Prime Minister’s council house pledge won’t help Ipswich, says Ellesmere

David Ellesmere in Widgeon Close. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

David Ellesmere in Widgeon Close. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

As Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to spend £2bn more on affordable housing across Britain, Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere warned it was unlikely to make much impact in the town.

Mrs May told the Conservative Conference that she was dedicating her premiership to “Fixing Britain’s housing crisis” and said the new money would enable local authorities and housing associations to build a “new generation of council houses.”

There would also be help for young people who wanted to buy their own homes.

Mrs May said: “So whether you’re trying to buy your own, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on its way.”

She said the extra £bn would bring the government’s total spending on affordable homes up to £9.1bn between 2016 and 2021 – and it could bring in extra private money to help build affordable housing as well.

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Mrs May said solving the crisis would not be “quick or easy” but vowed to “make it my mission to solve this problem”.

However Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere, visiting partially-built council homes in Widgeon Close, said the help was targeted at areas of Britain that had very high rents – and that did not include Ipswich.

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And he said the government had put up obstacles to the authority building more council homes which could have helped ease the housing shortage in the town.

He said: “When the government stopped us from building new council homes in Ravenswood, against the advice of their own inspector, they said we could not build developments of council homes like Bader Close – they have to be mixed developments.

“That has effectively stopped us building anything other than very small numbers like this handful of homes in Widgeon Close.

“If those restrictions were eased we could build another 150 homes on land we already own. That is a drop in the ocean so far as the town is concerned – but it would provide good homes for families desperate to find somewhere to live.”

He said government funding cuts to housing associations had meant the borough was the only organisation building new developments of social housing in the town at the present time.

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