HUNDREDS of council houses across the city are empty, despite a waiting list of more than 10,000 people, it has been revealed.

Brighton and Hove City Council confirmed that 266 houses are currently empty and there was an "unfortunate backlog".

It said the problem follows the Covid lockdowns which had led to a “shortage of available tradespeople”.

The council said it was a “priority” to make council houses available for new tenants as quickly as possible and it has employed more staff and contractors to ensure this happens.

Of the 266 empty council houses in the city, 185 are being repaired currently. The council has let 117 empty houses to tenants in the last three months.

But Mary Mears, Conservative councillor for Rottingdean Coastal, said the council has “no long-term plan” and criticised the way council houses are managed.

The Argus: From left, councillors Anne Meadows, Mary Mears and Dawn Barnett in HoveFrom left, councillors Anne Meadows, Mary Mears and Dawn Barnett in Hove

She said: “We have a huge waiting list and the work is not being done. Something is fundamentally being managed wrong. There is no real oversight, there is no long-term plan.

“The bottom line is, it’s about management. We have an administration and whether they’re in a coalition with Labour or just the Green administration you have to manage the service and if you’re not capable of managing the service then clearly there are serious problems. This is the effect you get across the city.”

One house in Egmont Road, Hove, is thought to have been left empty for over a year. The council has now confirmed this house “was completed last month and the property is now let”. The Argus saw contractors entering the same house on November 15.

The Argus: One of the empty property's gardensOne of the empty property's gardens

The council cited lockdowns, a shortage of workers and delays with agreeing terms of new contracts for refurbishing empty homes as the reasons for houses being left empty.

A council spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we do have a backlog of empty council properties following the Covid lockdowns.

“This was caused by a shortage of available tradespeople and unavoidable delays with procurement of new contracts for refurbishing empty homes.

“The number of empty properties we have changes daily. As of November 16, there were 266 empty council homes in the city, including 29 recently bought back under our Homes Purchase Policy. We’re carrying out repairs to 185 of these properties.

“We’ve employed more staff and brought in more contractors to carry out refurbishments and speed up the turnaround of our empty homes. It is a priority to make empty council homes available for new tenants as quickly as possible.

“This is having an impact, with 117 properties let in the past three months and the number of empty homes down from 311 at the end of March.”

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