At this week’s meeting of the Executive, Cllr Ian George announced that as Kingston Conservatives’ Lead Member for Housing, he will be quitting the Council’s Cross Party Member Group on Housing Investment Options.
Cllr George made the shock announcement following the Executive members’ public criticism of the Tory’s recent behaviour. The Council Leader had condemned his leakage of the Housing Group’s reports to the press before their agreed publication dates, as well as comments which mislead residents on the reality of housing finance.
The Council’s Executive Member for Housing, the Liberal Democrat Penny Shelton said: “Cllr George’s decision to abandon the Housing Group is an utter disgrace. Despite his recent irresponsible behaviour, this Council wanted cross-party co-operation to get the best deal for Kingston’s social housing tenants.”
Following the Housing Minister’s recent announcement that central Government intends to ‘dismantle’ the current system of council housing finance, the Housing Investment Options group was preparing to respond to consultations on its proposed replacement.
She added: “Cllr George’s childish decision to abandon the Group means that he is letting down council tenants at the very time they need us the most.”
Defending his decision, the Conservative Member made complaints that the working group was not ‘doing enough’ to convince council tenants to sell their homes in stock transfer.
Cllr Shelton reacted: “Cllr George’s behaviour is an insult to tenants who don’t want to be bullied into stock transfer. Tenants living in Kingston’s council properties have made it perfectly clear that they want the Council to remain as their Landlord for the time being.
“Cllr George is saying that regardless of what residents want, a Conservative administration would want to sell off all council homes in the borough.”
“He has made a stupid, politically motivated decision intended simply to embarrass this Council -- leaving a hard-working Group right before the important decisions need to be made.”
Ironically, Cllr George’s Conservative colleague Nick Kilby had requested the Liberal Democrat administration to set up a Cross Party Working Group on school places earlier in the evening.