Council Cuts Housing Targets

Housing problems will get worse before they get better, council bosses have admitted, after revealing that targets to build affordable housing are to be slashed.

Herefordshire Council has said the plans to improve upon the 212 affordable homes built last year would be scrapped due to the current economic climate.

The council is currently at the mercy of private housebuilders, relying on them to provide 35% of new-builds as affordable housing. When they fail to meet their targets, so does the council. During this recession many housebuilders have put projects on hold meaning that at a time when there is a greater need for cheap housing, the availability is actually going down.

We revealed in our last issue how more than 5,000 people are currently on local housing waiting lists, with just 10-15 housing association properties becoming available a week.

Since the beginning of last year we have seen Herefordshire Council make plans to close 40 schools across the county, plus a day-care centre in Kington. The council has gone ahead with the closure of the LEA swimming pool, despite huge public feeling that it should be reopened and plans are also in the pipeline to withdraw funding from many rural bus services that provide a lifeline for villagers across Herefordshire. And now it is slashing its affordable housing targets over the next two years to 220 and 275 new homes in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

These certainly aren’t unimportant local services that are being cut; we’re not talking about the council not having the money to paint all the double-yellow lines it had planned to, or that there isn’t enough money for an extra bin on the Castle Green for dog mess. In the case of housing, this is a basic human need and yet our council are prepared to invest £130 million on a bypass for Hereford but nothing to help build new houses. Already, millions has been wasted on the much-hated Edgar Street Grid development, millions of pounds that could’ve been spent on the new homes that are so desperately needed.

Of all the council’s plans to help county homeowners, the most significant has been to allocate £900,000 to help 15 households a year struggling with mortgage payments. Yes, only 15! Fifteen households! Thanks a lot, Roger. (What a joke!)

It’s clear where the Tory council’s priorities lie–not with people’s actual needs but with some disgusting idea of ‘development’ to attract huge multinational companies to the city, whilst the rest of us are worrying about where we’ll be living next month, as we queue to get in to the overcrowded Leisure Pool or wait for a bus that might never turn up.

Houses, or more shops? Clearly it’s more shops we need. How could we be so naïve.

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