A twin-pronged attack aiming to help tackle housing problems has been backed by North Norfolk District Council.

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Housing allocation rule changes which give higher priority to people on the waiting list with local connections, and a new empty homes policy aiming to bring long-term empty properties back into use were both voted through.

The allocations changes would help ease the frustration of people seeking a home in a certain town or village who felt they were missing out to others on the list, cabinet member Trevor Ivory told a full council meeting.

“It is a real step forward in addressing the concerns of local people - and means 20pc of housing stock will go to people with local need rather than 5pc.”

The empty homes policy was also agreed. Russell Wright who had “fundamental problems” with what he felt was a “heavy handed approach” from a Conservative council, was the sole vote against.

“If I wanted to keep some houses empty but tidy that’s my prerogative. I have seen worse gardens in houses with people living in them,” he added.

But Mr Ivory stressed the council was not being heavy handed. The aim was to identify properties that were becoming a problems after being empty for more than six months and provide help to owners to get them re-occupied or on the market.

“Only in extreme cases would we step up and compulsory purchase is absolutely the last result - it is highly unlikely it will ever be needed,” he said.

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