A former Sheffield Council leader has demanded the authority speeds up housebuilding and ‘puts shovels in the ground’ to ease the city’s housing crisis.
Lord Paul Scriven, who was head of the council from 2008 to 2011 and now sits in the House of Lords, criticised the council for blaming the current shortage of council homes on the government.
The Star reported last week that Sheffield Council has sold 672 council houses in five years under the right-to-buy scheme, while an average of 8,000 people a year bid for a home.
Lord Scriven said: “For the council to try to say there has been a housing crisis from the last four years is ludicrous and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
“As council leader, I was desperate for us to be able to invest in house building but the rules didn’t allow for that.
“Now the rules have changed – the coalition has changed the rules.
“Sheffield has been handed £23 million from the New Homes Bonus for council homes across the city.
“It has invested some of that and we see houses being built in Sheffield for the first time in years.
“I want to see that speeded up and the council building houses faster and more effectively.
“It’s very easy to blame everything on the government but what people want to see is the council putting shovels in the ground,
“Sheffield has plans for homes, but it’s not actually getting shovels in the ground and building speedily.”
Coun Harry Harpham, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, said: “I’m pleased to confirm house building in Sheffield is at its highest level since 2010, when the impacts of the recession caused activity to slump across the country.
“The work we’re involved in helping people to build their own homes is really exciting, and we are just one of only 11 authorities that were awarded vanguard status for the national Right to Build pilot project. We have also approved plans for a further 9,000 new homes and have successfully reduced the number of empty properties by over a third in the last four years.”