Luton Borough Council’s “sensible” housing agreement means Bedford residents “wouldn’t be evicted unless necessary”

Bedford Borough Lib Dems have said it is "shameful" for another council to try to move its residents into the borough
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Bedford Borough LibDems have said it is “shameful” for another council to try to move its residents into the borough.

Liberal Democrat Group leader, councillor Henry Vann (De Parys) was responding to claims made at a Luton Borough Council (LBC) meeting last month.

During this meeting, questions were asked about LBC’s arrangement with Arpeggio Properties Limited over accommodation in Bedford and possible evictions to allow Luton residents to move in.

Councillor Henry Vann Bedford Borough Council Liberal Democrat Group leaderCouncillor Henry Vann Bedford Borough Council Liberal Democrat Group leader
Councillor Henry Vann Bedford Borough Council Liberal Democrat Group leader

The council’s portfolio holder for housing, waste and climate change, councillor Tom Shaw (Labour) told LBC members: “We got an agreement so everything would be handled in a sensible manner and people wouldn’t be evicted unless necessary.”

He added that nobody had been evicted as of May 22, and that Bedford Borough Council was asked in 2021 if it would be interested in buying them.

“The Liberal Democrat administration did nothing about it,” he said.

“We were then approached. This good Labour group reached an agreement with the developers.

“No pressure has been placed on any tenants in these units and work is continuing to ensure none of these residents are made homeless.

“We can’t evict anyone because we don’t own the properties.

“Since the deal was signed in April 2022, 56 people have left of their own accord and found alternative accommodation.

“There’s no pressure being put on the rest because we’ll only fill it gradually.

“I’d have thought the Liberal Democrats in Bedford would say ‘well done to LBC for safeguarding our people’.

“We’ve evicted nobody, we’ve done a good job protecting Bedford people from the Liberal Democrats,” he said.

In a statement to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), councillor Vann said “It is frankly insulting to the residents who are going to be evicted by the Labour administration in Luton Borough Council to say that they have “done a good job” in protecting Bedford Borough residents.

“It is shameful to attempt to reduce their homelessness duty by pushing their own residents out of their borough and forcing our residents out of their homes.

“This is something that we would never do. Instead, we have consistently invested in temporary accommodation within our own borough to help people who are homeless have a place to stay.

“The former mayor, Dave Hodgson, wrote to the leader of Luton Borough Council expressing his shock and dismay at these unacceptable arrangements and we urge the current administration to continue his work by standing up for the residents and finding an acceptable solution,” he said.

A spokesperson for Bedford Borough Council told the LDRS: “We commenced a dialogue with LBC when we became aware of proposals for around 140 flats in Bedford Borough to be acquired for the purpose of being offered to LBC as social housing by Arpeggio Properties Limited.

“We continue to engage and work with LBC to try to minimise the impact of this scheme on BBC residents who are now at risk of becoming homeless.”

Arpeggio Properties Limited was approached for a comment, but did not respond by the time of publication.