by mikebell on 24 April, 2019
A shocking story by the Guardian, looking at some of the private renters in Weston who are stuck in poor quality homes, squeezed between disinterested landlords and a slow to act council.
I’ve been pleased to work with local housing campaign group Acorn to try to tackle some of the worst examples of poor housing in Central Ward, but we need council-wide action to make this situation a thing of the past.
🏠 We need a new generation of council houses to provide quality rented accommodation for local people – I’ve proposed a £100 million investment fund to kickstart a building programme.
🏠 We need a compulsory licensing scheme for private landlords, so that the bad apples get forced out and letting agents and landlords alike take their responsibilities seriously. I’ve consistently called for this as a councillor and will keep fighting.
🏠 The council needs to adopt a clear ‘housing first’ policy – which means reducing the use of temporary accommodation, shelters and poor landlords and instead getting people into good quality long-term homes as the first and best option. I’ve been promoting this inside the council for some time and hope we can make progress.
🏠 Tackle the scourge of empty homes. There are still thousands of homes across North Somerset every year that are allowed to stand empty for long periods. The council needs to be tough in taking compulsory purchase action where they are left empty for years and use the council tax system to motivate landlords to get lettings or sales moving more quickly.
🏠 The housing team at the council needs to be properly resourced to tackle housing need, for those sleeping rough, at risk of homelessness and in poor quality housing. The Tories have ripped away much of the support available. It needs to change. I proposed an amendment to the council budget in January to secure some of this much needed support, but it was not accepted by the Conservatives.
🏠 The planning system needs to change to deliver the right homes in the right places and in a way that people – whether renting or buying – can afford. The council is driving plans for nearly 25,000 new homes in our area, yet in Weston town centre none of them will need to meet the ‘affordable’ definition. It’s just not good enough and I’ll continue to argue for local people in need to be put first.
What can you do to help?
1️⃣ Vote for change in the local council elections, backing the people best placed to defeat the Conservative council in your area. In Weston Central Ward, that is Lib Dems Mike Bell, Robert Payne and Ella Sayce.
2️⃣ Support local charities and campaign groups working on housing and homelessness like Acorn, the Weston Night Assessment Centre and others. They are providing vital practical support.
3️⃣ Write to your councillors and MP and ask them to do better on tackling housing need locally. Politicians need to act and not just talk about this issue. There are things that can be done, they are not all expensive and can have a significant impact.1 Comment