On November 27th, Cllr Richard Silvester commented on the social housing crisis in Bolton and across the country to the Bolton News. Here is Cllr Silvester’s full quote:
‘The Labour group of Bolton Council fully supports initiatives to create more affordable homes across the Borough, either affordable to buy or affordable to rent and using vacant brownfield land to do this. The present Council is actually continuing the work of the previous Labour administration who along with key partners such as Bolton At Home and The Irwell Valley Housing Association utilised brownfield land to create affordable homes; an example is the mixed development of houses and apartments on the former Council car park at Chorley Street which is now nearing completion. The planning application for that development was submitted in early 2019 before the present administration took control and the work to identify brownfield sites across the Borough as part of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, now re-named Places for Everyone was undertaken by the Labour Council so of course we would wish to see the work which Labour started off to continue. We do however have to ask after 11 years of a Conservative government, why there is such a housing crisis and the answer is very simple; the Conservative government has done very little to address the crisis and indeed has made it worse through many of their policies, taking away the subsidy for developers to de-contaminate former industrial land so that the incentive instead is for green open land to be developed with houses that are far from affordable for many people.
Nationally a Labour government would do what Labour did locally going back to the example of the Chorley Street development by rebalancing the power between developers and communities, ensuring local councils have stronger powers to deliver the affordable housing their communities need, and not housing that will make the most profit for developers. Labour would also close loopholes developers exploit to avoid building more affordable housing; give first time buyers first dibs on new homes, and stop foreign investors from buying up homes off plan before local people get a look in and re-establish the link between genuinely affordable housing and average earnings. The Conservatives have worked with developers to maximise their profits whilst home ownership has gone down on their watch. With the Conservatives planning proposals paused in Parliament, they have no strategy to meet their housing targets and deliver the new homes that the country needs. Labour is therefore watching very closely what the Conservative government and the Conservative administration of Bolton Council is doing and we will hold them to account if the pledges and targets which they have made for 2023 are not delivered’.