THE Government has got the ‘wrong end of the housing stick’ says Bolton’s council leader.

Cllr Linda Thomas’ comments came after the Prime Minister made a speech on the housing crisis, criticising developers and promoting building on brownfield.

Cllr Thomas said: “The Government is being deliberately clueless and again the Prime Minister has got hold of the wrong end of the housing stick.”

The council leader said the Government keeps missing the point about affordable homes, Cllr Thomas said: “The Government’s affordability definition that rent should cost no more than 80 per cent average market rate is not affordable. Home ownership is important, however the focus on unrealistic affordability misleads so many.”

She added that Bolton Council was already pushing for developers to build on brownfield land first. Cllr Thomas said: “The Prime Minister is pointing the finger at councils as being a significant part of the problem and every council is being tarred with the same brush. In Bolton we are doing our part. We are committing our brownfield first, but developers to need to hear the crack of the whip.”

In her speech on Monday Theresa May acknowledged the ‘large gap between permissions granted and houses actually built. She said: “I will not rule out any options for ending such practices.”

Cllr Thomas said: “We have called time and time again for tougher penalties on developers to keep off our green field and green belt land and focus on brownfield sites, which they have permission for, but are sitting derelict."

“We set out in our robust allocation plan for Bolton. We have enough land and permissions, with the potential for 7,840 homes, but the fact remains that developers are not following this through. In addition, we have 153 sites with the potential for 8,600 homes that have been identified but currently do not have permission.

“The Government scrapped cash to get brownfield sites up to standard, make it safe and ready for development. The current situation is difficult, however the Labour Council’s bold borrow to invest strategy, with our £100 million intervention, will go some way to getting brownfield sites in the borough back into use.”