Council failing on housing – convener

THE COUNCIL is failing in its responsibility to provide adequate housing for people struggling to put a roof over their heads.

Convener Sandy Cluness said a near four-figure waiting list coupled with new homeless legislation from the Scottish government were placing an ever greater burden on the council’s housing service.

Speaking at a summit meeting of the community planning partnership on Monday, he said the numbers waiting for social housing were continuing to increase, with 999 currently on the council’s waiting list.

Homelessesness was also on the increase, with 234 people seeking a permanent home in 2007/08.

In August head of housing Chris Medley criticised the SNP administration’s calls for all homeless applicants to be entitled to permanent accommodation by 2012 – a move that effectively abolishes priority needs testing.

The news also comes just weeks after it was revealed the council hopes 200 houses can be built in Lerwick’s Staney Hill as part of a major drive to reduce waiting list numbers.

Mr Cluness said that – and the continuing work of Hjaltland Housing Association, which will be behind at least some of the new Staney Hill houses – was key to helping address Shetland’s housing problem.

“So far I believe the SIC is failing in its responsibility to this community. Currently the waiting list is 999 – it’s actually 600 in Lerwick and the rest are in the country, but there is a demand for house sites for private dwellings.

“There are a lot of people who never go on the waiting list because they knno it will take forever, and move ahead to build themselves. We also have homeless legislation which is only making things worse.”

The number of houses built continues to rise by the 100 a year necessary for the council to meet its long term target. However the rate of new build has slowed from 142 in 2006/07 to 114 in 2007/08.


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