THE number of empty homes in the Winchester district is a “scandal”, according to a Liberal Democrat councillor.

Martin Tod asked Winchester City Council leader Caroline Horrill, who is also portfolio holder for housing, what action was being taken to address 318 houses that have been empty for more than six months.

A meeting of full council heard that 95 properties have stood empty for more than two years, with 42 remaining empty for more than five years and 18 for more than 10 years.

But 236 long-term empty homes have been brought back into use in 2016-17.

Cllr Tod said: “Given the extreme pressure we have on housing, it is a scandal that so many of those homes are staying empty for so long.”

Cllr Horrill replied: “An empty homes strategy was approved in March 2016 and in the last year officers have been reviewing the database, visiting empty properties, liaising with landlords and taking action to encourage them being brought back into use.

“The empty homes strategy is currently under review and a report on progress will be considered by the cabinet housing committee in March 2018.”

Cllr Horrill added that they were making “concerted efforts” to bring homes back into use.

“I don’t think we have been shirking on our responsibilities. We will continue to improve.”

Councillor Jamie Scott asked whether it would be useful to map where the empty properties in the district were so that “members are better able to do more liaison work with landlords to take these properties on.”

Cllr Horrill replied: “That piece of of information is available to us. You may have local knowledge that can help us so we welcome sharing that with members.”