WELL now, here’s welcome news.

Wiltshire Council is taking positive action to tackle the shortage of sensibly priced homes.

It’s been spurred on by the difficulty in attracting key workers such as teachers and health professionals because they can’t afford to live here.

Rents in Salisbury are, as the cabinet member for housing, Richard Clewer, put it to me, “starting to get away from income levels”.

Wiltshire’s also twigged that the needs of homeless families and of young people leaving the care system aren’t being met, and that there are potentially profitable ways of helping them. So it’s going to borrow £50million cheaply over five years (don’t you wish you could do that?) and lend it to a newly-formed company, which it will own, to buy properties on the open market.

Some of them could be ex-council houses that were sold under the Right to Buy. (I know, don’t say it ...!)

They’ll be rented out for a reasonable amount, less than a private landlord would charge, but enough to make a return for the council.

Wiltshire will have first dibs over who gets to live in them, which will relieve pressure on the waiting list. And 40 per cent of them will be in the Salisbury area.

The even better news is that because they’ll be owned by a business they won’t be subject to the Right to Buy, which has decimated local authority housing stocks nationwide. Bingo! Everyone’s a winner!

Do you know that more than 40 per cent of the council homes sold off under Right to Buy now belong to private landlords, from whom some councils are having to rent them back, using our taxes, to temporarily rehouse homeless people?

Meanwhile private renters pay more to live in them than they would have done as council tenants.

You can’t blame landlords for wanting a return on their investment. The issue is whether it was ever right to sell off social housing without building like-for-like replacements.

Apparently, some desperate councils have been buying their old houses back (our taxes again) for SIX TIMES what they sold them for.

Then, like Wiltshire, they’re forced to get up to all these entrepreneurial tricks to shelter their assets because if they simply re-let them as council homes their new occupants would soon qualify for the Right to Buy all over again!

Have you ever heard of a more idiotic situation? Why the government doesn’t just repeal the Right to Buy now that there’s such a shortage of accommodation for people on low incomes, I don’t know.

Mr Clewer put it this way: “Right to Buy is a policy which was great for its time, but its time has now passed.”

I put it this way: What a mess Margaret Thatcher left behind! And Labour didn’t clear it up.

So let’s leave politics aside, because neither party is fit to run a whelk stall at present (no offence to whelk sellers intended!) and let’s just be thankful that this could make a big difference to the lives of hundreds of local people.