A WAR of words has broken out over the building of new council homes in Warwick district.
Labour members of Warwick District Council have accused the Conservative-run administration of stalling over building new council homes for social rent – a claim rejected by the Tories.
Coun Colin Quinney, Labour’s spokesperson for housing, said his party’s proposals to invest a proportion of council reserves
in new homes had twice been voted down.
But district housing spokesman Coun Peter Phillips told The Observer available land not money was the problem.
Coun Quinney has disputed this and pointed to a case last year when a landowner was prepared to sell a “highly suitable development site” in Warwick to the council, but claims the council was then concerned at the potential cost of a building levy imposed by the government to fund an extension of the Right to Buy to housing associations.
Coun Quinney said: “That was last year’s favourite excuse – their own government’s uncertain, potentially costly policy stopped them taking even modest action locally.
“Another, inconsistently is that they are poised to act if an ‘opportunity’ arises – rather disproved by the rejected Warwick offer. And now, it’s back to lack of land. Labour suspect the real reason may be indifference and lack of will.
“The council have been sitting on derelict land at Court Street for many years. The Riverside House/new HQ project on council land scandalously has zero ‘affordable’ housing.
“For all the warm words, Coun Phillips and his colleagues may simply not be serious about low-cost housing as a critical priority.”
But Coun Phillips was adamant providing affordable homes was a focus for the council.
He told The Observer: “We have been lobbying the Government for increased headroom to fund new developments and the Chancellor announced this in late 2017 to begin in 2019, too late for this development – which was bought by Orbit Housing Association to build affordable homes on.
“This administration has seen a 75 per cent increase in the building of social and affordable housing in two-and-half-years, we will see the rate of growth continue in 2018 and into 2019, and we have built the first new council houses in 30 years in the district. We have also recently agreed terms on another large property in the district to provide accommodation to help the homeless get back on their feet.
“We’re about delivering houses and homes in all forms. The result of all this activity is that we have reduced the council house waiting list from 3,600 to 2,400 in two years. We’re committed to continue building more houses and getting more people off the waiting list into homes.”