A new, fairer housing allocation system proposed by a Conservative councillor moves closer to being implemented across Lewes District after receiving widespread backing at last night’s Full Council meeting (Mon 24 Feb).

The Town Local Connection Policy was proposed by Cllr Sharon Davy who feels that the present scheme is unfair to those seeking council housing in the towns of Lewes, Peacehaven, Newhaven and Seaford.

Cllr Davy (Conservative), who represents Chailey, Barcombe and Hamsey Ward, proposed a Notice of Motion to be included in the forthcoming Housing Allocation Policy Review.

“It’s all about localism”, she explained to the meeting. “Statutory guidance on social housing allocation, published in December 2009, spoke of a fair and flexible approach to housing allocation policies. While we have been adopting that for rural areas, and the policy is imperative to keep our villages alive and help the younger generation find homes, it is time to expand it to embrace our four towns as well.”

At present, Lewes’ Housing Department does not operate a scheme to give preference to applicants and families living in the district’s towns. “Insofar as the law permits, our policy should do so, just as it does for our rural villages”, argued Cllr Davy. And her colleagues agreed as the motion was passed overwhelmingly, and is set to be implemented into the authority’s new housing allocation policy review procedure.

“This local connection criteria would benefit residents living in our towns as well as the district as a whole”, Cllr Davy said. “My hope now is that the council’s Cabinet incorporates it when it  considers future housing policy but I am concerned because the ruling Alliance were split, with Labour members voting against and at least one Lib Dem abstaining.”