Brighton and Hove City Council leader Mary Mears has been accused of trying to "score political points" by pushing Labour ministers to approve an ambitious plan to renovate thousands of homes in the area.

Coun Mears said this week's annual Labour conference in Brighton offered the perfect opportunity for the Government to give its backing to a scheme to improve many of the city's crumbling council homes.

Over the summer it was revealed that 6,981 of Brighton and Hove's council homes - 56% of the total stock - needed urgent repair work.

Under Coun Mears' proposal, 499 of the council's 12,315 homes would be leased to a specially created council-controlled not-for-profit company, which would use the homes as leverage to raise £45 million in bank loans needed to do up thousands of properties across the city.

However the Department for Communities and Local Government has expressed concerns about the way the funding would be raised.

John Denham, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, accused her of campaigning for a Tory government in Westminster that would slash his department's budget.