THE deputy mayor of Falmouth has revealed she was homeless for six years during a council debate on the housing crisis in Cornwall this week.

At a meeting of Falmouth Town Council on Monday night, deputy mayor Kirstie Edwards backed a motion by fellow councillor Jayne Kirkham for the council to recognise that a housing emergency exists in Falmouth.

During the debate Ms Edwards told councillors that despite now being the deputy mayor, she went through a long period with having no permanent home.

She said she had to leave her post as academic at Falmouth University for health reasons and ended up with nowhere to live.

“Nine years ago that was me in that situation," she said. "I had had to step down from my job at the university because of my health and I was expecting my first child.

"I had to move five times in six years because they kept renting the houses to students. I was then homeless and in emergency accommodation for six years before I was permanently housed three years ago.

"Everything fell apart really quickly and you never expect to be in that situation and I went from being an academic to being homeless.”

She said as a council they could show some of the solutions "and that we take the matter very seriously and we see these people.”

Proposing the motion Cllr Kirkham said she wanted the government and Cornwall Council to recognise the housing issues there are in Cornwall and Falmouth.

"I wanted Falmouth to recognise the problems we have in housing particularly the issues we have here with the holiday lets and have a large number of people coming in for student housing, even the students this year have had real problems finding somewhere to live. It's across the board now, it is becoming extremely difficult ."

Cllr Alan Jewell, who runs a campsite, said that the council must be careful it doesn't try to penalise existing holiday businesses.

"It [the motion] seems to be homing in on second homes and holiday lets avoiding paying both council tax and business rates," he said.

"Surely the case is the same for the student lets, you seem to have missed the point that student houses have caused this issue in Falmouth in particular." He the university had permission to build 700 flats on their own land which they hadn't done.

The council voted to support the motion that:

This Council recognises that a housing emergency exists in Falmouth and :

Calls upon the government to:

1. Finally end the loophole that permits owners of second homes and holiday lets to avoid paying both Council tax and Business rates;
2. Allow Cornwall Council to charge a levy for second homes and holiday lets in Cornwall and ringfence the money for the provision of social/council housing in Cornwall;

3. End the right to buy scheme;
4. Change the planning regulations to require a change of use application for properties to be used as second homes and holiday lets rather than residential use;
5. Introduce regulation of properties used for holiday lets which permits local authorities to set limits on percentage of properties available for let;

6. Introduce safeguards for renters so they cannot be evicted at only 2 months notice for no good reason and ensure they are offered secure and humane tenancy agreements.

And calls upon Cornwall Council to:

Enforce covenants on ex council houses that prohibit the use of the property for anything other than the residential use of local people that they were designed and built for with public money.

Change the definition of affordable, so that local people on their local wages can live in security in Cornwall.

Prioritise the urgent provision of council housing in Falmouth.