Labour targets housing in Northumberland in run-up to elections

The Labour opposition in Northumberland is turning its attention to housing as it prepares a manifesto for the upcoming county council elections.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 10:17 am
The county council’s County Hall headquarters in Morpeth.
The county council’s County Hall headquarters in Morpeth.

While Covid-19 means that there is uncertainty about the polls going ahead, including many postponed from 2020, for now the first Thursday in May is when Northumberland will elect all of its councillors once again.

And as part of its preparations, Northumberland Labour welcomed the Shadow Housing Secretary, Thangam Debbonaire, to its manifesto meeting on January 19.

Group leader, Cllr Susan Dungworth, said: “We are developing our manifesto for Northumberland. A vital part is to ensure that everyone living in Northumberland has a warm, energy-efficient home.

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“Our plans include building 1,500 new homes, retrofitting existing council housing stock to make it energy-efficient and able to handle the challenges of climate change, involving tenants in planning and decision-making by giving them a seat at the table, improving housing association partnerships, and introducing private landlord licensing so tenants can be assured they are renting from a reputable landlord.

“We are very grateful to the Shadow Secretary for giving her time to join us. We’re very excited about what can be achieved by a Labour-led council and we’re looking forward to sharing our ideas.”

Ms Debbonaire added: “A Labour-led council will concentrate on the issues that really matter to local people.

“Housing is such a basic need and the current council and national government are failing many people who simply need a decent roof over their head.

“I’m pleased to be joining Northumberland’s meeting and hearing about their ambitious plans.”

In May 2019, under the current Conservative administration, the council announced a goal of delivering 1,000 new council-owned homes over the next three years as part of its draft housing strategy.

But when the strategy was finalised and signed off in August that year, the pledge was watered down slightly to ‘an ambitious target to see up to 1,000 new affordable homes built in the county’.

It also agreed that the strategy should run over four years, up to 2022, following a request from some members of the scrutiny committee that looked at the strategy.

Last week, we reported that the decision-making cabinet had approved an additional £400,000, taking the overall investment to £1million, for a scheme which will provide a total of 11 affordable homes to rent in Wooler. The money will come from the £16.6million pot allocated in the 2021-22 capital programme for affordable housing.

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