Tory shires 'hardest hit by house price fall': Labour survey attacks prosperity 'myth'

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Indy Politics
HOUSE PRICES in Conservative-controlled areas have fallen by 27.5 per cent since the beginning of the Eighties boom, according to figures produced yesterday by the Labour Party, writes Colin Brown.

Jack Straw, Labour's spokesman on local government, produced the figures as part of its local election campaign to 'debunk the myth' that Tory areas were more prosperous than those under Labour control.

He said that while much was made of the 1.2 per cent rise in house prices in March, the Labour survey showed this rate of recovery would be necessary every month for two-and-a-half years, in areas such as Northamptonshire and Suffolk, to return homes to the prices their owners paid in 1989, when the last county elections took place.

Taken from Halifax Building Society returns, the biggest percentage falls were in Tory-controlled East Sussex and Norfolk (both -35 per cent); Suffolk (-32 per cent); Northampton (-31 per cent); Buckinghamshire and Hampshire (-30 per cent); Devon and Somerset (-29).

Tory leaders will dismiss the figures as no more than a reflection of the recession, which had a harder impact on the South. But they point to the underlying difficulties facing many Tory voters, which could produce disaffection at the polls on 6 May.

Mr Straw said the biggest average losses in cash terms since 1989 were equal to pounds 157 a week in East Sussex; pounds 151 in Oxfordshire; pounds 140 in Surrey; pounds 137 in Buckinghamshire; pounds 136 in Hertfordshire; pounds 127 in Berkshire; pounds 124 in Hampshire; pounds 114 in Norfolk; pounds 110 in Essex; and pounds 109 in Somerset.

The highest numbers of repossession orders granted between 1989 and 1992 were: Kent 500; Essex 458; Devon 427; Hampshire 404; Surrey 374; Lancashire 349; Hertfordshire 311; Buckinghamshire 239; Berkshire 223; and Leicestershire 211. 'These figures emphasise the way in which the recession has so severely damaged the economies, and the housing markets, of the Tory heartlands,' Mr Straw said.