Labour Borough Councillors have secured funding for a new Empty Homes Officer post to speed up the process of bringing empty and abandoned homes in Bedford back into use.
At a meeting of the Bedford Borough Council Executive on Wednesday evening it was agreed that a two year post would be created using spare money from the ‘carry over’ budget.
Labour Executive members, Sue Oliver, Colleen Atkins and Shan Hunt, had pressed for the extra funding.
Over 500 properties in Bedford Borough have lain empty for between 12 months and twenty years, despite the housing shortage which is driving up rents and house prices. Neglected properties can fall into dangerous states of disrepair and become a nuisance to the owners of neighbouring properties, attracting squatters, vandalism and vermin.
Almost 96% of long term empty homes are private sector properties. Bedford Borough Council has to track down the owner, and can offer advice and support to bring the properties back into use. As a final measure they can issue a Compulsory Purchase Order. Properties in Broad Avenue and Edward Road in Bedford have recently been purchased in this way.
Cllr Oliver said: “It makes no sense for houses to stand empty and fall into disrepair when there are so many people in need of a home. Unfortunately cuts imposed by the Coalition Government on local authorities have meant fewer staff available to tackle this vital issue. By ensuring an officer is employed to specifically tackle this important task we hope to bring more properties in the Borough back into use more quickly.”
26 Edward Road, Bedford