Bonus scheme will help get people into empty homes

HAVING read the letters and articles relating to affordable housing in the press recently I feel it is necessary to stress the importance that the Conservative administration places on this vital area of local policy.

However, I would first like to address the issue of the Planning Committee’s recent decision to turn down the development in Wyberton.

A planning committee is a non political body and makes decisions based on local opinion as well as an areas strategic need. We need affordable homes, but we must achieve this in a way which is both sensitive and sustainable within the local context.

While some have expressed disappointment that the advice of officers to approve the development was ignored; decisions like this show local democracy in action.

To have simply rubber-stamped the officers’ recommendation is what happens in authorities where accountability to local people is contemptuously ignored. Localism is not the same as Nimbyism.

On a positive note and speaking as the relevant portfolio holder for housing, I am committed to dealing with the problem of local people not being able to rent or buy a local home.

I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach as needs vary, but in addition to building new stock we must do something to address the shameful situation of housing being left vacant, sometimes for so long it becomes uninhabitable.

One duty of a local authority has to be making the housing market work better and this is an approach to which I am personally committed. The New Homes Bonus is a Government scheme to enable local authorities to develop creative ways of working to solve their housing problems.

There are empty homes in Boston and we need to use the New Homes Bonus to get people in them.

Coun Mike Gilbert

Portfolio Holder for Housing, Property and Communities