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Weston and the villages are in the grips of a housing crisis, say local Liberal Democrats

July 3, 2018 11:55 AM

The Liberal Democract Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Weston-super-Mare, Worle and surrounding villages is supporting plans announced this week by Vince Cable to tackle the housing crisis in Britain.

Patrick Keating said "Successive Governments have failed to address the housing challenge and have made it worse. Today the Lib Dems have announced plans to tackle the crisis. It won't be easy but we want to build a fair, free and open society."

The Liberal Democrat plan for tackling the housing crisis includes :

  • A programme of large-scale affordable housing. Of the 300,000 new homes a year, at least 50,000 should be social rented housing, rising to 100,000 a year as soon as we can. Our ambition should be to build 500,000 homes a year in total within the next few years.
  • A big expansion in 'rent to own'. Housing associations would build properties for occupiers to pay a market-level rent. The additional margin would yield the occupier an increasing stake in the property over time. Variants of this model are already in use in Liberal Democrat controlled local authorities like Eastleigh, and these just show the capacity of local government to step up to the plate and tackle housing affordability head-on.
  • A new, arms-length body that will be empowered by law to acquire land of low amenity and market value through compulsory acquisition and build houses available for five-year rentals which could be converted into freehold acquisitions with a mortgage.
  • Raising quality, safety and environmental standards in existing residential properties. Liberal Democrats have detailed plans for a zero carbon Britain by 2050, and the existing - as well as new - housing stock is at the heart of it.
  • Ending exploitative, greedy, negligent or neglectful practices in the private sector, which give the majority of good landlords a bad name. Measures include a publicly available database of rogue landlords; capping upfront deposit and banning letting agencies' fees for tenants.
  • Strengthening the sanctions for leaving homes empty, with fiscal measures to incentivise domestic use. For example, increasing the 200% council tax on homes deliberately left empty to 500%.

Blagdon resident and Lib Dem prospective MP Patrick Keating said:

"While it is clear that new homes will have to be built, the Tory run North Somerset Council is failing to deliver a proper housing policy that is fit for purpose in the town and the villages.

Uncontrolled development in rural areas will have a negative impact on the unique character of villages such as Churchill and Blagdon, while failing to invest in infrastructure will put additional pressure on schools, GPs and already congested roads. We have seen the council fail to listen to the concerns of Churchill residents about the major new development in their village.

Across the county, the Council allows new house building to take place without considering affordability while there are too many people in both the town and the rural areas who cannot afford to buy their own home."

Local resident and Lib Dem Campaigner for North Worle Alan Rice said:

"I have long campaigned for an improvement for tenants living in the private sector. Conditions in some houses are so bad that tenants suffer from things such as illnesses and mental health issues. Too often greedy letting agencies are abusing the tenants."

Liberal Democrat councillors on North Somerset Council will continue to fight for a fit for purpose housing policy that will ensure that enough affordable homes are made available where they are needed, the rights of tenants are protected and the views of local residents are taken into account.