Council should set up a house-building company to solve Northampton’s homes shortage, says former mayor

Brian Markham believes the bporough council should follow similar sized authorities in setting up its own house-building company.
Brian Markham believes the bporough council should follow similar sized authorities in setting up its own house-building company.
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A former mayor says Northampton’s social housing shortage could be solved if the council followed others across the UK in setting up its own house-building company.

Councillor Brian Markham, (Lib Dem, Westone) who was recently re-elected to the borough council in a by-election, is set to propose the motion during his first full council on Monday, September 19.

A fortnight ago, a Freedom of Information request revealed Northampton Borough Council had sold a whopping 332 of its social homes under the Government’s Right to Buy scheme - but only acquired 11 since 2012.

It has not started building any new homes for five years and currently around 3,000 people are sitting on the waiting list for a house.

Councillor Markham said: “Many councils are addressing this problem by setting up housing companies to build homes and develop under used sites.

“Housing companies have already been formed by local authorities in places as varied as Peterborough, Barnet, Leeds and Guildford.

“I hope colleagues will be able to put politics aside so we can explore this solution locally.”

A council-run housing company could use Right to Buy receipts and permitted borrowing to develop council-owned land, Councillor Markham said, which he believes would speed up the building process.

Recent shock figures have revealed the council spent £292,934 housing families in temporary accommodation between April and August this year, around £130,000 more than the same time last year.

However, recent opposition motions, including bids to support 50 refugee families in Northampton, have failed to win the full support of the Conservative majority council.

Leader of the Lib Dems on the council, Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Kingsthorpe) said: “We are looking for cross-party buy-in to this idea. We are talking about setting long-term goals to be carried forward by whichever party is in power at The Guildhall.”