COUNCILLORS are set to sign off on plans to launch a ‘referendum’ on future housing numbers in the borough - despite it costing up to £50,000 more than originally anticipated.

The consultation is expected to cost the authority between up to £80,000 despite ousted leader Julian McGhee-Sumner originally suggesting it would amount to £30,000.

WBC’s former boss outlined the plans at his last meeting as leader in March, telling councillors the ruling Tory administration would send the consultation to every household in the borough in order to understand whether residents agreed or disagreed with government-imposed housing numbers.

Since then, Julian McGhee-Sumner has lost his council seat and the plans have been adopted by new leader councillor John Halsall.

But Labour councillor Andy Croy told the News he was surprised proposals are still going ahead.

He said: “I’m just astonished they found nearly 100 grand. There is no money for lollipop ladies or for carers’ allowances but suddenly they can get nearly £100,000 for this nonsense.

“It is going to cost £80,000 to find out something we already know yet they (the ruling group) would rather spend the extra money.

“The issue of overdevelopment has come up over and over again.

“People want the right sort of housing, we need the small social housing that people can afford to rent. The vast majority of housing is not affordable.

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“People have already decided what they think of this - Julian still managed to lose his seat despite it being his idea.

“They knew what they were doing - if it was a serious proposal they would have introduced it much sooner

“It is just ridiculous. We need a proper government that can tackle this issue, not one that is fixated with Brexit.”

According to a report, the council wants to gauge residents’ views on ‘government-imposed housing numbers’ in order to “engage with the government to get them to be more reasonable regarding expected development levels going forward.”

Residents will be sent a postcard or letter with a freepost response included if they want to send back a hard copy response, but a link to a website with the online survey will also be attached if people wish to submit their answer online.

The council’s top team are set to give the green light to proposals at an executive meeting tonight (Thursday, May 30) and Conservative councillor Pauline Helliar-Symons defended the move at a meeting the night before.

She said: “I personally, along with the rest of my group, am committed towards no more housing, I know the Liberal Democrats and the independents are, therefore I can’t agree this is party political.

“It’s all about persuasion - if we take this to the government it strengthens our argument.”

Tory Guy Grandison backed up his colleague, saying: “I’d rather spend £100,000 on this than £300,000 on planning appeals.”

But this came after independent councillor Richard Dolinski slammed the ruling party’s action on housing numbers as “chaotic” and after Cllr Croy claimed the proposal was “pure electioneering”.

Liberal Democrats councillor Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey added: “If you send out a postcard asking ‘do you want more houses or not, I don’t think you’ll get 10 people saying they want more houses.

“It’s a waste of time and a waste of money as this point. No one wants more houses but we’re going to get them anyway.”

Should the plans be approved, the consultation is set to take place in summer 2019, with exact dates to be confirmed.