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West Suffolk councils urged to 'call it a day' with Barley Homes after county council cuts ties

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (4016424)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (4016424)

A county council’s decision to pull out of its affordable housing developer has seen the joint-owners urged to also ‘call it a day’.

Suffolk County Council is set to cut ties with Barley Homes - a joint venture between the county, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council - on Tuesday, because its set up is ‘too complicated’.

St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath, which are due to unite under West Suffolk Council in April, now intend to go it alone and will pay back £250,000 the county lent to the developer, which is yet to build any houses.

But county and borough councillor, David Nettleton, who voted against the project in 2015, said that the intention of the two councils to fund the developer on their own is ‘wishful thinking’.

“They may be able to keep it going for another year but what’s the point? It hasn’t delivered a single house and it hasn’t worked,” he said.

“We should be supporting local organisations, not pushing our way into an already crowded market to make a gain.

“West Suffolk should see that this hasn’t worked from the start. We should finish whatever houses we’ve started and then call it a day.”

Barley Homes was first set up by the three councils to help offset cuts to council budgets and build affordable housing. But the county council has said that ‘the complex partnership makes the work of the board difficult’.

Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance and assets at the county council, said: “We have agreed that it is simpler and more effective if Suffolk County Council withdraws from the company at this point and focuses on its strategic role in the broader delivery of housing across Suffolk, whilst district and borough councils lead on local schemes.”

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk councils’ cabinet member for housing, said the change ‘will reduce governance, bureaucracy, overheads and duplication’.

“Barley Homes provides a significant opportunity to make best use of public assets and deliver the right homes to support our local communities,” she said.

“It also means the local West Suffolk taxpayer will see the community and financial benefits rather than the commercial sector which would have been unlikely to deliver these much needed schemes.”

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