THE PRIME Minister has criticised City of York Council in the Commons, blaming the city's housing crisis on the authority's lack of a Local Plan for more than half a century.

Theresa May, responding to a question from York Central Labour MP Rachael Maskell, told MPs that the Government was making changes to ensure more homes were built in the UK.

Then she said: "I will also say to the honourable lady one of the issues we have had to look at is making sure local councils are producing Local Plans.

"I believe York hasn’t had a Local Plan for 50 years. I suggest she speaks to her council about it.”

The Tory Premier's comments about the authority, which is currently run by a Tory/LibDem coalition, came during Prime Minister's Questions.

Ms Maskell claimed the crisis was out of control in York, with families crammed in box rooms, hundreds of damp and mouldy council homes and street homelessness up 15 fold since 2010.

She said: "Mr Speaker, my constituents don’t want warm platitudes from the Prime Minister, they just want warm homes, so when can they have the social housing they so desperately need and York’s Tory-Lib Dem Council have completely failed to deliver, as does her strategy."

Ms Maskell said afterwards: “The Prime Minister lays the blame for York’s housing crisis clearly and squarely with the council.

"She is right they should be doing more to provide the social housing York’s families desperately need.

“It is time that the mirror was held up to highlight the lack of affordable homes to rent and buy in York.

"I will not cross by on the other side as people in my constituency struggle to have their basic housing needs met.

"It is an absolute scandal that the housing crisis is deepening, and that is why I have called on the Prime Minister to intervene.

“While the Prime Minister may try and bat me away, her new planning strategy offers no hope either.

"I know that Labour heard my call, and will deliver the housing that York residents should rightfully have access to.

"Housing is not an additional luxury, it is a basic human right. I will not rest until my constituents are provided with the homes they need.”

Cllr Ian Gillies, Conservative group leader on the council, said that for many of the last 50 years, the authority had been run by Labour, and also claimed the last Labour administration had failed to produce a Local Plan after creating a 'flawed' document.

Conservative MP for York Outer Julian Sturdy said:  "The Prime Minister was correct to say that the lack of a formalised Local Plan for York has not helped deliver the strategic housing we need.

"However, Ms Maskell should be aware that under years of Labour running the council they did not deliver a Local Plan. In fact, the current Conservative led council are getting on and delivering a balanced Local Plan, with submission scheduled for June this year.

"All this is happening whilst Ms Maskell is wrongly calling for progress to be halted on the Local Plan."