MEMBERS of the regional Labour Party have come out in support of leaseholders as it put forward its housing priorities ahead of next year’s borough council election.

Picket Twenty leaseholder Kevin Brown, whose story was previously published in the Advertiser, spoke to the party at a meeting in Overton on September 19, explaining in-depth the leasehold system residents are fighting against.

Other housing plans the North West Hampshire Labour party are putting forward include building new council houses in Test Valley, holding developers to account for unfinished works and forcing housing associations to act responsibly before looking into bringing their housing stock back into council ownership.

North West Hampshire Labour chair Andy Fitchet said: “Leasehold fee increases are a national scandal.

“We have the situation on Picket Twenty where residents are paying council tax for the upkeep of the roads, street lighting and open spaces and paying a maintenance charge, to the developer, for the upkeep of roads, street lighting and open spaces.

“This is scandalous.

“We have been working on Picket Twenty as a party for 18 months now, and making good progress, but we need to keep the pressure on.”

Other parties standing in the borough next year have reacted to the move, with Test Valley Conservatives calling Labour’s plan to buy back council homes “farcical”.

A spokesperson said: “The idea that Labour can just compulsory purchase great swathes housing in Test Valley is farcical – it would cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of pounds. Where do they propose to get that money from?

“Instead, we are getting on with building new homes and are proud to have delivered more affordable homes in Test Valley over the last five years than any other Hampshire authority, including Labour-controlled Southampton and Lib Dem-controlled Eastleigh.

“Every single one of those 1,320 additional affordable homes has helped families across Andover and Test Valley. We are committed to continuing our record of exceptional delivery, using innovative and targeted schemes to provide homes for local families and helping those starting out [to] afford their first home.”

Andover Liberal Democrats however has backed Labour’s plans and support of leaseholders.

Chair Luigi Gregori said: “Leaseholding for residential property is a feudal practice and should go. It does not exist in Scotland and I cannot understand why it exists here, especially in new builds. Housing is about homes and families. The sooner our councils build and run social housing the better. We need to demand better from government and councils for our community.”

North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse is due to meet this week with Picket Twenty housing developer Persimmon Homes and leasehold residents over the concerns aired.

Mr Malthouse previously told the Advertiser it was “unacceptable” for residents to be exploited unnecessarily through increasing fees and ground rent, and that government measures are being introduced to hamper the practice.