Empty homes in Dewsbury and Mirfield spark debate on 'housing crisis'
Questions over three empty homes in Dewsbury and Mirfield sparked a debate over the “national housing crisis” which sees more than 14,000 people on the council house waiting list in Kirklees.
Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) quizzed Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor over a pair of fire-damaged back-to-back homes and a detached house which had been left empty for years.
Coun Bolt has called for the council to take action over two houses left burnt out and abandoned on Prospect View, Pinfold Hill, since 2013.
And at last week’s cabinet meeting, Coun Bolt also raised questions over Rose Cottage, a family home that overlooks Cooper Bridge roundabout.
The council bought Rose Cottage in around 2018 pending possible improvements to the Cooper Bridge junction. Works are still in the pipeline and the house has remained empty.
Coun Bolt described Rose Cottage as a “lovely family home” that could be let on a short-term basis for two or three years.
Coun Pandor accused Coun Bolt of lacking vision and said the bigger question was about the “national housing crisis”, not one or two individual properties.
Coun Pandor said there were more than 14,000 people on the council waiting list and successive governments had failed to address the problem of supply.
He said the Right to Buy scheme – where tenants can buy their home at a discount after living in it for a certain amount of time – had taken houses out of the council stock.
“Some people will say (that scheme) is the right thing to do, others will say it’s the wrong thing to do, but right or wrong you have to make sure the supply is still coming through,” said Coun Pandor.
“We have failed to address that imbalance between supply and demand and we have not put enough houses back in, certainly around social renting.
“As a council we need to do a lot more but we don’t have the tools, the resources, the commitment from national government.
"Irrespective of which party has been in government, we have failed to grasp the nettle.”
Coun Pandor said he had been to look at the fire-damaged houses and they were in private ownership and the council had no powers to take action.
Cabinet member for town centres, Coun Eric Firth (Lab, Dewsbury East) said the council was to speak to the owner of the properties.