Friday, May 20, 2005

Action for Housing presses for definite reply from Chief Minister

Government's housing policy came under criticism from Action for Housing again yesterday after the Chief Minister responded publicly to their criticism of Government’s delay on announcing low cost housing and flats for rent.

But they welcomed the new points system, with reservations.

“His reply failed to give definite or even approximate dates for the construction of low-cost housing, the flats for the elderly and most importantly for the construction of the 150 dwellings for rental at Devil’s Tower Road,” said the lobby group.

Reacting to the initial statement Peter Caruana, Chief Minister, in an interview with GBC radio (Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation), stood by the Government’s commitment despite delay.

Mr Caruana, explaining the delays, said that the Government had found it was still carrying out repairs to Harbour Views and Brymptom Estate and Montagu.

“Things can be rushed through or we can hand the projects over to developers who make profits and charge higher prices and then cut corners. Or they can be done by the Government, as we are doing, at no profit and then at lower cost,” said Mr Caruana saying that he had said at the last election that he would concentrate on health and housing and it would be for the people at the next election to focus if he had honoured this. “That is the time to judge,” he said.

“The manifesto commitment is for a term, not a particular month.”

Challenged by the interviewer Christine Clifton saying that the Government had not done more than Bishop Canilla House and that there had been a lot of luxury developments he replied:

“We are not re-running the election campaign nor are you the Opposition spokesman on housing.”

Action for Housing did however welcome the new pointage system announced by the Government and said it thought that this will be fairer that the present one because it will take into account the length of time applicants have been on the waiting list.

“This will enhance the process of allocation of those already on the waiting lists who will not be adversely displaced from their positions by those applicants who enter the waiting lists from the pre-list.."

However the group adds that the new system “will be academic for as long as the availability of flats for allocation remains as scarce as they are today."

"As long as this remains the case the waiting time for the allocation of government housing will remain inordinately and regrettably long.”

Related Article:

19 May 2005 - Government announces a significant change to the Housing Allocation Scheme

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