With such a strong focus on the London mayoral election, it is hard for others standing for election in the rest of the UK to get a look in at present. But there are many other vitally important contests where housing issues will be an important factor. On May 3 elections will take place for 131 English, all 32 Scottish and 21 Welsh councils – full list here.
Birmingham will be a crucial bellwether election, where the contest is close and Labour is challenging the Tory/LibDem Coalition, but even here the media seems more interested in the referendum on whether to have a mayor than it does in the issues that directly affect people’s lives, like housing and education.
Labour’s election Manifesto for Birmingham points out that the city needs to build about 70,000 new homes (to rent and buy) by 2026 to meet population growth. There are already 26,000 people on the council’s own waiting list and homelessness is rising. Yet the number of net housing completions within the city is at its lowest level for decades.
Labour in control would adopt policies such as:
- using the council’s own land bank for housing-led regeneration.
- sustaining Labour’s Decent Homes Programme which led to a substantial reduction in the number iof sub-standard homes in the city.
- in the private rented sector focusing on regulation and enforcement of standards against rogue landlords through a licensing system.
- devolving services, including housing management, to constituency level.
- maintaining secure tenancies whilst supporting the use of probationary tenancies to ensure that new tenants respect their new homes and neighbourhoods.
Labour Leader Councillor Albert Bore condemned the failures of the current council, saying:
The Tory Lib Dem coalition running Birmingham City Council has failed the residents and businesses of our city – unemployment is rising, particularly amongst our young people; educational planning is inadequate; older people have no certainty on future care provision; and there has been little progress in meeting the demand for new homes.
And argues that an important part of Labour’s approach will be to argue for proper priority for England’s second city:
A Labour Council will challenge all political parties, together with all the MPs that represent the city, to make a united bid to government for Birmingham to have its fair share of resources.
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