Backlash over right to buy scheme

New councillor: Karen Leytham
New councillor: Karen Leytham

A city councillor has hit out over proposals to abolish the extension of the right to buy scheme across the district.

Conservative Coun Peter Williamson said there was a “desire to manipulate people’s lifestyles” when registering for council properties.

Coun Peter Williamson

Coun Peter Williamson

Coun Williamson said: “What we should be doing is encouraging people to live in their own homes.

“There seems to be a desire to manipulate people’s lifestyle on this point system.

“I met a young lady who works five days a week, she pays £600 a month for a flat in Morecambe that she doesn’t like.

“I asked her about council accommodation and she just laughed, she wouldn’t get any points or special measures to get on the list.”

It’s about aspiration and that is what people in Morecambe want, a better town, better houses and a better future for their children

Coun Andrew Gardiner

Labour councillor Karen Leytham, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said the point system is needed to help prioritise those who are in higher need of a home.

Coun Leytham said: “There has got to be some way of allocating because some people have got higher priorities than others.

“I’m all for aspiration of owning your own home but we need to help those who can’t afford to.

“We’ve seen a lot of talk but precious little action from this government when it comes to building new affordable homes and at the same time our local housing stock is being gradually depleted.”

The changes to the right to buy scheme came into effect under the conservative manifesto in May 2015.

The extension of the scheme allows housing associations to also buy up council properties.

Despite support from the Labour and Green party the motion provoked a heated debate.

Lancaster City Council and Labour group leader, Coun Eileen Blamire, said: “The lady Coun Williamson mentioned, if she is working hard on very little money she is never going to be able to find a deposit for a house.”

Coun Andrew Gardiner said: “It’s about aspiration and that is what people in Morecambe want, a better town, better houses and a better future for their children.”

The proposals to abolish the extension of the scheme will be taken to the Secretary and Shadow Secretary of State for DCLG, Housing and Shadow Housing Minister, the district’s two MPs and Lancashire councils.