SOUTHEND Council has shed nearly 4,000 people from its housing waiting list in the past 12 months.

The authority had around 5,400 people on its waiting list for a council house this time last year. The current figure is almost a quarter of that, at 1,458.

Changes in legislation have allowed the council to remove thousands from the queue.

The Localism Act toughened up restrictions on who can join a council’s housing waiting list, which came into force in Southend last April.

Before, anyone could join the register to apply for a council house regardless of where they came from in the country or if they already had a home.

Now people deemed to already be in “adequate housing” are barred.

There are four priority bands, A to D, with the latter having the lowest need. There are now 294 people in band D and 225 given the greatest priority in A and B.

A council spokesman said: “This followed the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, which gave us the power to take groups of applicants out of the housing registers. In 2011 band D broadly contained applicants deemed to be adequately housed. Now, people in this category are not eligible for our register and band D is instead predominately for people with a housing need but no local connection.”