MORE than 400 people have backed a tough newpolicy to force new tenants to have a connection with Basildon for at least seven years before getting a council house.

A total of 463 people – out of 674 responses – agreed with the new policy proposed by Basildon Council’s Tory leadership.

Under the plan, an applicant’s link to the borough would be increased from three years to seven before they get a home.

In comparison, Southend insists new tenants have a link to the area for three years and in Rochford it is two years.

The move by Basildon Council is designed to ease up space on the council’s housing register, with close to 3,000 people last month being high priority cases on the waiting list.

Phil Turner, Basildon Council’s deputy leader and councillor responsible for housing, said: “This is Basildon homes for Basildon people.

“It is harsh, but it demonstrates our administration’s commitment to local people.

Three years’ local connection is not enough.”

The council will look to rubber- stamp this policy at next week’s cabinet meeting, after consulting on the proposals for the past fewmonths.

Housing bosses claim this could cut the number of people on the waiting list by half.

The policy would have some exceptions, with past and serving Armed Forces personnel getting a chance to jump the queue.

Priority will also be given to those working and volunteering in the borough.

Paul Dudley, 45, of Oldwyk, Vange, has been living in the borough for the past six-and-ahalf years.

He said: “When I asked about the housing register, I was told I needed a seven-year connection, so it sounds like it is already in place.

“I am perhaps going to look into going on the list once my seven years is done though.

“I think it’s an idea that comes down to supply and demand. At the moment there are not enough houses around, so I can see why they are doing it.

“But when they build thousands more in the coming years, will it still be a good idea?”