Housing policy could change for the better

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SONY DSC

Fraserburgh and district councillors have faced regular questions of late from members of the public on Aberdeenshire Council’s housing allocation policy, with the issue brought up once more at this month’s Invercairn Community Council.

On Monday night, councillors Charles Buchan and Brian Topping were in attendance at the Invercairn Community Council.

Following from last month’s meeting, at which it was suggested that the community council write to Aberdeenshire Council with their frustrations of the current allocation policy, amid allegations that drink and drug users have been causing problems for their neighbours, Councillor Buchan reminded community councillors that he and his fellow councillors could not get involved with house allocation.

Prior to the Invercairn meeting, councillors Ian Tait and Charles Buchan had attended the September meeting of Fraserburgh Community Council, at which the same issues and problems had arisen.

Councillor Buchan told community councillors in Fraserburgh on September 18: “There are historical reasons why local councillors are not allowed to have any involvement in allocation.”

The councillor added that the amount of time a person spends on a waiting list for a house has no effect on how much allocation points they are awarded.

Councillor Tait commented that Aberdeenshire Council “have very little discretion” about who gets awarded a house, adding that he was of the belief that there was “not enough common sense in the council’s current housing allocation policy and too much red tape”.

Councillor Tait added: “I can see no reason why any problematical applications should not be brought before the Area Committee.”

At this week’s Banff and Buchan Area Committee meeting, housing was again discussed as the director of Aberdeenshire Council’s housing and social work department delivered a report to the council. The draft of the local housing strategy, which was earlier shown to councillors in an informal meeting in September, provided the Banff and Buchan councillors with comments that were raised in the previous meeting.

Comments included concerns that “no minority ethnic group should get priority due to their ethnic origin,” and that “Gypsy travellers should be treated the same as everyone else”.

One comment read: “It is unacceptable that good tenants have to put up with badly behaved neighbours and, if a person is persistently causing a nuisance, they should lose council support,” while another suggested “people with drug/alcohol/behaviour issues should only be given short-term tenancies until they get help/treatment or prove that they are going to be suitable tenants.”

Councillor Brian Topping said at the Area Committee that tenants with drug or drink problems should be given all the help they need, but added that he would not give them a secure tenancy until they had resolved their problems by agreeing to accept the help available to them.

In the background to Mr Johnson’s report, it suggests that the Local Housing Strategy should be submitted to the Scottish Government before the end of the year for approval.