which has granted planning permission to every application submitted by Brick by Brick.

And Philp’s Tory Party colleague, Sanderstead councillor Pollard, said, “You really couldn’t make it up, could you?

“Here we have a council which over six years has built affordable rented properties at the staggering rate of one flat every two years, which now has shared ownership flats it can’t sell.

“Instead of building genuinely affordable council houses, it churns out premium-priced flats for sale which no first-time buyer could even dream of affording.

“Brick By Brick is a disaster for the taxpayer and a disaster for the young families who urgently need the affordable properties it is not building. It’s time to face facts: councils like ours should not be doing this sort of property speculation, because they’re terrible at it.

“It’s time to close down Brick By Brick and start building proper council houses again.”

More on this story…


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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4 Responses to ‘Time to close down Brick by Brick’ call by Croydon Tories

  1. Nick Davies says:

    Stand C15 at MIPIM is the place to be. “We are highlighting significant opportunities with the following Councils: Croydon Council (Brick by Brick (Croydon) Limited”, it says here.

    https://www.mipim.com/en/search-results/?epslanguage=en&kw=croydon#

    Doubtless all will be revealed.

  2. derekthrower says:

    Croydon Conservatives, if an effective opposition, should have been scrutinising and dealing with the technical issues regarding Brick by Brick from the start.
    On some matters it was effective in highlighting attempts at land grabs where covenants prevented any development, but on the whole all they have done is to make sporadic outbursts when cheap political capital can be gained.
    They have completely failed to act as an effective opposition party in Croydon. An effective opposition could have prevented this fiasco.

  3. Chris Flynn says:

    Honestly not a rhetorical question (I genuinely don’t know, as I’ve not lived in Croydon that long!) but what was the Tories track record at building ‘proper’ council houses? Inside Croydon reminds us of the Labour council’s poor record, but I don’t know how that compares.

    • Miserable, but still better than three is six years.
      Thing is, under the Tories, the council found another development vehicle, CCURV, which succeeded in transferring hundreds of millions of pounds of public money to private developers.
      Follow the money, as was once said.
      With feeble, third-rate politicos in the Town Hall, the colour of their rosette makes little difference. The council execs carry on doing exactly as they like. It’s not like it’s their money, is it?

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