Dozens of council homes standing empty for up to five years in Milton Keynes

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Dozens of council-owned homes in MK have been standing empty and neglected for up to five years, the MK Citizen can reveal.

A total of 45 homes are classified as long-term voids - unoccupied for more than six months.

The figure comes after a probe from Tory councillors, who have accused the Labour administration of failing to keep their own house in order while so many families are homeless.

Labour say the properties are mainly empty due to significant structural damage or the need for “substantial works” to bring them up to a re-lettable standard.

Properties that have been empty for years include Buckland Lodge former care home in Netherfield and The Laurels in Wolverton. Buckland Lodge has a subsidence problem.

Tory councillor Catriona Morris said: “I’m genuinely shocked. Last winter we had up to 100 people sleeping rough in MK yet the council has 45 of its own properties sitting empty.”

Ironically last month the council announced plans to penalise private owners of empty homes in MK by charging them 50 per cent more council tax.

They also agreed to spend £8m buying 40 private properties from the open market to boost the council’s stock of 11,000 homes.”

“Why haven’t they used this cash to repair their own empty homes? If it’s an issue about repairs, why don’t they use the chunk of the £180 million reserves that is housing tenants’ money. I’m amazed by the warped priorities of this council,” said Cllr Morris.

Labour council leader Pete Marland said: “If we had no empty properties ever, we’d have no homes for people to move into. MK Council has over 11,000 homes, so the empty rate of less than 1 per cent is to be expected.”

Pete said most homes are re-let quickly after they become empty.

“Some are easy to do, but sadly some homes are not left by previous tenants in an acceptable state and require more work. There are a small number of longer term empty properties, such a The Laurels in Wolverton, that require investment or have significant issues. We are currently bringing forward a business plan which will provide a long term solution.”

He added: ““If we had no empty properties ever, we’d have no homes for people to move into. MK Council has over 11,000 homes, so the empty rate of less than 1 per cent is to be expected.”

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