Simon Hughes: "Farron will put affordable homes at heart of leadership"
Putting himself firmly behind Tim Farron's bid to become the next Leader of the Liberal Democrats, former MP Simon Hughes has said Farron will put affordable housing at the heart of his leadership if elected.
Hughes and Farron today visited the site of the old Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle, where Hughes, who represented Bermondsey & Old Southwark constituency for 32 years, formally announced he was backing Farron's leadership bid.
The demolition of the Heygate Estate has meant the loss of 1,200 council homes, with just 79 new social rent units to be built. Hughes has said Farron as Leader will "put the spotlight on this scandalous loss of affordable homes".
Simon Hughes has long campaigned for 50% of all new housing to be affordable. However, over 70% of developments in the north of the borough have failed to meet the Labour-run council's own on-site affordable housing requirements.
Farron has also backed Hughes's plan for:
- The public to have power of appeal to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if councils break affordable housing commitments.
- New homes to be advertised locally before overseas.
- The National Planning Policy Framework to prioritise housing need over housing demand.
- Developers' planning applications to include economic viability assessments for affordable housing.
A two-time leadership candidate himself, Simon Hughes served as Party President from 2005-2009, a position Farron also held for four years until December 2014.
Hughes then went on to serve as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, before standing down to become Minister of State for Justice during the coalition government.
The endorsement from one of London's most well-known and influential politicians is a significant boost for Farron's campaign. It comes as over a hundred Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates, who stood at the recent General Election, released a letter in The Guardian also backing Farron.
Commenting, Hughes said: "People are being priced out of buying a home for themselves or their family here in London. The current state of affairs is simply not acceptable, and I know if he is elected as the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron will put the spotlight on this scandalous loss of affordable homes.
"I have worked closely with Tim for many years and know that he is a proven campaigner. I am therefore delighted to back his leadership bid and know that many party members across London will be giving him their support too."
Tim Farron added: "During his 32 years as the local MP, Simon Hughes argued strongly for affordable housing so people in London and around the country wouldn't be priced out of finding somewhere to live. If elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I want to take Simon's views forward and continue the campaign for more affordable homes.
"I feel very honoured to have Simon's backing in seeking to become the party's next Leader. Simon is one of London's most recognisable faces, he has dedicated his public life to the party and to London, and so to have his support is brilliant."