Merging company

Swan Housing: “Taxpayers’ money could support Queensway”

TAXPAYERS ‘money could be used to save the £ 575million Queensway project, opposition advisers fear after the housing company involved was criticized by government inspectors.

Concerns over the 1,760-home project rise after inspectors found Swan Housing had a “significant deterioration in its financial situation.”

Ron Woodley, deputy head of Southend Council, has insisted taxpayer funds will not be used, but opposition councilors remain concerned.

The council recently reached a deal with the developers behind the Seaway Recreation Development to hand over £ 10million to launch the project, after concerns were raised about its financial viability.

Tony Cox, leader of the Southend Tories, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if council were to support this project and taxpayers should bail it out. We will worry about whether he goes ahead after the report.

“There should be concerns about the audits that are done on the partners for advice on these projects. We need assurances that the business is stable and in a good financial position to pursue these plans.

“The merger causes the merger which just wraps it all in more uncertainty, I think. It doesn’t always mean that plans will go ahead when that happens, as companies will be reconsidering the proposals.”

It comes as the bosses of the Swan Housing Association are entering talks with Orbit Group Limited to merge the two companies with the aim of improving the social housing company.

The huge Queensway plans will see 1,760 new homes built.

Ron Woodley, independent deputy head of Southend Council, has insisted that the company’s problems will not impact the Queensway project.

He said: “The Conservatives were all for the Queensway project and we will not support it. The company is considering merging with Orbit, which will help. I am not affected by the project. We have to see the situation with the merger and I haven’t had any correspondence about it being in any way detrimental to the project.

Inspectors reported a lack of business planning and capacity to manage risk at Swan.