Tories showing 'lack of political will' to deal with housing crisis, says Labour (From Times Series)
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Tories showing 'lack of political will' to deal with Barnet's housing crisis, says Labour
Barnet's Conservatives are showing a "lack of political will" to build affordable homes in the borough and deal with the current housing crisis, according to the opposition Labour group.
A recent survey found the issue of affordable housing topped a list of concerns for 1,600 residents in the borough, and Labour claims not enough is being done to alleviate the problem.
Housing charity Shelter recently described the level of private sector rents in Barnet as “extremely unaffordable”, with the average cost of renting a two-bedroom home at about 56 per cent of the average take-home pay.
Barnet Council is in the process of attempting to revive several regeneration schemes on large council estates that have stalled in recent years.
But Labour group leader Alison Moore has been critical of the Tories’ decision to reduce the number of affordable homes previously agreed in the developments.
She said: “There is a complete lack of political will from the Barnet Conservatives to build enough affordable homes to meet the needs of local people.
“They are not securing the target 40 per cent affordable housing on new developments, they are reducing the number of affordable homes already agreed on regeneration estates like Stonegrove, and the regeneration projects on West Hendon and In Cricklewood have ground to a halt.
“What we need is commitment from the council to stand up to developers and secure the maximum new affordable homes on new developments that is possible. We also need to dramatically increase the number of affordable homes for rent that the council can build themselves."
Barnet Council received £8.2million from central government in 2013 to build new homes, and deputy leader Dan Thomas said the authority was making the most of its resources.
He said: “London’s house prices and private sector rents have seen big increases in the last year and clearly this is a cause of concern for some residents in Barnet.
“Locally, the council has kept the borough’s ambitious regeneration schemes going throughout the recession and the recovery, making good use of the New Homes Bonus to place us well to cater to the increasing demand for housing.
“Furthermore, we have kept social housing rent rises below inflation when neighbouring Labour councils have put them up substantially above.
“It is ironic that (Labour’s GLA member for Barnet) Andrew Dismore and the Labour group like to talk about the need for more housing yet have consistently opposed plans for new homes and the refurbishment of council estates, including in the west of the borough where pressure is highest.
“They cannot have it both ways. Labour must set out where they would build homes and how they would be funded.”
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