One of the most poignant aspects of the Christmas story is that of a young family unable to find shelter to allow the mother to give birth.
At a time when we all wish to be with family and friends, we should spare a thought for the 280,000 homeless people who the charity Shelter estimate will be sleeping rough or living in temporary housing or hostels on Christmas Day.
If we are to have any hope of bringing this number down, we desperately need as a country to build more affordable housing for people to live in.
I’m really proud that Ipswich Borough Council is playing its part in this.
Last Monday I visited the latest completed development of 17 new council houses on Cauldwell Hall Road to see how the new tenants are settling in.
This is a well-designed scheme containing houses with good insulation and solar panels and attractive open space.
Straight from Cauldwell Hall Road I went to the former Tooks bakery site for the “topping out” ceremony on the first of the houses being built there. This is a much larger development of 60 new homes which should start to be occupied from the second half of next year.
On Friday the council’s house-building company Handford Homes submitted planning applications on five small sites across Ipswich for a further 34 new houses.
This will bring the number of new homes built by the council up to 255 which is very positive but needs to be put into perspective.
The council is still losing more council houses through Right To Buy sales than it is currently able to build. We estimate that around 90 homes will be sold this year. Due to Government rules on the level of discount and how the sales receipt can be spent, it takes three sales to provide the council with enough money to build one new house.
We are still sadly a long way off the point where we can actually increase the total number of council houses and ensure all families in Ipswich have decent, affordable housing over the festive season.
Wishing all readers a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.