Manchester Council accused of social cleansing

In another of Manchester’s heated council meetings, the sole opposition member, Liberal Democrat John Leech, unravelled the council’s plans to build 2,500 homes in the city centre, not a single one of which is guaranteed to be affordable.

The Manchester North development, which was recently approved without a single Labour councillor questioning the lack of affordable homes, is one of several large developments across the city. But not a single one of the proposed homes is guaranteed to be affordable, in what has been slammed as a ‘Labour-style social cleansing.’

When the former MP turned sole opposition councillor John Leech asked Councillor Bernard Priest whether he could guarantee that any of the 2,500 homes would be affordable, Mr Priest said he ‘could not give that guarantee’.

He added that he “anticipated the council would continue to be led by Labour politicians for a considerable number of years’, but still wouldn’t commit to making any of the 2,500 new homes affordable.

Liberal Democrat councillor John Leech has hit out at the proposals accusing the council of “Labour-style social cleansing based on who can afford to live in the most desirable parts of the city.”

He said: “This council continues to put profit before people. It is unacceptable that so many people have got their life on hold while this council continues to prioritise expensive houses for sale and making profit from land instead of genuinely affordable homes.”

South Manchester’s MP of ten years, John Leech, criticised decisions in 2013 when plots in Chorlton on Darley Avenue for 86 homes were sold off by the council to private companies for profit, rather than saved for affordable housing.

Mr Leech added: “This city is in desperate need of good quality, genuinely affordable family homes near existing public transport links and infrastructure, and we need to start taking this seriously. To build 2,500 new unaffordable houses is an insult to the 14,000 people currently on waiting lists across the city.

“If this council is committed to building genuinely affordable homes then why are they refusing to guarantee even one of these 2,500 houses will be affordable?

“This council put effort into help for first-time buyers but has shown little interest in affordable homes to rent. Why, in a development as large as these in West Didsbury and the City Centre, should not a single home, not one, be up for affordable rent?

“We need a balance of affordable homes to rent and buy across all of our communities in the whole of this city, not a Labour-style social cleansing based on who can afford to live in the most desirable parts.”

The councillor, who was on fierce form despite receiving a barrage of personal comments and mocking from the 95 strong Labour group, also criticised the council for recently approving a housing development on Cavendish Road, West Didsbury without insisting on any houses being available for affordable rent.