Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Empty homes Campaign - March Update

Since 2006 I've led the local campaign for action to reduce the number of long-term empty homes in Reading. After my Lib Dem colleagues and I successfully persauded Labour's ruling administration to revive the long-dead empty homes strategy in 2008 I've pressed for regular updates on progress to ensure that the strategy delivers. Tomorrow afternoon, in my capacity as Chair of the HHCC Scrutiny Panel I will be going on a tour of Reading's empty homes to get a better understanding of the issue and what officers are doing to tackle the problem.
Latest facts and figures from RBC on empty homes in Reading, via the report to Scrutiny this Thursday:

  • On February 9 2010 there were 489 private sector homes in Reading that had been empty for 6 months or longer

  • This is a reduction of 28 homes since October 2009

  • The majority - 38% of empty homes in Reading have been empty for 1 year

  • 26% have been empty for 2-3 years and 2% have been empty for 5 years

  • Empty home numbers have increased in 4 wards and dropped in 11 wards

  • Wards with the highest numbers of empty homes are: Southcote (82), Battle (70), Abbey (68)

  • There have been increases in my ward of Redlands - up from 30 to 36, and a big increase in Park ward - up from 31 to 43

  • There have been falls in Katesgrove (down from 39 to 27) Whitley (from 20 to 18) and Minister (32 down from 40).

Officers have a range of tools and powers open to them to bring empty homes back into use. During this period a 'multi-enforcement team' approach has been applied to 3 empty homes and 2 homes in Battle ward have been returned to use using 'economic and legal powers of persuasion.' I have nothing but praise for the dedicated team of officers who are involved in this painstaking work. They do a very important job in my view. It's also great to see the Council linking up with local charities to try and find homes for people that need them via empty homes. I will continue to campaign to ensure that empty homes work done by RBC officers continues, after the issue was ignored for years by the Labour administration. Nationally, the Lib Dems are committed to bringing in legislation to return thousands of empty private sector homes to use as social homes to help address the huge need for affordable housing in the UK. In contrast the Conservatives have said they would scrap powers Councils have to tackle empty homes.

No comments:

Post a Comment