HOUSING campaigners staged a protest outside Cambridge letting agent Belvoir yesterday after it emerged that it sent a pre-election message to its tenants claiming that a vote for Labour could leave them homeless.
Local residents were left furious last month after an email signed Belvoir Peterborough and Cambridge was sent out during the election campaign warning that Labour government policies “would be extremely detrimental” to the tenants. The email goes on to claim that Labour’s plans to abolish tenants’ fees would mean there would be “a very strong possibility that many landlords will either increase rents to recoup their costs or they will withdraw from the market and sell their properties … there is a very strong possibility that you, and thousands of other tenants, could lose your homes.”
The demonstration, called by the Cambridge Unite Community branch, is the latest in a series of protests at local letting agents in what campaigners describe as a “housing crisis” in the city where average house prices are above £400,000.
Unite members were joined by local residents and housing campaigners in calling for rent controls and for the council to build “thousands of new homes to provide city residents with affordable housing.” Speaking at the demo, Cambridge City Council’s executive councillor for housing Kevin Price said: “Beware of ‘right to buy 2’ and pressure being put on local authorities to sell off high-value stock on the open market to fund the £77,000 discount.
“I wait to see whether the Tories follow their own logic and extend the right to buy scheme to those in private rented accommodation, although somehow I doubt they will.”
Mr Price was referring to the Tory pledge to extend right to buy to those living in housing associations, with a discount of £102,000 to those living in London and £77,000 discounts for those outside the capital.
Newly elected Labour MP Daniel Zeichner criticised the “ill-thought out Tory plans to sell off housing stock” and said he was “deeply shocked” at Belvoir’s electoral intervention. He went on to say that housing is one of his top priorities as an MP in a city “where nearly half the residents rent their homes.”