South East housing crisis sparks month-long fact finding tour by Unite

The South East housing crisis will be the focus of a fact-finding roadshow by Unite, the country’s largest union, designed to hear the concerns of local people and campaign for a big boost in council house building.

Unite’s Community section is staging a month-long 15 city/town roadshow.

Unite said the region faces chronic housing problems with sky-high house prices, lack of affordable housing and little protection for tenants from unscrupulous landlords.

According to the National Housing Federation, the South East needs to build 39,000 new homes every year from 2011 until 2031 to keep pace with demand. The Rightmove website says that the average house price in the South East is £362,210 – varying from £492,000 in Surrey to £222,000 in the Isle of Wight. Prices are up 13 per cent since 2013.

According to housing charity Shelter, parts of the South East are defined as `home threat hotspots’, with one in five renters in some parts living under the threat of eviction.

The aim of the roadshow is to give people an opportunity to highlight their concerns and put pressure on local authorities to do more to address the housing crisis.

Unite is setting up stalls to engage with people and conduct a survey of local people on what housing issues are most important to them and will be using an interactive game to get people voting on housing matters.

Unite’s South East community coordinator Kelly Tomlinson said:

“Unite is very concerned about the housing crisis in the South East. One of the biggest obstacles that councils face on building new council homes is that they can’t ‘borrow to build’.

“So councils need to put pressure on the government to change the law to allow them to deliver on building more affordable homes. However, councils could do more to protect private tenants and police landlords whose properties are not up to standard.

“House prices are unaffordable for average families and renting is sky-rocketing. There is a lack of affordable housing and local authorities are not building new council houses to provide the homes that are desperately needed.

“Unite wants to get the general public aware of the myriad issues relating to housing and encourage them to work with the union to campaign for homes for all.”

The stall will give members of the public a ‘golden bean’ which they can use to vote on the issue they are most concerned about including: exploitative landlords; shortage of affordable housing; the Housing Act; and selling off of council houses.

The South East ‘Housing Crisis Roadshow’ is the build up to a regional day of action on Saturday 1 October, where Unite Community activists will be taking part in a mass coordinated action, calling on the government to address the housing crisis that is hitting communities  across the South East.

The roadshow itinerary:

Ramsgate – Monday 22 August – street stall, 11.00 – 13.00. Ramsgate town centre, junction of High St/Kings St/Queen St. Opposite Lloyds Bank CT11 9DL

Crawley – Wednesday 24 August – street stall, 12.00 – 14.00 at the Crawley bandstand

Isle of Wight – Thursday 25 August – street stall, 13:30 -15:30. St. James Square, Newport  PO30 1UX

Gillingham – Thursday 1 September – street stall, 13:30 – 15:30. Outside WH Smith, High Street, Gillingham ME7 1AS

Oxford – Monday 5 September – street stall, 12.00 – 14.00. At Carfax Tower, junction of Cornmarket Street, High Street, Queen Street and St. Aldgate’s, OX1 4AB

Reading – Friday 9 September- street stall, 12.00 – 14.00. Beside Marks and Spencer, near Lawrence Church, Broad Street, RG1 2BH

Bracknell – Monday 12 September – street stall, 12.00 – 14.00. Outside Princess shopping centre, Princess Square, Bracknell, RG12 1LS

Worthing – Wednesday 14 September – street stall, 11.00 – 13.00. Worthing precinct on the corner of Warwick Street/Chapel Road by HSBC bank, BN11 3DE

Milton Keynes – Friday 16 September– street stall, 12.00 – 14.00. Opposite civic offices, 1 Saxon Gate, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ

Bitterne, Southampton – Monday 19 September – street stall, 11.00 – 13.00. Bitterne precinct, Bitterne Rd, Southampton SO18 1DT

Dover – Wednesday 21 September – street stall, 11.00 – 13.00. Opposite Marks & Spencer, Biggin Street precinct, CT16 1BX

Eastleigh, Hampshire – Friday 23 September– street stall, 11.00 – 13.00.  Opposite Domino’s Pizza, Eastleigh, the junction of Leigh Road/Market Street, 2C High St, Eastleigh SO50 5LA

The roadshow has already visited Slough, Hastings and Portsmouth.