102 homes across the borough of Tunbridge Wells have been left empty for years.
14 homes in Tunbridge Wells have been sitting empty for 10 years or more, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.
The figures, uncovered through Freedom of Information requests, show that there are over 214,000 homes across the country that have been empty for six months or more. Of these, locally in Tunbridge Wells 102 had been empty for two years or more, 31 for five years or more, and 14 have stood empty for at least ten years.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has failed to make use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO), powers used by local authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least two years. This is despite the fact that some local families have spent Christmas without a home.
Nationally only 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales that responded (the powers do not apply in Scotland) had used an EDMO in the past five years. Of these only six had used one in the past year.
Liberal Democrat councillor, Ben Chapelard, leader of the Opposition on TWBC, said:
“At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a scandal that so many homes locally are sitting empty.
“These homes could be turned into affordable places to live for those that need it across Tunbridge Wells.
“The Government needs to urgently review the current system which is clearly not working and TWBC needs to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use.
"It is shameful that TWBC has failed to use its existing powers to end this scandal. Local families have spent Christmas homeless because of Conservative inaction and ineptitude."