Tory plan for extra council houses

A PLAN to build a new generation of council housing funded by tax receipts from second homes will be included in the Northumberland Conservatives’ manifesto, the group has said.

Earlier this month, its deputy leader Coun Glen Sanderson made a formal motion to Northumberland County Council asking members to agree to ring-fence council tax income from second homes and appropriate empty properties to create a fund to kick-start a new programme of council housing in the county and provide the next generation of social houses for residents.

But the proposal was defeated after Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors voted against it at a full meeting of the authority. However, the Tories have said that the commitment to a new generation of council housing will feature in their 2013 local elections manifesto, so the electorate can decide.

Coun Sanderson, who represents the Chevington with Longhorsley division, said: “The county council takes £3.5million-worth of tax from second home owners each year. Northumberland Conservatives believe that some of this should be ring-fenced to build affordable homes for working families.

“Just last year, the Audit Commission criticized Northumberland County Council for not investing resources in housing priorities. At the moment, there are 13,000 people on the waiting list for housing, but the council is only building 143 affordable homes each year. Now, more than ever, the council needs to be proactive. We have the land to build new council houses, we can source new money to build, so now we need to stop talking and get building.”

Coun Sanderson told the Gazette that although the motion was defeated, he has managed to get the council to agree to begin investigations on how such a system should work.