Housing strategy criticised for not giving priority to those ‘born or educated’ in Boston

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston
News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

The council’s housing strategy has been criticised from opposition councillors over priority not being given to people ‘born or educated’ in the area.

At a meeting of the cabinet, counclllors voted to approve the policy for 2012-2017 which aims to increase the number of homes available and make social housing arrangements more flexible.

But Labour councillors Paul Gleeson and Paul Kenny, criticised the authority for not giving priority to ‘people born or educated in the local area’, those in or seeking employment, disabled people, injured ex services personnel and foster carers.

Coun Gleeson said: “We accept this is a difficult issue to address, but we need to come up with a policy that addresses some of the concerns of local people who were born and eduicated here.”

Following the meeting, Coun Mike Gilbert said: “Whilst some may see it as desirable for priority to be given to people born or educated in the local area, these factors alone would almost certainly put the council at odds with Equalities legislation introduced by the last Labour Government.

“The strategy is intended to encourage housing providers to be flexible with all groups who are making a positive contribution to their community, either by work or other activity, such as foster-caring.

He added: “The other groups are all given priority, both within the policy and may be given priority within the policies of the individual partner housing associations.”

The policy will see the housing providors use five-year fixed-term tenancies which would then be continually reasssed to ensure the property is not left with a surplus amount of bedrooms and the tenants’ circumstances change and some move out.

Criticism was also made by the Labour councillors about the authority having not consulted with tenants about the strategy, and for ‘not using its powers under the new Localism Bill’.

Coun Gilbert responded: “Boston Borough Council does not own housing stock and therefore has no tenants to consult. The policy was consulted on by the relevant scrutiny committee at Boston Borough Council, draft copies sent to all housing providers for consultation and I attended the board of Mayflower Housing Association to discuss the tenancy strategy.”