Last week’s letter from Cllr Ricky Bower, Arun’s housing cabinet member, is, in my view, both patronising and gobsmackingly complacent.
In the first instance, having recently been re-elected on to Arun, I’m fully aware of the changes brought in by the Tory-led coalition which have banished housing targets in place of more ‘localism’.
By and large this should be a positive development, but not if it means our local and national housing problems get worse and not better as a result.
I find it incredible Cllr Bower claims the real figure for Arun’s housing waiting list will be ‘less than 50 per cent of the current figure’, which at the moment is 3,400.
This, he claims, is because of a change in ‘residency rules’, and because local authorities now have the right to determine their own rules for qualification for going on to the local housing register.
How convenient and what an amazing way to begin massaging
the housing figures so Cllr Bower ‘fully expects’ a cut in half of the waiting list, although as the responsible cabinet member, I would have expected a bit more certainty from him.
Yet where in Cllr Bower’s letter does he refute the evidence from national housing charity Shelter about the serious lack of affordable housing in the district and Arun’s decision to cut even further the already inadequate number of new homes to be built in the area over the next 15 years?
He complacently hides behind the new rules which determine who should and who should not be on the housing register to claim we don’t have a problem in Arun!
I wonder what the reaction would be if he told that to the many local families waiting for a decent home and knowing now there is even less chance of getting one; I wonder how the many thousands of ‘hidden homeless’ in Arun would react to
Cllr Bower’s assertion we don’t have a problem!
Add into the mix the recent revelations that even communities secretary Eric Pickles has serious concerns about the adverse impact of housing benefit changes on the homeless figures, plus the likely reduction in affordable housing because developers are realising they will not be able to recoup even 80 per cent of market rates from tenants.
The housing issue goes from a problem to a real crisis which, in Arun’s case, is definitely not helped by Cllr Bower’s incompetent and frankly insulting attempts to deny we have any problem at all.
Cllr Roger Nash
Leader Labour Group,