Chorley’s housing system has been slammed as ‘totally flawed’.
That’s the damning conclusion from Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle, who says more people than ever from outside the borough are being handed homes, ahead of people already living in Chorley.
Mr Hoyle says he has been inundated with letters from constituents who say they are being unfairly treated, and he has now declared war on local housing associations, saying they are ‘failing in their promise to cater for local people’, as emergency meetings were called from all sides.
Mr Hoyle said: “My surgeries and mailbag are dominated by the issue of housing.
“Local people cannot get a house in Chorley yet there appears to a free-flowing inward migration from outside our borough.”
The system run by Chorley Council is through Select Move, an open’ waiting list run by the council along with Preston Council and South Ribble Council, and a number of other partner agencies including Chorley Community Housing (CCH).
The system works on a bidding basis, where people are put in order by need and available properties are posted online. The person who best fits the requirements met by a property wins.
But Mr Hoyle says the system means people already living in Chorley are given no more priority on houses in the borough than those living elsewhere.
He said: “I have recently been contacted by a family of two
adults and four children living in a two-bedroomed Chorley Community Housing (CCH) home. They were told they were top of the list to move into a four-bedroom house. One came vacant, but they lost out to someone living in Bolton.
“This has happened to them twice.
“The first time they were beaten to it by a family from Preston.
“This is just one of many examples where people from Chorley are being ignored at the expense of people from outside the borough.
“They are upset, and I am highly concerned that we don’t have a priority list for local families. The system is totally flawed.”
The Guardian understands an urgent meeting has been called today between the MP, Chorley Council and CCH, to talk about a way forward.
Mr Hoyle said he had previously raised the concerns with the local housing provider, but nothing had been done.
He said: “It’s totally unacceptable. Families in Chorley should be served first. It seems to me that we are getting more and more people coming to us. The system is failing people in Chorley, and it has to be urgently rethought.
“We know Chorley is a great place to live, and I don’t have a problem with the people who want to live here and want to move to Chorley from elsewhere, but we need to be serving the people of Chorley first.
“I have asked the council to address this issue as a matter of urgency, and I am seeking a meeting with the housing associations and council leaders to ask for immediate action to be taken to provide housing for local families.”
A CCH spokesman said they were asked to go into the SelectMove agreement by Chorley Council as part of the transfer of stock.
The spokesman said: “CCH is a participant in SelectMove because it was a contractual requirement of the stock transfer from Chorley Council.
“We are partners in SelectMove along with all three local authorities and most of the registered social landlords in central Lancashire.
“The policy, which is jointly owned and was developed by all the partners, does not prevent households from outside Chorley from being rehoused in Chorley.
“If Lindsay Hoyle believes any case involving CCH has been handled in a way that is not in line with the SelectMove policy, then we will be happy to review it if he sends us the details.”
Coun Adrian Lowe, who oversees housing at Chorley Council, said the council had looked at housing as a priority in Chorley since taking over power in May. He said: “Since we have come into power this year, the Labour administration has identified that there has previously been a potential problem with Chorley people getting access to Chorley properties.
“A review of the Select Move allocations policy is already under way, and we have been assessing the size of the problem, and what improvements can be made.
“As that review is being carried out we are already seeing an increase in the number of properties being offered to Chorley people.
“We want to see this continue because we feel very strongly that local connection is an important part of an application for a property and we expect local housing associations to support this.
“We want to make sure that someone who has always lived in Chorley, or has a job or caring responsibilities here, can stay in Chorley if they wish to do so.”