Urgent action needed to tackle Shropshire's empty homes
Urgent action needs to be taken to tackle the 1,700 empty homes in Shropshire, it has been claimed.
Councillor Roger Evans, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Shropshire Council, said there had been a home vacant for more than 25 years in his Longden ward.
He told the council’s People Overview Committee that he was part of a task and finish group set up to tackle the issue four years ago, but nothing had been done.
He said: “It is beyond a joke now for many instances of empty homes. There is one in my ward which has been empty for 25 years.
“When I go to parish council I will again be asked what is happening with it and I will again tell them that nothing is happening.
“It is not good enough. The task and finish group was set up and made recommendations and now we are back to square one by the looks of it.
“Someone need to take urgent action on what we are doing to take action against these homes.”
And Councillor Peggy Mullock, chairman of the committee, said she agreed that something needs to be done.
“I have one in my area which people are up in arms about,” she said.
“It is not fair on those who live next door that these houses can be owned by someone but left to fall into disrepair.”
The committee agreed to ask for Robert Macey, portfolio holder for housing, to attend the next People Overview Committee to explain exactly what is being done to tackle empty homes.
Karen Collier, regulatory services operations manager at the authority, said there are 1,329 long-term empty properties in the county and a further 455 which are empty and exempt from paying council tax.
Ms Collier said the council is currently working to secure these homes and ensure they do not become a problem.
She said there are also financial incentives for the council in bringing them back to use.
She said: “Returning empty homes back to use can have a positive impact on the local community, providing much needed homes and improving the street scene and reducing anti-social behaviour.
“Every home returned to use generates additional new homes bonus for the council.
“Under the scheme, the Government matches the council tax raised for each property brought back into use for a period of four years.
“Direct intervention by regulatory services to return properties to use generates new homes bonus for the council.
“Homes and other buildings left empty are a significant wasted resource, both to their owners and to those in housing need across Shropshire.
“They can attract vandalism, anti-social behaviour and can be detrimental to an area.”