One of the most frequent issues raised by residents across Welwyn Hatfield is the lack of Council Housing, with many facing a long time waiting lists or prevented from being considered at all.
With ever increasing “market levels” of rent and home ownership costs increasingly out of reach, families are left wondering where future generations are going to live with many facing the reality of seeing them move away to other parts of the Country.
The reality of this being considered a side issue by the Conservatives is laid bare when considering the farcical local plan process the Conservatives has dragged out over 12 years, costing nearly ten million pounds in the process. In the Councils “objective assessment of housing need” not a single unit of Council housing is proposed to be built.
In July last year, Hatfield Central Labour Councillor Glyn Hayes proposed a review of the Council’s policy to maintain a stock of 9,000 Council houses – arguing that this number should seek to be increased not simply maintained . Cllr Hayes succeeded in asking that a report be commissioned to look into this and establish if the existing policy was out of touch with local needs.
On the 1st November 2021, the Council’s Scrutiny Committee discussed this report which not only highlighted the need for more Council homes across the Borough but also how the Conservative Council had allowed existing homes to fall into widespread disrepair and even neglected basic safety requirements. The Committee recommended to the controlling Conservative Cabinet that they address the need for increasing social housing in our Borough.
On the 4th January, the Cabinet accepted the recommendation and committed to further reviews seeking to incorporate measures to be budgeted into the 2023/24 financial year.
Cllr Hayes said:
“The truth is that so called affordable homes in Welwyn Hatfield aren’t affordable to most people. Disgracefully, we see land owned by this council (and local residents) such as car parks and former garage sites turned into private accommodation that local people simply cannot afford. Just look at the development up at Hilltop in Hatfield. Hundreds of new homes crammed into a former shopping district, none of them social housing – who’s going to be living there, who’s going to be profiting from that?
There is an opportunity to tackle the inflated housing market bubble, and create decent housing for local people desperately in need of it – and also generates huge lifetime profits for the Council to support wider community services.
Labour is committed to this basic and obvious need, and we will hold the Conservatives to account should they continue to fail to deliver this most basic requirement for local people”