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Labour hit back in row over Worcester's affordable homes
A FRESH row has broken out over Worcester's affordable housing decline - with one councillor admitting "nobody has done a good job".
As your Worcester News revealed on Tuesday, the number of new affordable homes built in the city has plunged 35 per cent in a year.
Worcester MP Robin Walker has labelled the fall "shocking" and says the old Labour administration, which was in control during the fall, has "lost credibility".
The subject came up again during a meeting of the performance, management and budget scrutiny committee at the Guildhall.
Councillor Geoff Williams, the former Labour deputy leader, turned up clutching a copy of the Worcester News article.
"A great deal of excitement has been generated by our MP, who called it shocking, despite the fact the number of affordable homes built each year depends on the level of activity in the house building industry," he said.
"More houses are scheduled for completion in 2014/15 and the figure will go up - no doubt the MP will claim this is his doing.
"The last administration backed £1.2 million towards new affordable homes and the bidding process for that money only ended in May, so his criticism is a bit previous.
"It is not shocking, indeed if anything shocks, it is the general shortfall in affordable housing in this city over the last decade."
Tory Councillor Stephen Hodgson, who chairs the committee, sprang to Mr Walker's defence.
"The only thing we can compare is the number of properties actually made available, and the last year it has been lower than expected," he said.
He also told politicians views were always bound to be "subjective" given the importance of the issue.
The number of affordable homes built in 2013/14 was 76, four below the council's target of 80 and below the 117 in 2012/13.
Councillor Richard Boorn, the former cabinet member for finance, said: "The target this council put forward is irrelevant because in reality it bears no relation to what the city actually needs.
"We really, really need to actually set a target of what Worcester needs to meet the demand, instead of setting a low figure and saying 'oh, look we built one extra house this year'.
"Let's not kid ourselves, nobody has done a good job here."
There are around 2,300 people on a waiting list for affordable homes in the city.
Most affordable homes come about via agreements the planning committee makes with developers.