Thursday, 3 March 2011

Guildford Tories failing those in housing need

I'm going to start to do more local stories now and this is the first one. Please let me know what you think.

At the moment, there are three thousand, nine hundred and sixty-four people on Guildford's Housing Registers. That's almost 4,000 people in need of affordable, rented or low-cost shared-ownership homes. But don't worry, after all, we're the third richest town in the country so I'm sure we'll be able to sort the problem out...

Oh. Apparently, I assumed incorrectly.

See, it turns out that the tories running the council aren't that keen on solving the problem and only plan to provide 64 more affordable homes this year. This isn't a case of not having enough money though, as they've already 'borrowed' £10.4 million pounds from the Council's Housing Reserves and used it to help fund G-Live.

Now, I'm all in favour of Guildford having a world class live entertainment venue but, when you come down to it, I think I'd much rather see money spent on providing affordable homes for those in need or on maybe reopening the centres for the elderly which the tories have closed down.

But, you know, never mind. I'm sure they'll at least make the most of the land they've already bought for affordable housing development.
There is Council-owned land available, such as Bright Hill car park, which was purchased using housing money and could be used to build many affordable homes. Yet this Council plans to build only 21 affordable homes at Bright Hill, along with 39 private market houses!
Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Fiona White

So, rather than make full use of the land the council has already bought for the very purpose of building affordable housing the tories have decided to build more than twice as many private homes than affordable ones. Well isn't that just peachy. To put that into context, let's look at this gratuitous pie chart (because I like using excel but haven't had much chance to lately):

So, let's just quickly run over the facts again. 4,000 local people need affordable housing, the council has the money to provide affordable housing, the council has the land to build the affordable housing on, but has instead decided to provide 64 affordable homes this year and to spend over £10 million of housing money on a new entertainment venue instead. Great.

Don't worry though, I'm sure that now the Lib Dems have pointed this out the council will do something about it.
The Lib Dem proposal was defeated by the Conservative majority on the Borough Council, with one Conservative councillor commenting: "Spending all of the affordable housing money on entertainment has nothing to do with the lack of affordable housing in Guildford."
Lovely. Given that one of my main priorities as a council candidate is affordable homes for those in need, and that I tend to get quite passionate about such issues, I think it's probably be best to leave the last word to Cllr Fiona White before I start swearing.
"Such an insensitive remark is beyond belief. When it comes to housing need, the Conservatives just don't get it."
You said it.

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