SENIOR Conservative councillors in Monmouthshire have been accused of “sitting on their hands” over potential plans to form a council housing company.

The council was urged by Labour opposition leader Councillor Dimitri Batrouni to create a local housing company (LHC) and start developing council houses again to cope with growing demand.

Last June, a motion tabled by Cllr Batrouni was backed by councillors across the political divide, with officers asked to investigate the possibility of in-house council housebuilding.

Monmouthshire County Council had transferred its council housing stock to Monmouthshire Housing Association in 2008.

A report was due back in September, but that has not appeared and council leader Peter Fox says this is purely because officers have been busy working on delivering key housing developments in the county.

READ MORE: Hundreds of homes needed in Monmouthshire to meet housing need, study suggests

However Cllr Batrouni says this had not been made clear by the council, adding: “It’s very frustrating but I can’t say I’m surprised.

“They pass the motion and then go quiet. There’s no vision, or drive, to push this through.

“Officers have a lot do but their priorities are determined by politicians, they’re not getting enough pressure from the leadership.”

In December, councillors supported a regional strategy involving all five Gwent local authorities which aims to find “innovative” solutions to tackling homelessness.

The number of households requesting homelessness assistance in Monmouthshire has fluctuated over the last three years, with 584 reported in 2017/18, 794 in 2016/17 and 591 in 2015/16.

READ MORE: Homelessness figures are rising across Gwent - and are 'likely to worsen' further, it has been warned

But Cllr Batrouni was “disappointed” that his motion was not mentioned, despite improving access to suitable and affordable housing being one of the strategy’s priorities.

“It takes time to get a LHC off the ground, which is even more reason why we should get going. The council are just sitting on their hands,” he said.

Cllr Fox says officers have been focused on “intense” discussions with registered social landlords to deliver new housing schemes. More than 500 homes in Caldicot, Portskewett and Raglan were given planning permission last November despite local objection.

The 111-home Raglan development has been called in by the Welsh Government amid claims the application is “contrary to national policy.”

READ MORE: Controversial 111-home Raglan village plan 'called in' by Welsh Government

Cllr Fox described the move by the Labour-controlled Welsh Government as “unfortunate”, saying that it was delaying the delivery of “much-needed” affordable housing.

He added: “Cllr Batrouni would be much better employed sorting out his own party in Cardiff Bay than messing around closer to home where the focus and reality is delivery.”