THE deal to sell £2.7m worth of council housing for just £3 was ‘above board’ according to former Blackpool Council leader Coun Peter Callow.
Coun Callow hit back after an investigation was launched – by new leader Coun Simon Blackburn – into the sale of the properties on Crystal Road, Pleasant Street, Tyldesley Road and Central Drive, to housing association Great Places.
The sale was made as part of a scheme to prevent larger accommodation being turned into houses of multiple occupancy. Instead they will be converted to family homes.
Coun Callow said: “I was leader and chairman of the executive committee at the time and believe the sale was in order.”
The funding to buy the homes was provided by the Homes and Communities Agency.
Coun Callow added: “The agency was aware and insisted that we sell to the housing association for a nominal sum – we were told we were not to receive any capital receipts because the funding they had was to be spent on the conversion work.
“This money was supplied specifically for this purpose so it has not come out of taxpayers’ funds in Blackpool.
“The government did not want us making money out of Great Places and that should draw a line under the matter.”
Former councillors Sue and Ian Fowler were paid £180,000 for their property on Crystal Road as part of the process.
However, Coun Blackburn launched an inquiry and said: “There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the council’s purchase of properties in Crystal Road and subsequent sale of the houses.
“I have requested the chief executive commission a full independent audit into the criteria for selecting the properties, the price paid and how that related to the condition of the buildings.”
Coun Callow said a separate inquiry into the Fowlers was a matter for the authority to look into.