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Petition calls for more council housing to meet clear demand

A Witney resident is calling on West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) to use some of its millions of reserves to build more council houses in the area.

Luci Ashbourne officially launched the petition outside the council offices on Tuesday, urging the council to fund building more houses for vulnerable families.

The petition says that some residents are spending months in unsuitable emergency accommodation and families are being separated because they are being priced out of the rental market.

Miss Ashbourne said: “This petition is an opportunity for the community to send a clear message to the council that the current housing crisis, given the reserves we have access to, is neither acceptable, nor necessary.

“Everyone in the community should be able to live here without being financially oppressed, or held back from aspirations of a better life.

“Safe, affordable and secure homes should not be a privilege of the wealthiest in our community, but a fundamental right for all.”

Deborah Robson-Grey, who set up action group Homes4All after finding herself homeless in West Oxfordshire, is supporting the campaign.

She said: “We found ourselves in emergency and temporary accommodation for 10 months, costing the public thousands because no suitable housing was available or planned.

“I feel very strongly that public money should be better spent on building and converting properties using monies that WODC already has unallocated in reserves into much needed solutions for a crisis that has been building for many years in this area.”

In a statement, WODC said it is looking into appointing a housing property manager to find homes that the council will buy to accommodate vulnerable families.

The statement continued: “We are continually working to house clients in the most suitable accommodation for their needs, taking into account local connection, priority and family network, as well as the size of the property required.

“The council recognises housing affordability as a key issue and seeks to ensure through the planning process that new affordable homes are provided through qualifying developments.”

The petition is running until December 24. If it gains more than 1,500 signatures then it will be debated at a full council meeting.

To sign the petition on the council website go to www.westoxon.gov.uk

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