West Norfolk Council urged to review empty homes plan, despite eight per cent drop

Candidates for the Norfolk County Council Elections May 2013 ENGANL00120130426152803
Candidates for the Norfolk County Council Elections May 2013 ENGANL00120130426152803
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Officials have been urged to review the strategy to cut the number of empty homes in West Norfolk, despite the number falling by nearly eight per cent in one month.

Latest figures from the borough council show that there were 792 empty homes in the borough in September, down 63 on the previous month.

The authority says that figure equates to just over one per cent of the total housing stock in West Norfolk.

But, during Thursday’s full council meeting, opposition leader John Collop questioned whether more could be done to accelerate the downward trend.

He insisted he was not criticising the ruling Conservative administration on the issue.

But he added: “I just cannot imagine why people would have a home that stays empty when it could be put to good use. I just think we need to re-look at the whole thing.”

But Adrian Lawrence, the authority’s cabinet member for housing, said he felt there was little more the authority could do to tackle the problem.

He said: “We have a long-term empty homes strategy and we talk to these landlords and do our best but, at the end of the day, its down to the individual that owns the home and whether they want it to remain empty.

“We cannot change that but, when they come to us, we will give them the best advice we can.”

Meanwhile, the council’s figures also reveal the number of people on its housing register has dropped by almost a third in the past year.

There were 1,612 people on the register at the beginning of October, compared to 2,494 at the same point in 2014.

Mr Lawrence’s report ahead of the meeting said that a further 45 people had been housed in Housing Association accommodation during September alone.

Another 164 had been accepted onto the register, but 25 others were rejected as they did not meet local connection criteria.

One was rejected due to being over the upper income limit for assistance.