Croydon Council does not know how many homes Brick by Brick has completed or sold.
The response, in many aspects, goes to underline quite how incompetent the council’s housing “strategy” and how badly managed the Brick by Brick experiment has become.
Brick by Brick, in case you did not know, is wholly owned by… Croydon Council.
Since Brick by Brick was formed in 2015, Croydon Council has handed the company at least £260million of public funds to build what appears to be an unknown number of properties.
The council has also sold off public properties – buildings and land, including kids’ playgrounds and green spaces – at huge discounts to assist Brick by Brick’s bottom line. This includes six sites which, according to the council’s own valuer’s reports, were sold for just £1 each.
Yet no one at the council knows how many housing units were completed in 2019, nor how many were sold or reserved.
The council’s FoI response – a sort of Croydon version of David Walliams’ “Computer say no” sketches – came barely a month after Colm Lacey told a council scrutiny committee that he did not know how many homes the company had managed to sell.
Lacey just happens to be Brick by Brick’s chief executive.
According to Lacey, Brick by Brick might have sold five houses. Or it could be six, Lacey, a former council employee, told the committee of elected councillors as he demonstrated yet again how out of his depth he is as the managing director of a development company.
For the record, the Freedom of Information request asked: “Please advise, for the developments listed in the 2019-20 Brick By Brick Business Plan (Section 5 – Planned Programme Activity), the number of units for which Practical Completion certificates were issued on or before 31st December 2019. In respect of the units completed, please state how many were, at 31st December 2019, reserved under deposit and in respect of how many at 31st December 2019 had sales been legally completed.”
The council is supposed to respond to all FoI requests within 20 working days of receiving them. They often fail to meet this legal requirement.
In this instance, it took them more than twice the allowed time period to draft this response: “The council do [sic] not hold this information. You would need to contact Brick by Brick directly for this.”
Which is probably not much reassurance for Croydon Council Tax-payers that their local authority, whether through the cabinet member for housing, Alison Butler, or her husband, planning “expert” Paul Scott, or even the council leader, Tony Newman, are keeping a tight rein on the finances and performance of its wholly-owned, loss-making house-builder.
More on this subject:
- A level of ineptitude which would be tolerated nowhere else
- Bogus consultation in Upper Norwood shows priorities are wrong
- Butler: We’ll let Brick by Brick build on all under-utilised spaces
- Kakistocracy: Butler forced into £6m bail-out of Brick by Brick
- Massive discounts on land sales raise more questions
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