MORE than 500 homes in Swindon have stood empty for over six months.

And councillors want something done about it quickly, particularly with homelessness in the borough on the rise.

Tory Roger Smith and Labour's Paul Dixon have joined forces and will ask for more action to be taken at Thursday night's full Swindon Borough Council meeting – possibly going as far as making compulsory purchases.

Their motion says: “This council requests the cabinet member for housing and public safety carries out a business case for giving greater priority to this issue, to include the socio-economic impact of empty homes on local communities, together with the use of enforcement powers including compulsory purchase powers and empty dwelling management orders.”

They suggest the responsibility for bringing back empty houses into use, which is spread across different areas of the council, be consolidated in the housing department.

Coun Dixon said: “The issue was highlighted in an audit committee report and and Coun Smith and thought it was important to get action on it.

“There are too many empty houses in the borough and some of them have been empty for a long time, and they are causing in a nuisance in their neighbourhoods.

“I think we should be doing more, working with the owners to bring the houses back into use.

“The council has the power to charge an extra 200 per cent council tax on l houses that have been empty for a long time and I think that’s a good deterrent – it’s a good place to start.

“But we can use things like empty dwelling management plans and as a last resort Section 215 enforcement orders and compulsory purchases.”

Coun Dixon hopes to receive support across the chamber on Thursday evening.

He said: “I think Coun Smith and I might be coming at this from two different angles, but we have met somewhere in the middle and I hope that this will pass – it’s important that the council does something about long-term empty houses

“It’s just a matter of finding the resources and the will to do it.”

The council will meet virtually at 7pm. A weblink will be published on the agenda page to allow members of the public to attend.