Over the last 24 hours the Echo has run three stories which are intrinsically linked to each other and are a direct result of the 10 years of austerity the current Conservative government has chosen to impose and the Right to Buy schemes of previous Tory Governments which have significantly reduced the housing stock locally.

Your stories highlighted:

1 That one in four houses in Weymouth and Portland are bought as second homes or buy-to-rent;

2 That there are over 650 empty homes in Weymouth and Portland and West Dorset; and

3 Life expectancy in deprived areas of Dorset is up to six years less than in more affluent neighbourhoods.

All of these statistics should be of concern to us individually, but when added together and seen in the wider picture of falling educational outcomes, longer waiting lists for non acute health treatments, a reduction in the availability of adult social care and insecure work with poverty wages, it paints a picture of a local economy in crisis.

And what are our local Tory MPs doing?

Fiddling while Rome burns.

Are they defending our local hospitals from closure?

Are they lobbying to increase funding to our failing secondary schools?

Mr Letwin MP has led the recent review into land banking which found no evidence that developers hold onto land to maximise profits, whilst receiving donations from a company who has sat on undeveloped land locally for over two years.

It is time for a change.

Labour will make the change for those children who are going to spend this Christmas is bed and breakfast accommodation, and those people who risk their lives sleeping on the streets of our towns.

Nationally, Labour has pledged to build a million new truly affordable council and housing association homes.

Labour will build for people like those in West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland who are on below average incomes and are currently priced out of the housing market – the young who have to stay at home, single parents who cannot afford a home and childcare and all those on insecure and short term contracts who have no income guarantees.

Labour will set living rents and low cost mortgages at a third of average local incomes.

And to tackle the increasing problem of our local housing market being overrun with second homes, Labour will impose a new levy on second homes used as holiday homes.

Next May, local people have a chance to vote to change and improve all our lives in Dorset, or to continue with the increasing gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' which will blight our children's futures for generations to come and will lead to more and more headlines like these. The choice is ours.



West Dorset Labour Party