‘Sub-standard or overcrowded York council housing is heartbreaking’
Councillors say that York is suffering from a long-term decline in housing services after hearing ‘heartbreaking’ stories from residents.
Opposition Labour group councillors have written to the authority’s chief officer to express their concerns about the city’s council houses.
They say there are numerous problems, from long-term overcrowding to extended waiting times for crucial repairs.
Labour has produced figures saying that the number of ‘non-decent’ council homes has leapt from three in 2015 to 832 in 2019-20.
Labour Group deputy leader Cllr Claire Douglas said: “I represent Heworth residents and some of the casework I receive linked to sub-standard or overcrowded council housing is heart-breaking.
“The figures show that there has been a steady decline in standards which is causing huge problems to a growing number of council home tenants.
“At the Executive meeting last week we were told by the lead member for housing that tenants need to be patient. It was the final straw.
“Many have been waiting for months, sometimes years, for repairs to be carried out or for suitable accommodation to come available for their families, with both situations are often seriously affecting their health.
“We firmly believe the system is broken which is why Labour is taking the unusual step of writing to the council in the hope that it acts as a wake-up call to senior officers and ruling councillors that things must change urgently.”
Labour’s housing spokesperson, Cllr Michael Pavlovic said that the Lib Dem-Green ruling coalition had approved “well over £200,000 in cuts to housing repairs this year.
“At the same time she is overseeing a huge increase in the number of non-decent council homes, hundreds of council homes remaining poorly insulated leading to unacceptable standards of warmth for tenants, and thousands living in fuel poverty.”
Supporting housing staff
Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for housing, said: “I am saddened by the depths to which this Labour opposition will stoop in order to try to discredit this administration.
“The comments I made at Executive were in the spirit of supporting council housing staff who are also people, workers and York residents themselves and are working very hard to deal with the aftermath of a global pandemic and a continuing Covid situation with numbers of staff self isolating which impacts on staff capacity at the same time as there is a surge in demand.
“I would have expected Labour to be supportive of these comments. I wouldn’t claim for one moment that there haven’t been some delays with repairs or that some residents are struggling with difficult situations.
“To be honest the housing service has been neglected by successive administrations and a great deal of positive work is now going on to improve the situation including a new IT system and improvements to ways of working but this can’t be done overnight in the midst of a global pandemic.
“I would far rather see Labour working collaboratively on these issues.”