Party campaigners clash on housing

PUBLISHED: 12:52 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:38 25 August 2010

A PARLIAMENTARY candidate accused opposition members of scaremongering over council housing rent hikes. Spencer Drury,

A PARLIAMENTARY candidate accused opposition members of "scaremongering" over council housing rent hikes.

Spencer Drury, Conservative candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich and leader of the opposition on Greenwich council, accused the Labour Party of frightening residents by warning that they face losing their property if the Tories win the next election.

A leaflet titled 'Housing News' was circulated to Greenwich West ward residents saying that under the Conservatives, weekly rents could go from £78 to £225.

It read: "Conservative plans... could include ending secure council housing tenancies and increasing rents to market levels."

Rent is set to go up by 1.6 per cent in the coming year, as agreed by cabinet last week and set to be approval by full council next Tuesday.

Last year rent rose by three per cent.

Mr Drury said: "Labour is resorting to scaring residents to get votes and many are truly worried by the false descriptions of our policies.

One of my residents had sleepless nights over this scaremongering.

"I can assure them that Greenwich Conservatives have no plans to increase rents to market levels.

"As someone whose family lived for many years in council accommodation in Eltham, I can assure them that while I am leader, I would not support an end to secure tenancies in our borough.

"Not only have they got a policy of raising rents above inflation, the Labour government is going to end all subsidy for council housing.

"Despite this they are muddying the issue by claiming it is the Conservatives' policy.

"This is simply treating people like idiots. I am shocked and disgusted at their tactics."

Last Tuesday, the National Housing Federation said there was a "chronic shortage" of affordable homes for people on social housing lists across the capital.

Latest figures released by the group show that 19,755 people are on the list in Greenwich, although this is down from 33,715 households since April 1, 2008.

Government money from the Local Authority New Build Programme helped work start on 63 new council homes this week.

Bexley borough has 16,222 people on its list, an increase of around 770 people since April 1, 2008.

The charity Shelter has predicted it will take Bexley just under ten years to clear its council house waiting list.

Both the Greenwich and Woolwich Labour Party and councillor Maureen O'Mara, whose name appears on the leaflet, declined to comment.

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