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TORY HOUSING PLANS FAIL TO ADDRESS REAL ISSUES FOR THE NORTH EAST

April 9, 2009 11:16 PM

A senior Liberal Democrat has criticised the Conservative Party's Green Paper on housing for failing to address issues affecting house building locally.

Councillor Greg Stone, Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, said the Strong Foundations paper would hit new council house development in the North East.

He cited concerns over the policy paper's promotion of the extension of the right to buy council and housing association properties.

This is at a time when there is already a massive shortage of council and affordable social rented properties in Newcastle.

Greg also has concerns that the new proposals could exacerbate the depopulation of the North East by encouraging migration to other parts of the country.

The paper also fails to support local Lib Dem initiatives such as building badly needed new council houses - the first in Newcastle for decades - and introducing measures to support affordable home ownership or to allow local authorities to be more proactive in the housing market by acquiring unsold private new build homes for affordable rent.

Greg Stone said: "To put it politely, this policy document badly misses the mark.

"It fails to identify how councils can be supported to develop badly needed new stock, despite claiming to recognise the need for a strong local dimension to house building.

"Worse, its proposals to introduce a 'right to move' for tenants to access another property anywhere in England will cause administrative chaos and will fatally undermine efforts to regenerate the North East.

"While I support the principle of giving incentives to good tenants, these policies fail to recognise the need for replenishment of housing stock to address the rising waiting lists under Labour.

"The Tories promised that all their new policy proposals would be subjected to a 'Tyneside Test' as part of their professed commitment to this region.

"This policy proves that commitment is bogus. Their policies would lead to a further depletion of available council housing, and would do nothing to support councils to build new units or to intervene to take over unsold private units as the Lib Dems are advocating.

"It is a return to the bad old days of Thatcherism and would do nothing to meet housing needs in Newcastle East.

"These are not strong foundations; rather, they are built on sand."