LABOUR figures in the town have reacted furiously to comments by Cheshire West and Chester Tory leader Cllr Mike Jones (Con, Broxton).
They say they are “appalled” at Cllr Jones’s attitude to council tenants and argue he has no interest in Ellesmere Port housing.
The Cheshire West and Chester Council leader told The Pioneer: “People shouldn’t be allowed to live in houses in such poor condition. It is a disgrace.
“The most deprived communities are paying 30% tax on their rent directly to the Government. It should be used to invest in housing.
“It was negligent of the former Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council to allow the properties to deteriorate.
“£90m was invested in Chester housing and to my knowledge they have had few complaints and hardly any problems in Vale Royal too.
“We are carrying out a survey to assess the state of the housing in Ellesmere Port to see which option is best for the council to house residents and the best way to invest and upgrade properties.”
Labour group leader Cllr Derek Bateman (Lab, Central and Westminster) and housing spokesperson Cllr Angela Claydon (Lab, Grange and Rossmore) issued a statement saying: “Yet again the Tories see the tenants of Ellesmere Port as mere pawns in their political games.”
“Former councillor Fred Venables, who championed the massive house building programme in Ellesmere Port in the 50s and 60s, with a policy of low rents where they were always kept lower than in other areas, was a delivery of Labour’s promises to local people,” said Cllr Bateman.
He points to a new Government announcement which will enable councils to again build houses and says there will be an extra £4.5m from rents to spend on repairs in Cheshire West and Chester.
Cllr Claydon added: “With roughly 12,000 people on the waiting list for houses in Cheshire West and Chester, the Labour Group welcomes the opportunity to keep all the rent collected locally and the proceeds of council house sales”.
She says the council would have direct control and would be able to be proactive in providing affordable social homes for rent across the whole borough.
This would boost local employment for building and maintenance.
“This new Labour Government initiative will allow the council to meet its responsibilities of the decent homes standard,” insisted Cllr Claydon.
She discloses that Labour councillors will be pressing Cheshire West and Chester to instruct its Executive to submit a bid for Government grant money.
This would enable new, low cost houses to be built for rent out of the Government's New Communities Fund which is available to construct 6,000 new affordable homes for rent throughout the country.
“We will be tabling a notice of motion to the council pressing the Tory Executive to take advantage of this once and for all opportunity,” said Cllr Bateman.
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