Labour’s Lisa Forbes: Yes, we do need more social housing

Lisa Forbes
Lisa Forbes
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It is a strange set of circumstances in which a relatively wealthy society, the sixth largest economy in the world, is prepared to accept homeless people living and sleeping on its streets. It is stranger still that, in an effort to alleviate that problem and house some of those who are currently homeless, it is prepared to evict people already housed, thereby making those people homeless as a result.

Yet, that is exactly the situation Peterborough families face with the St Michaels Gate fiasco in Parnwell.

Far be it from me to express any sympathy for a Conservative-led council that has consistently mismanaged the issue of housing. The housing waiting lists are a testament to that, however, the fact is, and this is another odd situation in a wealthy and civilised society, that what the private company which now owns St Michaels Gate is doing is perfectly legal. How can we allow that situation to continue?

To stop this sort of madness happening in the future requires legislation from central Government. Local councils cannot resolve the problem alone without the support from Westminster. It also needs a local MP who is not just going to use a tragic situation as a band wagon to jump on. Local MPs should be routinely advocating on behalf of their constituents and ensuring that their housing needs are met as much as they possibly can be. It is not much use coming out of the woodwork only when there is some publicity to be had. Sadly, it seems as if that is how the current residents of St Michaels Gate are being used.

Stewart Jackson has the ear of cabinet members at the highest echelons of power but it’s now reported that the debate he seeks will not happen on this sorry saga until the New Year, which does absolutely nothing for those being thrown out of their homes just before Christmas.

The Conservatives have a woeful record when it comes ensuring we have adequate affordable and social housing in this city. You only have to look at the amount we’ve spent on temporary accommodation over the years to see the problem is getting worse, but what would you expect when led by MP Stewart Jackson, a man who tweeted, and I quote, “58 new homes for Eye. They need to be good quality to buy, not more social rent and there needs to be proper parking, wide roads and open 
space.’’

That’s all very well if you can afford an executive style house Mr Jackson, but many of your constituents cannot and those families who are being evicted from their homes just before Christmas would jump at the chance of secure social housing right now.

It is only Government policy and legislation that will stop rapacious private companies from using ordinary people and their housing needs as a means to maximise profit.

It would be good if our local MP demonstrated through deeds, that he was prepared to stand up for the most vulnerable in his constituency for a change.