David Musgrave, Southdown Candidate asks why, despite the rising homeless crisis evident in Bath, the Conservative council is once again failing take steps to tackle the problem. Letter to the Chronicle published 31st Jan.

I had an immediate feeling of surprise and pleasure on reading on the BANES Council website last weekend that the Council proposed to acquire the site of the redundant Catholic church near my home in Sladebrook Road for housing.  Given the shortage of social housing and the increasing level of homelessness nationally and locally this seemed an excellent idea.

On reading down. however, my pleasure turned to dismay, when it became clear that this was simply a money- making idea to replace some of the lost funding from central government.  There is no mention of social or even ‘affordable’ housing in the proposal but an emphasis only on a hope of making a million pounds for the Council.

To my mind a Council has no business speculating on the housing market (which is likely to be particularly volatile in the near future anyway).  The issue in Bath is much less one of a general shortage of housing than of a failed distribution, a pattern over the past generation of promoting home ownership as the ‘norm’  at the expense of those who need or prefer to rent.

I would appeal to the Council to, yes, go ahead with the purchase of the land but then, rather than bank the proceeds, build on the site houses worthy of Bath’s proud tradition of high-quality council housing.  Pressure needs to be maintained on central government to provide proper funding for local authorities that would make short-term fixes like the present proposal unnecessary.

Rev David Musgrave

Labour candidate for Southdown ward

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