Northumberland councillors at war over affordable homes plans

Rival councillors in Northumberland have come to blows over plans for five years of new affordable house building

A map showing plans for affordable housing
A map showing plans for affordable housing

Hundreds of families could finally be given an affordable home when Northumberland County Council rubber-stamps plans for five years of new house building.

But even before that can happen councillors have begun sniping at each other over the scheme.

The Conservatives claim Labour and the Lib Dems should have backed their own construction plans two years ago, while Labour is accusing the Conservatives of “sour grapes.”

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We want to make properties available for people on the housing waiting list – but also through the construction programme to create hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeships for a local workforce.”

The council is currently building 191 affordable homes on three sites in Blyth, along with 10 new apartments in Haltwhistle. But at a meeting of the council’s Policy Committee next Tuesday it looks set to be confirmed that hundreds more are to be built in Amble, Berwick, Blyth, Corbridge, Craster, Embleton, Shilbottle, Rothbury and Wooler.

The council is also believed to be preparing for further discussions with a number of housing firms in an effort to see 2,000 homes built by 2018.

The move was welcomed by the leader of the council’s Conservatives, Peter Jackson – but he accused the other major parties of a U-turn on the issue.

“Two years ago Northumberland Conservatives laid a formal proposal at the County Council calling for urgent action to tackle our housing need. To the amazement of many, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats refused to support us. Gladly, Labour have performed a significant U turn which we welcome.”

But Scott Dickinson, Labour councillor for Druridge Bay, hit back, saying: “It would be more constructive for Councillor Jackson to back this plan rather than spout political attacks which smacks of sour grapes.”

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