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Former Labour cabinet member defends affordable housing record
A FORMER leader of Worcester City Council has defended his party's track record on affordable housing - saying "Rome wasn't built in a day".
Councillor Roger Berry, one of Labour's best known veterans, held the cabinet role with responsibility for housing over the last year when new affordable builds plunged 35 per cent.
Cllr Berry, who lost his cabinet position earlier this month after a Tory coup, said the severe criticism from Worcester MP Robin Walker is unfair.
As your Worcester News revealed yesterday, Mr Walker said the 76 affordable homes built in 2013/14, compared to 117 the previous year, is "shocking".
Cllr Berry said: "How many affordable homes get built each year is directly related to the housing market.
"As Robin knows, Rome wasn't built in a day.
"Our first six months in control, and the figures from that period directly reflect what was going on from the last six months of the previous Conservative administration.
"What I've done is laid the foundations for future success, and from that I expect to see an increase in affordable homes next year."
He also said most affordable homes come about from Section 106 agreements - deals struck between city council planning officers and builders in return for permission for a development to start.
He also said the £1.2 million the old Labour leadership signed off for new affordable homes between now and 2016 is something that will pay off in future years.
That cash is being made available to housing associations, and the deadline for bids only ended last month.
"The reality is that most affordable homes come from Section 106s, and that is directly influenced by the housing market," he said.
"Robin needs to start looking at what is happening nationally, you've only got to look at the rise in homelessness to see the Government needs to do more."
Mr Walker insists the old Labour leadership "utterly failed to deliver" and says the data is "the last nail in the coffin" for them.
"This is not some dry academic issue but something that really affects people’s lives," he said.
"I am glad that we now have a Conservative leadership team on the city council and a real focus on delivery."
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