A REQUEST to suspend the right for council tenants to buy their homes in the city will be submitted to the Government following a rowdy vote.

A letter will go to the Department for Communities and Local Government asking for new powers for councils to combat the housing crisis, including suspension of right to buy, greater borrowing limits and the right to institute rent controls.

The debate at last night’s meeting of the city’s full council because so heated, at one point mayor Mo Marsh threatened to suspend proceedings if members would not stop shouting over each other.

Councillor Clare Moonan, lead member for rough sleeping, said the country was in the midst of a national housing crisis and Brighton has the second highest number of rough sleepers of any authority in England.

She said: “I urge the Government to think outside the box and help us fix the problem.”

The suggestion to suspend right to buy, a policy introduction by Margaret Thatcher in 1980, was met with fierce opposition from Conservative councillors.

Cllr Moonan, proposing the motion, told the chamber at Brighton Town Hall: “Many of the homes let under right to buy appear straight away on the private market and they are not affordable.

“So we’re looking to stop right to buy in places like Brighton and Hove.”

Her motion, co-authored by the Green group, specifically states the letter to the DCLG should call for legislation “allowing councils to suspend the right to buy where an affordable housing shortage exists”.

Supporting her Labour colleague, Councillor Emma Daniel said: “We don’t ask for Government interference when things are working for people in this city but we ask for this because of the totally broken housing system.

“The Government must help us help our residents.”

Councillor Anne Meadows, Labour, chairwoman of the housing committee, said: “We need to suspend right to buy as many of these properties especially in my area are turned into expensive HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy).”

The idea of suspending right to buy led to howls of outrage from Tory councillors, who were also unhappy with what they described as “government-bashing” in the wording of the motion.

Councillor Mary Mears questioned whether Labour had taken into account the significant funds raised from the sale of council houses – money which is then spent on renovating the authority’s property estate.

And Councillor Lynda Hyde said the policy was a crucial mechanism to help the less well off accrue capital and those who owned their own homes took better care of them.

To cries of derision from the Labour seats, she added: “You can see as you drive through, some of these houses are mini palaces and some are not.”

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have allowed councils to suspend right to buy.

Several including Cardiff have taken up the opportunity.

No council in England has suspended right to buy and it is extremely unlikely the city’s request will receive a positive response.