Hands off council homes

Strong message for Prime Minister David Cameron, although some are worried that pensioners are hogging family homes.

RESIDENTS across the Axe Valley have criticised David Cameron’s suggestion that council homes should no longer be ‘for life’.

The Prime Minister last week hinted there could be a radical shake-up of housing. He suggested tenants’ right to a council home should be reviewed every five years.

He argued the system would then focus more on what people actually need – such as fewer bedrooms when children have flown the nest.

But the move has not been welcomed by all, with residents saying people could face losing their homes.

In Seaton, John Barrington-Rowell argued people had a right to security and it was just another ploy by the government to save money – but in the wrong area.

He said: “I feel people should have security behind them.

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“As long as they pay their rent and don’t bring the area into disrepute and are good tenants, then let them carry on living there.”

He added, he knew people who had lived in council houses for over 50 years and were distressed by the thought of moving.

Others, who did not wish to be named, said they had lived in council houses and felt the move was unfair – with the risk of people losing houses they have lived in all their lives.

Lynn Wellman, from Lyme Regis, said council housing was needed more than ever and called for it to be reserved for local people in the area.

She said: “Some people on really low incomes with families would not have enough money to get a mortgage.

“I have three jobs, my husband works full-time and we have two grown-up children, but we struggle.

“For young couples today, I don’t see a way of being able to get a house in Lyme Regis. People from other parts of the country tend to get housing here, but I feel it should be for local people.”

Others had mixed feelings and agreed with elements of Cameron’s suggestion.

In Axminster, Tim Boyland said: “I can understand what he’s saying.

“If people come into money, then council homes should be for more deserving people.

“But some people have lived in those houses all their lives and would like to stay there for the rest of their lives.

“It’s a difficult one, really.”

Terry Barker, from Shoe Mate in Silver Street, Axminster, said: “Housing should be available to those who have a real need for it.

“However, the size should also reflect their needs.

“If their circumstances change and they no longer need a big house, I feel it’s fair to downgrade them.”

Kevin Bennett said: “I don’t see how anybody can disagree with it.

“You have got young families cooped up and housing should be made to fit people’s needs.

“If someone has more rooms than they use, I believe they should give it up for someone who needs it – and move to a smaller property.

“Millwey Rise is an established estate.

“There are many elderly there and I’d hate to imagine how many empty bedrooms there are, which is a shame for people who need them.

“But there should be an obligation for the government to continue to house people.”