Thirty years in the making
I can’t describe the excitement amongst my colleagues when the council announced that it was going to be building its first new council houses for more than thirty years.
|Sue (centre) and I were delighted to join Emma Reynolds MP last October.|
With more than 12,000 on the waiting list – there’s a chronic shortage of council housing in our city. There are a plethora of reasons for this – the evolution of Right To Buy being one – but I’ll leave the whys and wherefors to the politicians to debate.
What I do know though is that the 40 or so new homes being built at Thompson Avenue in the Parkfields area of the city are going to make wonderful homes for the families who received their keys earlier this week.
I’ve watched with real interest as the site has developed over the past few months and back in October I went for a tour around the development with the Chair of our Board, Sue Roberts MBE. We’re going to be managing the new homes so it was quite fitting that the day we went was the day before her wedding anniversary (she won’t thank me if I say how long ago her wedding was!) But what was fascinating is that her wedding reception took place at the pub where the new houses will now stand. I thought that was quite fitting. Council housing must run through Sue’s DNA!
It was lovely to see the new homes being built. They were modern and energy efficient with lovely garden areas and I’m sure there’ll make wonderful family homes for many years to come. But of course what we really need now is more.
Massive credit needs to be given to the council for building these new homes and I’m delighted that we’re going to play a small role in some small new-build projects with the council over the next couple of years. But of course this is really only tinkering around the edges when it comes to solving the housing crisis in the UK. The National Federation of ALMOs say that the next government has the ability to free council’s up to build more homes. In fact, they reckon that councils could build up to 60,000 much needed new homes over the next five years – just by increasing the amount of debt councils can borrow against their housing stock. The case is compelling. It says that 92p out of every £1 spent on building stays in the UK and that 56p of this returns to the Exchequer - with 36p of that bringing direct savings in tax and benefits. In times of austerity – building things seems like a very sensible thing to do!
Now of course Wolverhampton Homes is apolitical - but with less than 100 days until the general election you’ll no doubt be getting letters, phone calls and leaflets from your local candidates. It’s no up to me to say who you should vote for (but please make sure you go out and vote for someone) but if you get the chance to speak to your candidates ask them what their views are on the housing situation and what they’d do to help solve the crisis. I’ll certainly be asking candidates who knock on my door that very question.