Stop the long leases!

by merioconnell on 1 December, 2014

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When Labour led Reading Borough Council decided to close the Arthur Clark Care home and Albert Road Day Care facility, Lib Dems led the call for the land to be kept for housing Caversham’s elderly residents. RBC has awarded the contract to A2 dominion and we’re pleased that work can begin and homes made available as soon as possible.

However, we are worried about the decision to give a long lease of 125 years. None of us know what Reading’s requirements will be for our children’s generation, let alone our children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s generation. Will we even need care homes in 50 or 100 years time?

What looks like a good deal for us now may look very different in 25 years time, let alone 125 years. None of the Councillors or Officers that sat on the Policy Committee deciding this issue will be around when the long-term consequences of this agreement become apparent.

My colleague Cllr Duveen was dismissed in the council meeting that discussed this – just as opponents of Labour’s PFI deals were dismissed for pointing out the financial burdens that they generated and we are all now paying the price for. Labour have tried to suggest that the Reading Lib Dem group were opposed to the contract in general – however, it was just the 125 year lease that we oppose.

Of course A2 Dominion will say the long lease is necessary for them to build a new facility, but I would be amazed if their forward plans reach up to 125 years. The same Labour party that allowed the bankers to run wild at our expense, are still pandering to whatever big business wants here in Reading.

And now we are looking at awarding the contract to manage the Kings Meadow Lido with a 250 year lease! Let’s put this into context – if we were coming to an end of a 250 year lease this year, it would mean that the lease was awarded in 1764. Nobody in 1764 could have even begun to imagine the technological and social advances that have occurred over that time. Societies make up, beliefs and laws have evolved beyond all recognition.

RBC owned land belongs to all of us and our future generations. We shouldn’t be allowed to sell off the family silver – deals can be made and leases extended, but once contracts are awarded it will be very hard to review them in 50 years to review to see if they are still good value for money for Reading residents.

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