North Northamptonshire Council urged to put their ‘party political beliefs aside’ for housing crisis motion
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A motion demanding a clearer strategy to build more affordable social housing and preventing homelessness has been thrown out by North Northants Council (NNC) – as Conservative councillors insist that work is already being done.
The motion, asking to tackle the ‘real and continuing housing crisis’, was proposed by Cllr Valerie Anslow, Labour representative for Croyland and Swanspool, at a council meeting on August 31, but was concluded on Thursday (October 26) after running out of time to debate.
Issues cited in the motion include ‘massive delays in processing housing applications’, ‘lack of temporary accommodation’ and ‘little progress’ being made in assisting with rough sleeping programmes.
Cllr Matt Binley, executive member for highways, travel and assets, said: “It’s absolutely right that it’s something that we as a council consider, but this is something that we are actually doing and a strategy is actually being devised at the moment.
“It’s about prevention not the afterthought which is when it’s too late when somebody’s already homeless.
"That is the answer - not just looking at more temporary accommodation.”
Nationally, there were 94,870 households in temporary accommodation at the end of June 2022, with the number of households on the rise since 2011.
Cllr Binley said that North Northants has just over 200 people currently in temporary accommodation.
NNC use an online portal ‘Keyways’ to help residents on the housing register find social and affordable accommodation from the council.
The website states that ‘in North Northamptonshire and nationally, the current level of demand for social/affordable housing far exceeds supply’.
Cllr William Colquhoun, a Labour member representing Lloyds, said: “I know from within my own constituency that we have a huge increase in Keyways applications.
"This housing crisis has been going on since the 1980s and has been exacerbating itself constantly.
"This is for one reason and one reason only and that is political choice.
“I would urge members to put their party political beliefs aside here and think of the good that we can do for the people of North Northamptonshire.”
Executive member for growth and regeneration, Cllr David Brackenbury, disputed this saying that the Keyways backlog is declining.
He also said that they needed to consider the ‘economic realities’ that the council doesn’t have unlimited funds to build large quantities of social housing.
There are a number of housing developments ongoing in North Northants, with two planning applications in Rushden being approved by the council just last week.
According to government framework, at least ten per cent of housing provided in major developments should be made affordable, however there is no agreed definition of what that entails.
Cllr Leanne Buckingham echoed the concerns of her fellow Labour group member, saying: “Homelessness needs innovative solutions and we are the custodians of the public purse that is here to solve it.
"If the plan’s in place why not support the motion? We all want to support our residents don’t we? We all want a strategy.”
The motion was lost, with 15 voting in favour and 43 voting against.