Concern over council plans to borrow £41m to boost housing

Coun Tony Williams
Coun Tony Williams
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Blackpool council’s opposition leader has praised the plan to regenerate empty resort houses, but said he was concerned about increased borrowing.

Conservative group leader Tony Williams was speaking after the council announced it wanted to borrow another £41m to drive forward its efforts to buy up eyesore properties through its arm’s length housing company Blackpool Housing Company and rent them out sustainably.

Coun Williams said: “The regeneration of empty properties is a great idea. Better quality homes for rental tenants has to be something all political parties strive to achieve. From what I have seen the refurbishment of these properties is of a very high standard and I understand the leader of the council has recently become a tenant.

“Last year the company made a small profit but I do understand that some court action had to be taken to recover unpaid rents.

"However that's the risk in renting accommodation something that many private landlords have discovered as more and more are now placing previously rented properties up for sale after experiencing bad tenants.

“I personally would have liked to see more of the existing improved properties taken up before borrowing more money to convert more properties.” He said around 20 were empty costing around £2,500 per week in lost rent."

The council has said the weight of the debt burden would be carried by the housing company.

Coun Williams added: “The council appear to be in a blind, borrowing mood taking our overall town debt to well over £300m. Whilst improving neglected properties may be aesthetically sensible It could be time for a more cautious and responsible attitude."

See also: Blackpool Council plans to borrow £41m to drive its housing improvements forward