Homeless 'horror'

YOUNG families could be driven out of North Somerset because of the chronic shortage of homes they can afford to live in. Housing experts say

YOUNG families could be driven out of North Somerset because of the chronic shortage of homes they can afford to live in.Housing experts say there are 5,000 families waiting for a place in the district which they can afford to live in, and 1,000 of these are desperate for somewhere to live.But the millions of pounds expected to be spent on tackling the problem was drastically cut back this week.Tenants say they are 'horrified' that more than £4million was chopped from North Somerset Council's budget for creating homes with affordable rents.The district's tenants' forum said: "We are aware just how many people cannot find anywhere to live in North Somerset as it is too expensive to buy and rent privately."At the moment there are in the region of 5,000 people on the housing waiting list.""In the future our children and yours will have to move away to live, as there will not be anywhere they can afford to live in North Somerset if this is allowed to happen."Originally, £12.5million was planned to be spent on creating affordable homes in the district - money the council received when it sold off all its council houses to North Somerset Housing, which now manages the homes.But that figure has been slashed back to £8million - which is the amount North Somerset originally expected to get from selling off its council homes.Clive Bodley, North Somerset Housing chief executive, said: "I am disappointed at this substantial reduction in resources available to meet the housing need."There are about 5,000 households on the waiting list for homes and 1,000 of these are identified to be in priority need."The ability to provide these people with suitable homes will become more difficult now."When the council homes were sold off, tenants voted for them to be transferred to North Somerset Housing - but only if the money from the sale was ploughed back into creating affordable homes, so families were not driven out of the district.The council agreed to this but only expected to generate £8million from the sale. That figure rose when the homes were eventually sold last year and, before the new Conservative administration came into power, the council said it would put £12.5million from the sale into affordable homes.The new-look Tory council has now decided at a meeting on Tuesday to cut the £12.5million back to the original £8million that was expected to be spent.Around £22million was actually received from the sale but much of this has already been put into other projects by the last administration.Council leader and Conservative party leader Nigel Ashton said: "The figure agreed was £8million - that was the figure mentioned in the (tenants') ballot papers at the time."At no time did this party agree to tie any excess into affordable housing, we always opposed that."That is all we are doing, approving the original £8million and anything in excess is what the council decides to spend on.

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