A proposal to invest an additional £1.8 million in local affordable housing has been rejected by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillor in Bath and North East Somerset.
At the authority’s budget-setting meeting last Tuesday, Conservative councillors proposed earmarking £1.8 million to support the delivery of new affordable homes and develop initiatives to help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder.
The Conservative amendment proposed to fund the investment by redirecting the £1.8 million earmarked by the Liberal Democrats for fifteen Gypsy and traveller transit pitches. Conservatives argued that the council should not be earmarking such a large sum of money to provide the traveller pitches before the authority has identified where the site could be, and that at a time of budgetary restraint the delivery of new housing was a higher priority.
However, the authority’s 29 Liberal Democrat and 5 Labour councillors joined together to vote down the proposal.
B&NES Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Francine Haeberling, moved the Affordable Housing amendment at the Council meeting. Councillor Haeberling said:
“Delivering more affordable housing for local families is one of the highest priorities of local residents. The Council will be receiving around £8.5 million from the Government’s New Homes Bonus over the next four years; money which could be reinvested into local housing. Yet the Liberal Democrat budget includes only a fraction of this, with just £500,000 this year and £700,000 next year for affordable housing.
“The Council could and should be doing more to deliver new affordable housing and support first-time buyers struggling to get onto the property ladder.
“That’s why Conservatives proposed an extra £1.8 million to help achieve this. Unfortunately, Labour and the Liberal Democrats rejected our proposal and instead chose to allocate the money to providing traveller pitches, before any sites have even been identified.
“We’re clearly very disappointed by this outcome and I’m sure that many residents needing to access social housing or trying to get onto the property ladder will feel very let down by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.”