Call for Wiltshire Council to address empty homes scandal
By Trevor Carbin
A motion to Wiltshire Council calls on the authority to take seriously the fact that many homes are standing empty whilst families have to put up with homelessness or sub-standard accommodation. Bringing derelict properties back into use could also reduce the pressure from developers to build on greenfield sites. WC has previously toyed with the idea of employing an 'empty homes officer' to work on the problem, but hasn't got round to doing it. Here's the motion as put forward by Cllrs Howard Marshall (Calne Central) and Brian Dalton (Salisbury Harnham)
1. 'That this Council recognises the acute demand for housing in Wiltshire, given the 16,245 persons on the waiting list for social housing, as well as the need for growth and development.
2. Council recognises that of the 16,245 applicants seeking social housing in Wiltshire, 4,022 are currently identified as Gold or Platinum banding applicants, who are in urgent need of housing or re-housing due to threats of violence, urgent medical needs, severe overcrowding, and other similar problems.
3. Council further acknowledges that the cost of providing emergency accommodation can be disproportionate to the cost of providing good-quality social housing. (FOI request has been submitted, more info on costs soon).
4. Council regrets that there are currently in excess of 5,000 empty homes in Wiltshire, of which 1,751 are long term empty homes, and calls on the executive to prioritise the appointment of an Empty Homes Officer. Council recognises the cost of making an empty home habitable is usually significantly less than building a new home from scratch.
5. Council recognises that neighbouring local authorities have had success with Empty Homes Officers, including Bristol City Council, which has brought over 250 long term empty homes back to the market in the last 6 months, compared to Wiltshire's 79 homes brought back to market in the last year.
6. Council therefore calls for the immediate appointment of an Empty Homes Officer, for which funding has already been allocated, to ensure that unused houses are brought back into the market as soon as possible'.