Houses stay empty despite 4,000 waiting

PUBLISHED: 02:56 25 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:31 24 May 2010

OVER 4,000 people in Sedgemoor are waiting for council housing, only 50properties are available - and some of those are standing empty because of 'ludicrous' rules

OVER 4,000 people in Sedgemoor are waiting for council housing, only 50properties are available - and some of those are standing empty because of 'ludicrous' rules. Young families, disabled people and elderly residents have been left out in the cold because of age restrictions on properties owned by Sedgemoor District Council.But the council has now agreed to lift the restrictions on some properties.Councillor Paul Herbert has led the fight to remove the rules which affect properties such as Houlgate Way flats in Axbridge and Millbourne Road flats in Cheddar. Cllr Herbert said: "The council owns thousands of properties but only 40 or 50 are available at any one time. "Some of the buildings have age restrictions placed on them to stop younger people moving in next door to elderly residents and vice versa, but this means that perfectly suitable housing is being left empty because they don't fit the criteria."Cllr Herbert said: "It just seems ludicrous to me. A 50-year-old could sit in a property next to elderly residents and fit in with the community. But if the age restriction on that house is 60-years-old he won't be allowed to move in, even if he was disabled and therefore had a greater need."Only the other week a 55 year old couple with disabilities were denied a home because it was too difficult to house them in a community that were not the same age or from the same social background." Cllr Herbert doesn't want to target a specific group of people in his campaign, rather he would like to see people housed based on their need. Several councillors have agreed that age restrictions need to be lifted on the majority of council houses but some are still wary.Cllr Herbert said: "We have had a lot of backing from our fellow councillors but there are still one or two who are afraid that by lifting age restrictions, we could be dumping people anywhere."I want to make it clear that drug addicts won't be housed next to elderly residents. We are catering for housing need and getting people into houses they can feel are their homes.

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