Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Government does small u-turn on Hyndburn housing cash

I have been pressing the government hard in parliament to fund housing in the constituency. We have 2500 empties.

Housing Market Renewal which should have put £50million into East Accrington was scapped with just £1million spent on acquisitions. Last February the Council Leader had personal correspondence from the then shadow minster 'guranteeing HMR funding to Hyndburn'.

Woodnook and East Accrington should have received nearly £9million next year.The Council had chosen to exclude many areas of the Borough and concentrate the first 70 years and £60million on West Accrington exlusively.

The government are under pressure for abandoning blighted communities. This £2.6million is welcome but is sticking plaster.

A report by Hyndburn Council in November highlighted housing repairs totalling £479million and that that figure would increase as more properties fell into disrepair.

We should stop private house building for those that will never afford to maintain the cheaply constructed homes built to supply the cheap end of the market. We should rebuild (from empties) hundreds of Council sponsored properties.

This housing crises and the disgraceful way Tory Councillors have sold Woodnook, East Accrington and Hyndburn down the river is shameful.

The last time I asked ministers they had received no correspondence from the Council challenging the cuts and so they cannot take any credit for today's announcement of £2.6million transitional payments. Especially when it only amounts to 30% of this years funding and 5% of the funds promised.

Already Councillors are dreaming up election schemes to win votes that won;t help Woodnook in thelonger term such as facelift grants. I am hopefully that Labour if successful in May will end wasteful schemes.

The funding will come to the Council without any prescription as to how or when it should be spent. It is revenue funding and therefore can be spent on either revenue or capital.

One thing that the Council could (and ought) to consider, is whether it banks the money this year, then adds it to the £1.3m that is arriving next year, so that we can sustain HMR type activities in woodnook over a two year period. However, this is all a matter for the Council to decide and at this stage they have taken no decision on it.

The people of East Accrington need to stand up now that the market in their/my area has been blighted by Council promises that this funding is used to correct that deficit.