New council housing could be coming back to Pendle after a gap of 12 years.
Pendle Borough Council has set up a Scrutiny Task Group to look into whether it could and should go back into providing council-owned housing in order to provide for local needs.
In 2006 the 3,444 houses then owned by the council were transferred to Housing Pendle, which has now become part of the Together Housing group.
The task group follows a motion which was successfully moved by Liberal Democrat Coun. Tony Greaves, and seconded by Labour Coun. Wayne Blackburn, at the last council meeting, and passed with all-party support.
Coun. Greaves said: “Together Housing is now a large housing company, as it calls itself, covering areas across the North of England. It is far removed from the locally controlled and accountable body called Housing Pendle when the council transferred its housing stock, let alone the local estate management under elected councillors.
“At the same time there are clear social housing needs in Pendle that are not being catered for. It is well worth looking at whether a modern form of locally provided and accountable housing can play a part in providing for our needs in the future.”
The leader of Pendle Council, Conservative Coun. Paul White, welcomed the group's work, but added that the council still provided social housing through its partners.
Coun. White said: "I'm happy for the policy and resources committee to have a look at it in light of new powers that the Government has introduced.
"We have several organisations in Pendle that provide social housing. Pearl Together, which includes Barnfield Construction, Together Housing and Pendle Council, is one such group.
"In a way, then, Pendle Council has never really stopped providing social housing. It will be interesting to see if this new system offers anything different to what we already have. Any extra borrowing would have to be taken into account as I would not want to see that increased."
The motion read:
“This council notes the Government announcements on October 3rd, 2018, and in the budget that restrictions on council borrowing to build new council housing were being lifted or eased.
“Council further notes the problems in developing a significant programme of new building for social housing in Pendle to cater for identified needs.
“Council therefore resolves to consider the desirability and practicalities of building new council housing in the borough to complement existing and new provision by housing associations.”
The all-party task group is expected to call for a number of expert witnesses to provide evidence. The task group has been asked to provide an interim report within four months.
Coun. Greaves, who was Pendle Council’s first chairman of Housing more than 40 year ago, added: “I hope this is an issue where the parties on the council can work together in a constructive way for the benefit of future generations in Pendle.”