The city's housing chief has been forced to defend allegations that he reneged on a plan to build 19 ‘homes for heroes’ in the city.
Labour cabinet member for development Coun Tahir Ali was grilled by the Edgbaston District Committee over his decision not to go ahead with the veteran’s homes planned for Loftus Close, in Bartley Green.
The Tory run committee had been trying to get Coun Ali to appear since last March when it first it became clear the homes would not go ahead.
Coun Ali clashed with Tory councillor John Lines, who as cabinet member for housing in 2011 launched the first batch of homes for heroes in Merritts Hill, Bartley Green.
The homes for heroes scheme involves veteran’s charity the Alderson Trust building the houses on land supplied by the city council.
The pair exchanged blows with the Tory saying the council was letting down ex-service personnel, and the Labour man pointing out that a new housing allocations policy would give ex-service men and women higher priority on the council housing list.
Coun Ali (Lab, Nechells) said: “The development at Loftus Close was only ever ‘potential’ development. It was simply a potential site. It is a fact that the Alderson Trust does not have the money to build the homes.”
He said that new council housing built on the site, as well as anywhere else in the city, would be made available to veterans who will be given greater priority under a new housing allocations policy due to be enacted later this year.
Coun Lines (Cons, Bartley Green) said: “The Alderson Trust is a viable organisation, it’s got the facility to build more homes if need be.”
He also challenged Coun Ali’s accusation that veterans were given less priority in the past, saying that he had developed an Armed Forces Community Covenant in 2012 which provided extra housing points to forces members as well as access to other services.