George Ferguson has accused his Labour rival for mayor of “financial illiteracy” over his calls to halt an auction of council-owned properties.
Marvin Rees has called for a temporary halt to selling off council properties as it emerged 15 are due to go under the hammer in April. The former public health manager wants a moratorium put in place until after the election when he promises to review the practice of auctioning council homes, if elected.
Fifteen council properties are due to be sold to private buyers on April 20 at an auction organised by Hollis Morgan.
“Bristol is facing a housing crisis and, rather than being sold to private developers, these properties would be better off being refurbished and let to council tenants, or given to housing associations and charities,” Rees said.
But mayor George Ferguson said the standard sale is expected to raise about £2.25 million from “unfit council homes” to be reinvested into the current stock along with 75 more new council homes which currently are under construction.
Rees criticised Ferguson for his approach to housing and called on him to halt the auction to allow a review of the practice to take place after the election in May.
Rees has promised to build 2,000 homes a year if elected. “If Bristol is to flourish, people must be able to afford to live here and live well,” he said.
After he was elected in 2012, Ferguson said it was his ambition to build 1,000 affordable homes by 2016. But a year into his first term, he admitted the target would not be reached.
Mayor Ferguson told Bristol24/7: “The city council generally does not dispose of council homes other than through right to buy over which we have no choice.
“There are, however, a small number of properties each year which, due to their location, poor quality and excessively high level of repair needs, are sold for reinvestment in our affordable housing stock.”
He said the Bristol Homes Board, which he set up, will be meeting to discuss how the council can get the best value out of stock being disposed of.
He added: “No one cares more than I do about making more homes available and affordable. As an architect well versed in the design and build of social housing I would urge any mayoral candidate currently saying that that they can build more homes, more quickly, to share with us exactly how they will do this.
Under Rees’ plans, the council would aim to build a total of 8,000 homes (3,200 affordable) by the middle of 2020, amounting to an average of 2,000 (800 affordable) a year.
The council recently moved to create a municipal housing trust which would channel money raised by Ferguson’s sale of the port into a fund to build thousands of new homes in Bristol.
Pictures from Hollis Morgan of some of the homes going under the hammer.
Read more: Bristol mayor candidates 2016