People waiting for council accommodation will get just one choice of house in a bid to cut homelessness in Colchester.

Councillors have passed a range of measures which came about after council officers were asked to "think the unthinkable" to solve the area's housing problems.

Along with the "one offer" policy, tenants will get an incentive to move to a home with fewer bedrooms and landlords who agree to rent out an empty property for five years will get priority for renovation grants.

At last night's (Wednesday's) meeting of the council, they also agreed proposals to slim down the council's spending on bed- and-breakfast accommodation for homeless people, such as lending them money to help with the costs of moving into a new home.

Speaking at the meeting, Sonia Lewis (Con, Lexden) said: "I'd like to pay tribute to the policy panel who did spend an awful lot of time on this item.

"We did some soul searching and I think we made some very brave recommendations. One we didn't take lightly was that residents on the housing needs register will be offered only one choice but 80 percent of people take that choice.

"It was a difficult decision. We didn't take it lightly and I do hope it will get the support of this council."

The changes to the policies had been recommended to the council by the housing, community safety and health policy panel.

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