THE biggest pay day in the history of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has been labelled “a scandal” due to the continuing furore about whether houses should be built on Manydown.

Opposition councillors are angry that £83million raised by selling council houses has not been spent on building new homes, as they claim was promised.

It was back in 1995 that the Conservative-controlled council banked the cash by selling its entire council housing stock to two newly-formed housing associations in a large scale voluntary transfer (LSVT).

It was voted for by a small majority of council tenants. who were told the proceeds would be used “to provide new homes in the borough”.

Within a year, £10million of this money had been used to buy 820 hectares of the Manydown estate to the west of Basingstoke.

Councillors were told the decision to purchase Manydown was “consistent” with the aim of providing new homes.

But Manydown has still not been developed and, while the borough is again under Conservative control, has been left off a list of sites proposed for development between now and 2026.

Instead, thousands of homes have been built on other greenfield land across the borough, with more to come.

The omission has led to relief for opponents of “Oakleystoke”, but anger among opposition councillors, residents and their representatives on the east of Basingstoke.

Cllr Laura James, leader of the borough’s Labour group, said: “This is a shocking misuse of public money. These social housing tenants, vulnerable people, were sold on the idea of the LSVT under the impression that the money would be used to fund new housing.

“Here we are 15 years later and no new homes have been built on Manydown. In fact, the Conservatives went out of their way to stop Manydown being built on. That is obscene.”

Cllr Ian Tilbury, from Overton, told The Gazette: “Instead of paying for new housing, as that money was intended, it is now being used to actually prevent new homes from being built. That is scandalous.”

In 1995 the sale of the council houses to Sentinel or Sovereign Kingfisher Housing Associations, as they are now known, was the biggest transfer of council houses in the UK.

In an information pack sent to tenants in 1994, the council said: “It is anticipated that the council would wish that the balance of usable capital receipts should be used to provide new homes in the borough.”

In May 1995, a Liberal Democrat and Labour coalition won control of the council and agreed the purchase of Manydown (pictured) in July of that year.

In a letter to all councillors, then chief executive Katrine Sporle said: “The pursuit of the objectives for purchasing the site appear consistent with the council’s aim of utilising the receipt from the LSVT for housing related purposes”.

A major plan proposed by a joint Liberal Democrat and Labour administration to build 8,000 houses on the site was thrown out by a planning inspector in 2005.

In 2006 the council, back under Conservative control suggested that Manydown should no longer be “promoted for development”.