Northumberland’s Labour Group was delighted to have Shadow Housing Minister Thangam Debbonaire to its manifesto development meeting on housing.
Ms Debbonaire said she was pleased to be joining her Labour colleagues in Northumberland, though she would have much preferred to meet face to face and said she looked forward to doing so as soon as it’s safe.
Significantly Labour has made the ministerial post housing and homelessness to ensure the issue of homelessness is a priority on a future Labour government’s agenda.
In welcoming the shadow minister, Labour Group leader Susan Dungworth said: “Our housing manifesto is based on the principles of the Marmot Review report of 2010 called Fair Society, Health Lives. Ten years later we have yet to see any of the principles come to fruition to benefit people in the country. This is why it is so important to do something about it now.
“Labour believes if you get housing right, you get so many other things right.”
The shadow minister said: “Housing is a Labour issue and people recognise that Labour is the party of housing. It’s up to us to push housing further up the agenda because we believe decent, energy efficient, affordable housing is a human right. Every child should have a decent home.
“Because of changing lifestyles, people living alone for example, we estimate there is a shortage of somewhere in the region of five million homes in this country. Labour wants decent homes with space, access to transport and places for children to play.
“We also need to look at housing and its effect on carbon emissions as this contributes to 14 percent of the country’s total carbon emissions. We want to retrofit homes to make them energy efficient and cut down people’s fuel bills. We also want to find a way to offer young people the chance of home ownership.
We want to end rough sleeping. No one should be without a roof over their head in 2021.”
Northumberland’s shadow cabinet member for housing and planning Allan Hepple said he was pleased to hear how Labour’s national ambitions and Labour’s local ambitions complemented each other.
He said: ” I am passionate about housing and planning. In the previous Labour led council we built 300 council houses, a record I am very proud of. Under the Conservatives 1,000 council house homes were promised and not a brick has been laid. It has been easy for private developers to get out of the obligations to build affordable homes on new developments which are so badly needed. This is one of the reasons why planning is important.
“Under a Labour-led council we will engage residents at the beginning of the planning process and we will work to abolish the Conservative government’s Planning Development Rights which have taken the right of local residents to have say in what gets built or altered in their town away, as we saw in Blyth.
“We also believe private tenants should be entitled to a decent home, so we intend to set up a Good Landlord Scheme of council accredited landlords and we will be upping the anti on rogue landlords, taking them to court if necessary.
“Building and retrofitting homes will provide well paid and skilled jobs so we will be working with colleges to set up apprenticeships to ensure we have a supply of trained local people to carry out this work. With these jobs comes independence and dignity and a boost to the local economy.”
Susan Dungworth added: “We had many Labour members on line and many questions were asked. This is a developing manifesto and we want to get it right for everyone in Northumberland.”
If you have a view about housing, homelessness or planning and how it affects you, your family and the county, Labour wants to hear from you. Contact Allan.Hepple@northumberland.gov.uk