“Somerset desperately needs a change of political priorities” says Bridgwater Labour candidate

Bridgwater South Labour candidate Leigh Redman looks at solutions for social housing in the wake of Hinkley C.

Labour’s Leigh Redman, leading the charge against the Tories in Bridgwater South, has lifted the lid on one of Somerset’s most pressing social issues – a severe shortage of affordable housing.

Since the Con Dem coalition has spent its two and half years in power protecting the super-rich, pushing the poorest into destitution and making life harder for the average-earning majority, it’s not surprising that people are finding it more and more difficult to afford the roof over their heads.

Across Somerset, and especially in towns like Bridgwater, major housing problems are lurking just round the corner. We’ve seen decades of underinvestment in social housing. The system was struggling even before Coalition-brand social vandalism began to bite. Now, as the numbers facing financial hardship substantially grow, County Hall needs to take action – and it’s something Leigh Redman is taking deadly seriously.

‘Housing crisis brewing’

“There’s a genuine housing crisis brewing in Somerset”, said Leigh. “The average house price is now many times the national average wage, and rent prices, already steep, and set to rise even further. This isn’t good socially, economically, or for the county at large”.

Bridgwater is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the South West. In the past month, as the Coalition’s Bedroom Tax kicked in across the county, punishing hundreds of families just for having a spare room, Bridgwater was forced to open its first Food Bank in eighty years.

Leigh is deeply concerned about how increasing hardship is going to affect an already delicate housing situation: “many Bridgwater people will simply be priced out of their local area, limiting life chances and encouraging further deprivation – and some Bridgwater residents already fall into the most deprived 5% of people in Britain. With the imminent arrival of hundreds of Hinkley C workers, most of whom will be receiving wages way above the local average, this will majorly impact both house prices and rent bills in and around the Bridgwater area”.

‘Homes for life’

To effectively tackle such a crisis, we need a political turnaround: “I believe we need a large-scale social house-building scheme, with central government and County Council collaborating to plug the housing gap. The project would be long-term, and all upfront costs could be returned by rents paid by tenants. Tenants would not be allowed their allocated property but – assuming they comply with tenancy agreements – they should have a ‘home for life’ “.

“Rents should be affordable for those working at the minimum wage – or hopefully the living wage – this would help safeguard local people not working for Hinkley. This would also boost the all-important local construction industry and the local economy more generally. Most importantly, it would give much-needed security to those who will never be able to afford their own home.”

Somerset needs a change

Somerset desperately needs a change of political priorities – but you can be sure that change isn’t going to come from the Conservatives or the Lib Dems. Tories in County Hall are pushing the Coalition’s austerity agenda and bringing hardship to thousands across the region. And when the Lib Dems jumped into bed with Cameron’s Conservatives, they sentenced millions of British people to five years of suffering.

On May 2nd, there’s only one viable alternative in Somerset – and that’s Labour. In Bridgwater South, vote for Leigh Redman, working locally for you – fighting for a future that works for all.


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