‘Use powers to buy back former council houses’, Buckie councillor urges local authority

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A BUCKIE councillor is calling for Moray Council to make greater use of its powers to buy back former council houses to help alleviate the housing crisis.

Buckie councillor Sonya Warren (inset) is urging Moray Council to make greater use of its council house buy back powers.
Buckie councillor Sonya Warren (inset) is urging Moray Council to make greater use of its council house buy back powers.

Councillor Sonya Warren (Buckie, SNP) has urged the local authority to look more closely at the scheme, which she said was first introduced in the region by the previous SNP administration.

She said: “The waiting list for a council house at the moment is huge, with unmet need and pressure at every level, as far as I’m aware.

“I think we need to be looking at using everything at our disposal to try and alleviate this.

“I’ve constantly got people in my ward looking for a house locally, or are overcrowded. There is hardly any movement in three bedroom houses in some areas so buying ex-council houses back into stock seems very sensible.

“It could also have the benefit of keeping a family out of homeless accommodation, giving them a faster route to a more settled home. Homeless and temporary accommodation is far more resource-intensive and costly to the council on many levels.

“It makes so much sense to buy them back as it will be relatively easy to fit in with the existing service and maintenance schedules for the appropriate area. Given the cost of living crisis and the pressures on mortgage interest rates. I am calling on council officers to look at this to see if we can improve the buy back rate and help increase our housing stock.”

Councillor Warren went on to say she had informed that the council were intending to make six open market property acquisitions this year and and 12 each year thereafter, although this quantity could vary depending on the purchase price of the properties concerned.

A Moray Council spokesperson said: “We have a limited budget to purchase around six residential properties this year and 12 each year thereafter from the open market.

“This is being done for specific reasons in line with our Strategic Housing Investment Plan, such as where it meets housing need in pressured areas, or where new affordable housing development is constrained. However, since the provision is budgetary the number of properties will vary according to purchase price. To this point, we have considered individual approaches from those interested in selling to the council and one property is progressing.

“Last year, we completed an exceptional acquisition of 35 properties from the Ministry of Defence – 33 at Pinegrove, Elgin, and two at Springfield Drive, Elgin. We’ve also purchased one privately-owned property at Pinegrove on the open market.

“While we are not at this stage actively soliciting properties, please contact housing@moray.gov.uk for further information.”

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