Social cleansing in Suffolk claim

SOCIAL cleansing is taking place in Suffolk villages, it has been claimed today.

SOCIAL cleansing is taking place in Suffolk villages, it has been claimed today.

Babergh District councillor Bryn Hurren said he fears for the future of communities in the county as poorer people are forced out because of rising house prices.

Cllr Hurren said more needed to be done to develop affordable housing in small villages.

He said: “Sometimes only a couple of local families are left in these villages.

“I have likened it to social cleansing and this is what it is.

“If you've got an income of £80,000 you can live there, if you don't you can't. This is a serious problem in Babergh.

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“In the villages near me you can't get a starter scheme going.”

Cllr Hurren said the situation meant villages were being “strangled” with many services vanishing as commuters moved in to the expensive homes.

He said: “It is a big issue. We welcome the people who come in but it amounts to a total population change.

“A lot of villages could really do with three or four little houses.”

Ian Tippett, the council's housing services manager, agreed that many poorer people were being priced out of villages and said: “Babergh is experiencing, as are many other districts and boroughs across the UK, a great demand for more affordable housing and we are putting a high priority on delivering as many new homes as we can.

“We know that local people need, and want, these developments so they can stay in villages where they grew up and have family.

“Average house prices in Babergh are now well over £200,000 which makes it impossible for many people to buy a home of their own, especially in many of our villages where house prices are particularly high. We are working with parish councils to help identify potential sites where local needs housing can be developed.

“To that end, Babergh has pledged to have at least 700 affordable homes built or in the development pipeline by 2010 - and we are well on the way to achieving that figure.”

Do you think Suffolk's countryside is facing a social cleansing crisis? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk