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Plea to end scandal' of empty homes

PUBLISHED: 09:50 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:24 25 August 2010

CHARITY bosses have urged action on empty homes after council chiefs revealed they are forced to hand over lists of empty properties to possible squatters.

CHARITY bosses have urged action on empty homes after council chiefs revealed they are forced to hand over lists of empty properties to possible squatters.

Workers at Bromley council admitted they have handed over lists of their empty homes to individuals when asked to do so under the Freedom of Information Act.

And only last Friday Lambeth council confirmed they gave a similar list to a suspected squatter.

But a spokesperson for a homeless charity said these revelations should prompt council chiefs into action on their scores of empty properties.

A spokesperson from Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people, said: "It is bad enough to have thousands of empty homes when the economy is buoyant but it is a scandal that they remain empty now in a recession - a time of increasing housing need.

"Now more than ever we need an innovative and determined approach to tackle the lack of supply by both national and local government - using empty homes is an obvious route to take."

A member of the collective Advisory Service for Squatters, based in Whitechapel, said there are so many vacant buildings for squatters to choose from that people hardly need a list.

He said: "We feel quite strongly about the fact that ten of thousands of houses in every borough of London should be in the public domain because it is an ongoing scandal and tragedy.

"We have got buildings sitting empty whilst councils have hundred of thousands of people on their waiting lists.

"Squatting is not the best or only solution but it is an option."

These latest list handovers follows a ruling by the Information Tribunal in May 2007 between Bexley council and Colin England.

The Deputy Chairman Peter Marquand ruled that workers at the council should provide the list of all the empty properties which were not owned by individuals.

Bromley council were unable at the time of going to press to disclose how many of these requests they have had.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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