Council housing sell-off 'scandal'

Reports that councils forced to sell properties to tenants 'on the cheap' under the Right to Buy policy are having to rent them back 'at extortionate rates to house those in need' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Independent reports that under the government’s refreshed Right to Buy policy, councils "are selling off their already limited supplies of housing stock and allowing former council tenants to profiteer as buy-to-let landlords". The newspaper says that a poll of councils it carried out reveals that "of 82 council homes sold under the new Right to Buy scheme in Corby, Northamptonshire, 25 are now rented by people on housing benefit, costing £85,063.95 since April 2012. And in Dartford, Kent, seven of the 47 properties sold under the scheme in its new form are being rented out by people on housing benefit at a cost of £96,000 so far".

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports on a "legal clash between The Heath and Hampstead Society, a charity founded in 1897 to preserve the heath, and the City of London Corporation, which has managed it since 1989", over proposed work to reduce the risk of flooding from Hamstead Heath’s ponds. The newspaper says that "the society is bringing a judicial review over the City’s plans to build new defences around eight of the Heath’s 25 ponds to improve the safety of the existing dams, which are made of earth. This is intended to prevent the dams collapsing or failing in the event of a severe storm. The two-day High Court hearing is due to start on November 13".

The Times (subscription required) says Oxford is set to get a new rail in a move that would "further reverse the Beeching cuts around the university city". The newspaper says Chiltern Railways is due to announce it will "reinstate passenger services along the Cowley branch line to the south and east of the city and to connect it directly with London".

The Guardian reports that the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, and the London mayor, Boris Johnson, "will refuse to support their own party’s policy on airport expansion at the next election, potentially opening a rift at the top of the Conservative party". The newspaper says that "ahead of a final round of public consultations on how to meet demand for extra capacity, which will begin within days, both Hammond and Johnson have told constituents they will strongly oppose the building of a third runway at Heathrow – one of three options being considered by an independent commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies".

The Telegraph reports that a High Court judge "hearing plans to develop an old village forge next to a cricket pitch asked: 'what are sixes and fours?'" The newspaper says the proposed development was blocked by the judge who decided that occupants and visitors would be ''at risk of injury'' from flying balls during matches. The decision was made by Mrs Justice Beverley Lang, sitting in London, who had queried the meaning of sixes and fours during a two-day hearing last week, the newspaper says.

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