Housing the priority in Labour’s election bid for Monmouthshire
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Monmouthshire council’s Labour group has pledged to prioritise building more housing in their manifesto for the council elections next month.
The largest opposition group in Monmouthshire says building more affordable homes is at the top of its list of priorities.
A council report in the autumn highlighted Monmouthshire is facing a shortfall of 468 affordable homes per year, while there are more than 2,000 people registered on the housing waiting list.
“The most important thing is to try and get everyone in Monmouthshire with a roof over their head,” says Martyn Groucutt, deputy leader of the Monmouthshire Labour group.
The party is supporting a proposal to set up an arms-length house-building company to build homes within the county.
Mr Groucutt says several other councils in Wales are returning to the days of building houses – and Monmouthshire’s Labour group has pledged to join them.
“We would be looking to develop social housing, working with building companies – because the major national house building companies are not going to go away – but we think they have had far too an easier ride in Monmouthshire,” he said.
“We will say that any big development will have to have a proportion of affordable housing.”
The group also wants to see changes to the type of housing being built.
Mr Groucutt says towns in the county have been “filed with big estates” over recent years, which he says have tended to be occupied by a large number of commuters.
But Monmouthshire’s Labour group wants to see homes built closer to where people are working in the new Local Development Plan, as well as housing which will help to address the climate emergency.
The party is also pledging to improve active travel – such as walking and cycling routes – as well as public transport.
“The old idea of the number 23 bus that comes along every five hours on a Tuesday and Thursday is not the way to get people out of their cars,” Mr Groucutt said.
“We will be looking at developing a range of possibilities around public transport such as a subscription service where you almost dial up your own mini bus like you dial for a taxi now.”
On the cost-of-living crisis, the group says it would work more closely with the Welsh Government to provide support to residents.
Mr Groucutt claims the Conservative-led council has been “looking to get into conflict with the government in Wales for political reasons”.
The group also says there would be more consultation with the public and greater acknowledgement of the expertise of council officers.
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