Tuesday, 20 May 2014

'Hapless' Tory housing policy proposal withdrawn

Cornwall Tories today tried to propose a new housing policy which would deny Cornish members of the armed forces based out of Cornwall the chance to go on the housing register. The party also suggested that social housing should be of a lower quality than at present.

The debate took place on the proposed strategic housing framework for Cornwall. This is a document which sets out the ambition for more and better quality social housing to address to significant housing need in Cornwall.

One of the proposals that we are currently consulting on is to strengthen the need for local connections for those seeking social housing in Cornwall. We want to make sure that the untrue rumours about local housing being allocated to people from Birmingham or London with no local connection remain just that.

But Tory councillor Scott Mann chose to raise an amendment today in order to bar anyone without a current Cornish address from going onto the housing register.

Except that this would bar members of the armed forces based outside Cornwall from going on the local register to be able to return home. And it would also bar those Cornish people looking for a council house or housing association property but who are currently living across the border in Devon from seeking to return to Cornwall. Although Cornwall is bordered on three sides by sea, we do border Devon and plenty of people who would describe themselves as Cornish and who have local connections with border towns live in Devon, in villages like St Giles and Lifton.

And the Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Ferguson, also made suggestions that Cornish social housing should be maintained to a lower standard than we are currently proposing. She described the current maintenance programme as 'gold-plated'. Many speakers made the point that local people living in council housing deserve to live in high quality homes.

Ultimately, Cllr Mann chose to withdraw his proposal which was described as both 'hapless' and 'very silly' by councillors during the debate. Making sure that local people have the best access to affordable housing is absolutely right and forms the heart of the current council consultation on reform of the housing register. But ill thought through suggestions which would hit the armed forces and other local people are not the right way to proceed.

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