Norwich South Liberal Democrat candidate says council tax hike could stop 300 homes in Norwich standing empty
PUBLISHED: 13:03 14 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:05 14 May 2017
Almost 300 homes in Norwich have stood empty for more than six months, says the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Norwich South.
And James Wright, who also leads the Lib Dem group on Norwich City Council, says his party would hike council tax on empty properties to get them back into use.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to ensuring 300,000 homes a year in the UK are built for sale and rent by the end of the parliament.
There are currently 4,234 families in Norwich on a waiting list for council homes, up from 4,017 last year and Mr Wright said official figures also show 295 homes in the city have been empty for more than six months.
Mr Wright says his party would allow councils to increase council tax on empty homes by up to 200pc and give them powers to impose penalties on developers who leave plots of land empty for three years or more.
Mr Wright said: “Hundreds of families in Norwich are struggling to find a decent and affordable place to call home. Many young people, in particular, are finding it virtually impossible to get on the housing ladder.
“I have long called for councils to make more use of the powers they have, such as compulsory purchase orders, to force developers to develop sites they have purchased and subsequently neglected.
“The market is broken and has failed to deliver. That is why we are setting out radical plans to fix the housing crisis.
“A Conservative landslide would allow the government to take people for granted, meaning years more soaring rents and failure to build enough affordable housing.
“A better future is available. Have hope, vote Liberal Democrat and we can change Britain’s future and build the affordable homes Norwich needs.”
Prime minister Theresa May is pledging to support local authorities in building a new generation of council houses for rent if the Conservatives are returned to power in the election on June 8.
The Conservatives offered little detail as to the scale of the programme, saying simply they expected thousands of homes to be built each year with hundreds of millions of pounds invested over the course of the next parliament.
In contrast, Labour has said that it wants to see at least a million new homes built over the next five years, with at least half of them council houses.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey dismissed the PM’s pledge as “spin without substance”.
Other candidates standing in Norwich South are: Richard Bearman (Green); Lana Hempsall (Conservative) and Clive Lewis (Labour).