'Historic' sale of Gloucester's 5,500 council homes approved
A ‘historic decision’ was made tonight to sell Gloucester’s 5,500 council homes.
Thousands of tenants could have a new landlord if the landmark plan by Gloucester City Council is approved by the Government.
The city council is racked with £62.5million of housing debt and cannot borrow any more money to build new social housing.
Councillors voted unanimously tonight in a 40-minute meeting to approve the plan to sell the stock to Gloucester City Homes.
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Council leader Paul James said: “Tonight is a historic decision but it is also a stepping stone in a long journey.”
If approval is granted by the Government the sale could be made in early 2015.
Deputy leader of the council Jennie Dallimore said: “We must ensure we've got decent homes for people, it is about what is right for the future.”
Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors threw their support behind the plans.
Liberal Democrat group leader Jeremy Hilton urged that the plan should only go ahead if the Government agrees to write off 100 per cent of the council’s debt, but Labour leader Kate Haigh said that could be ‘a big ask’.
She added: “We share the aspiration of wanting the community to have decent places to live in. We are at a point in history where the tide is in favour of these proposals.”
Reacting to the decision, tenant Andy Harley, chair of a resident’s panel tasked with scrutinising the idea, said: “I’m gobsmacked and over the moon. A unanimous decision will send a strong message to the Government that this is what we want.
“We have to roll our sleeves up and get cracking as soon as the Government says yes.”
The sale could allow Gloucester City Homes to borrow the money needed to build more homes, which would go some way in tackling the 5,000-strong housing waiting list in the city.