Relocating Redbridge residents out of the borough ‘not on the agenda’, says housing chief
Plans to follow neighbouring London boroughs in suggesting the relocation of residents in large numbers across the country “are not on the agenda for Redbridge”, according to the cabinet member for housing.
With news emerging last week that Newham Council was looking to relocate tenants up to 160 miles away, Cllr Robin Turbefield was quick to dismiss any suggestions the same may happen in Redbridge.
The move by the neighbouring council comes in response to government caps on housing benefit and could be seen to be “politically motivated”, according to Cllr Turbefield.
He said: “It’s strange the Newham situation would come out at the same time as the election.
“We certainly place people outside the borough, but within the local area if we have to. We go out as far as Rainham in Havering.”
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The council currently has about 4,500 properties in the borough and is attempting to utilise temporary accommodation, though opportunities are becoming increasingly limited.
Cllr Turbefield added: “The problem we have at the minute is that the borough is very popular so the amount of properties for us to rent are getting smaller.
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“People are renting privately and other boroughs put people here, including Newham.”
Council leader Cllr Keith Prince agreed the borough has “problems with housing”, though he maintained that the council would not “force people out”.
He said: “If people are happy to move outside the borough and they have family outside they would like to live closer to that’s good for all of us.”
Action must be taken sooner rather than later to prevent the borough from reaching “bursting point”, according to Labour group leader Cllr Jas Athwal who believes moving residents out of the borough may be inevitable.
He said: “It’s not someone playing political games, we have not got the houses here.
“It’s not a case of whether we would like to see people moved elsewhere, but people need to be housed and when there is no alternative it has to be done.
“Redbridge is struggling, but we must agree to the supporting infrastructure before we talk about building new houses.”