More needs to be done to reduce the number of homes lying empty in Caerphilly County, according to Plaid Cymru group leader, Colin Mann.
Latest figures obtained by Plaid Cymru under the Freedom of Information Act show revealed at the end of March 2020, 1,441 homes in the county borough had been vacant for more than six months.
In addition, Caerphilly council said that 126 had been empty over five years and 70 for more than 10 years. At the same time just 36 properties were brought back into use.
Plaid Cymru group leader Colin Mann said: “We still have more than 1,400 properties that have been empty for more than six months at the time when several thousand people are desperate for homes. This cannot be acceptable.
“More clearly needs to be done to bring back many of these homes into beneficial use. The council has provided financial support with loans of £120,500 for six properties but that is a background of £10m being set aside last November by the Welsh Government’s Valley Taskforce, so quite a way to go yet.
“Vacant properties also have a negative impact on neighbours and neighbourhoods, often cause a nuisance to neighbouring properties. I know of instances of damp affecting neighbouring properties. These properties are also often affected by vermin.
“If the council is not able to take effective action to drastically reduce this number they should cooperate with other agencies, such as housing associations.”
Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru MS for south-east Wales, said: “Vacant properties represent the potential for more homes for our communities, and the local authority should use all the tools in their armoury to bring them back into use. Loans should be provided for owners to renovate them where necessary, as so many empty properties are falling into disrepair and neglect.
"The Welsh Government must also consider giving local authorities and housing associations more finance and freedom to buy empty properties and bring them up to standard. After all, we all want young people in our communities to be able to buy and rent homes near their families, and to see our towns thriving.”
Councillor Colin Mann said that he would be asking scrutiny committee members to seek a report on the empty house crisis. “The council announced in June this year it was interested in obtaining vacant properties in need of repair, so having this issue discussed at scrutiny seems timely so we can see if there has been any progress.”