Housing applicants would have to prove link to town under planned new rules

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People without a proven connection to Crawley will not be eligible to join the housing register, if proposals from the Borough Council are approved.

At a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday (October 9), members agreed a recommendation that certain changes to the council’s housing allocation scheme be put forward to Full Council.

The changes included: applicants having to have lived in Crawley for three years without a break or having worked here for five. And applicants having an immediate relative, such as mother or father, who has lived in the town for five years.

A report put before the meeting stated any applicants already on the housing register would need to demonstrate they met the requirements or they would be removed from the list.

Cllr Richard Burrett, Cabinet member for housing, said: “We’ve taken the opportunity to review our allocation scheme. We’re now able to put a much more stringent limit on people eligible to join the housing register.”

Members of the Labour group agreed the need for a local connection should be strengthened but, at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny commission, did not agree with the three-year residency minimum.

Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Bewbush) said: “I don’t think three years is long enough.

“When I have spoken to local families who have lived in Crawley for many years, they tell me their frustration that their children and grandchildren, who have also lived in Crawley for years, don’t get that taken into account.

“I think if we really have the freedom, we should go much further than the three years that appears to have been chosen.”

The suggestion was put to the Cabinet by OSC chair Cllr Sally Blake, but not accepted.

Cllr Duncan Crow, Cabinet member for Leisure and Cultural Services, said: “If it was five years, some one may not be able to have a connection with anywhere because people move around so much.

“That said, all members feel there is a need for a local connection, we all support that and, on balance, we feel three years is enough.”

Cllr Burrett added that the situation could be reviewed at a later date.

If agreed, the changes would come into effect on December 16. The report will go before Full Council on Wednesday October 23.