Sparks flew in the House of Commons today as the York MP clashed with the Prime Minister over the city’s ‘out of control’ housing crisis.
Rachael Maskell, Labour’s York Central MP, said the situation in York was critical, with “whole families crammed into tiny box bedrooms”.
But Theresa May hit out at the council – run by her own Tories in coalition with the Lib Dems – over its failure to sort a Local Plan.
‘Damp and mouldy homes’
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“York’s housing crisis is out of control,” Rachael Maskell told the PM. “Whole families crammed into tiny box bedrooms – hundreds of damp and mouldy council homes – and street homelessness up 15-fold since 2010.
“Mr Speaker, my constituents don’t want warm platitudes from the Prime Minister. They just want warm homes.
“So when can they have the social housing they so desperately need – and York’s Tory-Lib Dem council have completely failed to deliver, as does her strategy?”
Mrs May replied: “This government is making changes to ensure we are building more homes in this country. I would also say to the honourable lady, one of the issues we have had to look at is making sure that local councils are producing Local Plans.
“I believe that York hasn’t had a Local Plan for 50 years. I suggest she speaks to her council about it.”
Lack of affordable homes
After the clash, Ms Maskell said: “The Prime Minister lays the blame for York’s housing crisis clearly and squarely with the council. She is right they should be doing more to provide the social housing York’s families desperately need.
“It is time that the mirror was held up to highlight the lack of affordable homes to rent and buy in York. I will not cross by on the other side as people in my constituency struggle to have their basic housing needs met.
“It is an absolute scandal that the housing crisis is deepening, and that is why I have called on the Prime Minister to intervene.”
But leader of the Conservative Group on City of York Council Ian Gillies defended the authority against the criticism of both the Prime Minister and MP.
“Our administration’s Local Plan is just about ready to be submitted to the Government’s Inspectorate, and if Ms Maskell is so concerned about a lack of house building in York, perhaps instead of attempting to undermine our submission she might actually make a positive contribution to this city and support it, imperfect in her eyes though it may be,” he said.
“Our administration had to start all over again after the previous Labour administration was unable to produce a Local Plan that had the support of the residents of York.
“We have listened to residents, to businesses and to other stakeholders and have put together a draft plan that most elements of the city are able to get behind, and it is disappointing that yet again all Ms Maskell can do is play party politics with an issue that’s of crucial importance to our residents.”