Just yesterday The City of Edinburgh Council handed over the keys to the first new council home built for a generation to the new tenant. But what does that simple fact reveal?
It was in the Thatcher era that the Right to Buy legislation was introduced, meaning that many council homes moved into private ownership. The scheme allowed qualifying tenants to purchase their homes from the council at a discount. The property leased yesterday is the first of 1400 which are now being built by the council under their 21st Century Homes scheme, but there has not been a programme of building council homes in Edinburgh in recent years.
“Whilst I welcome any build of council homes for a city desperate for affordable housing, it should be noted that in 2006, the city had 23,194 affordable Council Homes. After 5 years of an SNP/Lib Dem administration who have demolished or disposed of nearly 2,500 council homes, we are left with an all-time low of 20,808 affordable council homes.
Some of the most disadvantaged communities in Edinburgh have been devastated by having hundreds of family homes demolished. Barren, undeveloped sites, like those in Sighthill and Pennywell, are scattered across the city, with build unlikely until 2014! The effect on local communities as well as on local businesses is destructive.
Recently I met with the Chief Executive to look at any way possible of speeding up the build process to ensure we can provide warm, safe and affordable homes and ensure communities and businesses can thrive in difficult times, as a matter of urgency.”