Sell-off bid safe as houses, says tory

South Shields Conservative Party candidate Robert Oliver
South Shields Conservative Party candidate Robert Oliver

South Shields Tory candidate denies right to buy plan is ‘catastrophic mistake’

Michael Farr, executive director for development at Isos Housing, an association with many properties in South Tyneside, has hit out at the Tory sell-off plans.

The proposals echo Margaret Thatcher’s move in 1979 to allow council tenants to buy their homes under her Right to Buy scheme.

Mr Farr said being forced to sell off housing stock, potentially including flats at Holborn House on the Mill Dam in South Shields, would reduce the association’s ability to raise funds for new building projects.

However, Robert Oliver, fighting the South Shields seat for the Tories at the general election on Thursday, May 7, believes housing association tenants in the town he hopes to represent would benefit from the plan.

He said: “The Right to Buy has already helped around two million families to realise their dream of owning a home.

“By now extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants, we will help more people who want to move on and up the housing ladder. Our proposals will increase house-building, increase home ownership and reduce waiting lists.

“The Right to Buy gives something back to families who have worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules.

“It allows them to do up their home, change their front door and improve their garden without getting permission from officialdom.

“It gives people a greater sense of pride and ownership, not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood.”

Right to Buy allows tenants to buy their home at a discount, but, at present, it is only available to tenants in local authority properties and some former council hous.

Mr Oliver added: “Extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants in England will end this unfairness and mean up to 1.3 million more families get the chance to own their own their own home.

“We will extend the Right to Buy from 2016, and homes sold to tenants will be replaced on a one-for-one basis.”

Under the proposals a brownfield regeneration fund would be established worth £1bn over four years.

The fund will be available for local authorities in England to bid for on a competitive basis to put forward additional brownfield land for housing use.

It will also enable them to clean up derelict or contaminated land, and provide infrastructure to open up inaccessible brownfield sites.

The other candidates in South Shields are Emma Lewell-Buck (Labour), Gita Gordon (Lib Dem), Shirley Ford (Green Party), Lisa Nightingale (Independent) and Norman Dennis (Ukip).

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul