At the full meeting of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council on Monday 23rd November, Councillor for Hatfield West, James Broach, raised the issue of the Housing Bill currently progressing through Parliament. The specific question raised was:
"I’m sure the Leader is familiar with the Housing and Planning Bill currently progressing through parliament. Does he agree with me that the proposed forced sale of council homes is an absurdity given the current chronic lack of social housing in our Borough, that other measures contained within the bill trample all over the idea of localism, given the huge powers the secretary of state is giving himself, and further that it fundamentally destroys this and other councils ability to ensure we have a much needed mix of housing to suit a range of needs in Welwyn Hatfield?"
Instead of answering the question himself, Cllr Dean asked Cllr Mandy Perkins to response, who instead attempted to praise the Conservative’s shocking record on building houses, and ultimately stated that they would be supporting the proposed bill – yet again, failing to stand up for local residents.
Cllr Broach responded by saying that although a handful of social housing is being built, it is still significantly less than the homes we lose each year. Cllr Broach branded John Dean, the Leader of the Council as a “deficit denier”, given his failure to recognise the net loss both financially and in terms of homes this council has. Cllr Broach went on to ask:
"If the leader cannot be bothered to fight for such basic and fundamental things on behalf of residents, what is the point of him being the leader of this council?"
This question prompted a wave of silence from the Conservative councillors – the inability to answer the question mirroring the inability to stand up for local residents. Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Broach said:
"I’m outraged that the local Conservatives seem to think that it’s OK for their central government overlords to decide social housing policy for Welwyn Hatfield. These are decisions that need to be made by people who know and love the area, not by someone sitting behind a desk with a map".