THE leader of Wirral Council's Conservative group, Cllr Ian Lewis, says it is time to build modern council houses in order to help the borough's homeless.

AS council services gradually resume, there is one area where we can learn from the pandemic: how Wirral's homeless and rough sleepers were taken off the streets and into accommodation.

Within weeks of the Government instructing councils to find accommodation for the homeless, Wirral's Housing Options Team and partners had managed to provide temporary and permanent housing for around 112 people - part of 15,000 people were moved into accommodation across the country

If we can manage to achieve that during a pandemic, we should not accept anything less the rest of the time.

Last month, the Ministry of Housing announced a further £105 million to support people who were previously homeless.

Short term grants are all well and good but, as a council, we need a long-term solution.

Back in 2005 (under a Labour Government), Wirral's 13,100 council homes were transferred to a newly established housing association that pledged to be 'tenant led'. Partly, this was because the council could not afford to bring these homes up to the new 'Decent Homes Standard'.

15 years later and Wirral not only had at least 120 people who were, until March 'homeless' but almost 9,000 families in unsuitable housing and on the (long) waiting list for a new home.

As a result, some of our most vulnerable people have little choice but to move into Houses in Multiple Occupation. This means sharing kitchens, bathrooms and living space.

Whatever your politics, this situation cannot be allowed to go on.

Between 1997 and 2010, councils across the North West built just 260 new homes. Since 2010, this has improved slightly to 1,070 but still none have been built in Wirral.

It's time we, Wirral Council, put that right.

It's time we built new, modern council homes on Brownfield sites, managed by the council and, along with partners, providing the support services that some of the new tenants may need.

This would also send a message to the housing associations that leaving 120 people homeless and almost 9,000 families on the waiting list is no longer acceptable.

Next month, Wirral Council has the opportunity to start doing things differently.

In September, the Council's one-Party Cabinet is scrapped, replaced, by new, all-party committees that meet in public. One of these will, at the request of the local Conservative Councillors, be a Housing Committee.

If you agree that Wirral should start building council houses and you want the new Housing Committee to get on with it, tell us.

And, because few things focus the minds of councillors like a petition, we're starting a petition to push for new council houses on brownfield sites in Wirral.

If you agree, sign it here