Minister Healey visits housing schemes

Michael Hunt

Housing minister John Healey visited Merseyside and Wigan to see what local councils are doing to meet the housing needs of their communities.

He visited current developments underway to provide more affordable housing for local residents, and heard firsthand from local people about housing needs in the area.

This series of visits to projects in the boroughs of Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Wigan comes a week after he announced nearly £17m to build 253 council homes in the North West, including almost £1m for Wigan Council.

The minister also announced over £2.5m funding yesterday to kick-start stalled developments in Gilead Street, central Liverpool.

He said: "Last week I announced I was giving £17m to councils in the North West to help build the homes we need, on top of £6.3m funding for affordable housing in the region through the Government's affordable housing programme. It's also a shot in the arm for the construction industry creating much needed jobs, and built to some of the toughest ever standards this is good for the environment and means lower fuel bills for the families who live in them.

"This cash injection, along with plans I have already announced to give councils greater control of their housing finances and more leeway in how they run their waiting lists, means councils are better placed than for decades to meet the housing needs of their communities."

The minister has also called on councils in the North West to follow the lead of the five councils in the region, including Sefton, who have joined the national crackdown on tenancy cheats who unlawfully sublet their council home or housing association home for a profit, denying homes to people who really need them.

He added: "Councils that sign up to join this crackdown on fraud will get government backing with a share of £4m to set up their own anti-fraud initiatives, and practical advice on how best to beat the cheats."

The sites John Healey visited included:

  • St Elizabeth's Place in Bootle, a formerly derelict industrial site that is now a development of two and three bedroom homes and apartments next to the historic waterway of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal
  • Bus tour of Klondyke Estate
  • Rimrose Hope Primary School as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme
  • Fusion 21 Building Skills Centre in Knowsley
  • Tour of North Huyton New Deal for Communities
  • Tour of Liberty Place housing development in St Helens
  • Tour of Heyeswood Extra Care development in St. Helens
  • Visit of community Centre and Heritage Gardens in Wigan

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It’s a pity he didn’t go to Toxteth – which is still a mess and so close to Liverpool city centre

By City dweller