Plan to sell city's 5,500 council houses passes first hurdle
A multi-million pound sale of Gloucester's entire council housing stock moved one step closer tonight.
Gloucester City Council's cabinet members gave the thumbs up to a sale of around 5,500 homes to Gloucester City Homes tonight.
The move cannot go ahead until the full council approves the plan at a meeting on Thursday night. Even then they will need to seek approval from the Government.
But tonight's decision, reached in just 12 minutes, signals the first step in getting rid of the housing stock and the £62.5million debt attached to it.
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The city council's housing debt is so large that they have reached the 'debt cap' meaning they cannot borrow any more money from the bank to build new council houses.
Not being able to build more council housing is bad news for the 5,000 people desperately seeking a new home and currently on the city's burgeoning waiting list. Some 2,000 of those are single and want a one-bedroom house, of which there is an even more desperate shortage.
But selling the stock to Gloucester City Homes removes much of the debt, allowing the housing provider to approach the bank to get the money needed to build the city's first new 'council' houses since the 1970s.
That is the main reason tonight's cabinet members backed the proposal, which has been in the making for two years.
Deputy leader Jennie Dallimore said: "We need to build a future for tomorrow by regenerating our communities."
Leader Paul James added: "Gloucester City Homes have done an excellent job in maintaining our stock and that is why it makes sense to nominate them as our preferred landlord."
Councillor Colin Organ, cabinet member for housing, health and leisure, commended the plan to his fellow councillors, who unanimously supported it. He said: "We need to ensure a decent standard in the housing stock and we need to regenerate and build new homes on our estates for future generations at the same time as tackling deprivation."
Thursday's full council meeting takes place at at 7pm at the city council's offices in North Warehouse, at Gloucester Docks, and is open to the public.