Sandy Hore-Ruthven, Green Party candidate for Mayor of Bristol is calling for the Mayor to announce a review of Bristol’s Housing strategy at his State of the City Speech on Wednesday following the government’s announced intention to lift the borrowing cap for local authorities. The cap currently dramatically limits councils from borrowing against their own existing housing stock to build new properties.
Commenting Sandy said: “The Mayor has a unique opportunity to review the city’s housing and planning policies. As a city we can afford to be much more ambitious now. This needs to be the start of a major change in the number of houses, and especially affordable houses, we’re building in the city. We need to act and deliver the right homes in the right places for the people who needs them, particularly focussing on social housing for those who need it most. This money gives us the ability to lead. We must take this opportunity.”
Despite Labour’s pledge to build 2000 extra properties a year in Bristol by 2020 – the year of the next Mayoral election – there are still more than 11,000 families on the housing waiting lists and homelessness in the city has continued to rise by more than 128% over the last three years. The recent closure of two emergency homelessness support centres has worsened the situation along with austerity led cuts to essential support services that keep people in their homes.
Sandy added: “This is an opportunity for Bristol City Council to show it can deliver, and we look forward to an announcement at the State of the City address.”
Eleanor Combley, Leader of the Green Group on Bristol City Council, said, “This administration has focused on getting housing built of any type to meet the Labour Mayor’s manifesto target, but Bristol’s housing problem is not just a numbers game. We already have thousands of empty properties in Bristol while the number of homeless people continues to rise. Encouraging developers to build more unaffordable investment properties is not going to change that.
“Bristol needs a sea change in the housing market to provide genuinely affordable and social housing, and I hope the Labour Mayor will show true ambition for Bristol and lay out plans to seize the opportunity presented by the lifting of the borrowing cap to provide it.”