The not-so-selective licensing scheme 27/09/2014 08:24:00......Posted by Tim Pollard
On Thursday I attended a Public Meeting at the Hilton in Dingwall Road organised by the National Landlords Association, along with a number of other Conservative councillors, to discuss Labour's proposal to license landlords. Sadly there were no Labour councillors there to defend their proposal, as neither the cabinet member responsible (Alison Butler), nor her deputy, nor any other member of the Labour group was apparently free to attend. Around 100 people were present including many landlords and tenants, who will be a victim of Labour's planned tenant tax.
There was a rational discussion about the likely impact of the interestingly named 'Selective Licencing Scheme'. Of course, it's not selective - every private landlord in Croydon will have to pay £200 per property per year and the council would like the whole lot up front for a five year period. These licensing schemes are allowed in law, although the law (as the name suggests) was intended to allow selective schemes which only applied in two circumstances: that there was evidence linking crime or anti-social behaviour to a specific area with many private rented properties or where there is low demand for private rented accommodation (plainly not the case in Croydon).
The law also requires that the fee charged can only be used to fund the administration of the scheme. That's why many of the 70 boroughs who have introduced the scheme (of which 69 are Labour-controlled) are charging in the order of £50 per year (which is sufficiently modest for most landlords to probably not seek to pass on to tenants). At £200, Croydon's charge will be amongst the most expensive in the country - so either the council is the least efficient borough or they are blatantly profiteering!
It doesn’t take a genius to work out what will happen if this scheme goes ahead: landlords who make the payment will simply pass the cost on to their tenants. Lest we be accused of scaremongering, the Council admits this, though the admission is buried 19 pages into its report (“tenants may...be impacted by an increase in their housing costs as landlords seek to pass on some or all of the costs of licensing through higher rent levels”). At a national level, the Labour Party is arguing for the re-introduction of controls to stop rents increasing (a policy which, like many of Ed Miliband’s ideas, is superficially attractive, but which evidence from around the world shows would inevitably lead to fewer homes to rent and therefore higher rents in the medium term), but locally Croydon Labour Party is pursuing a policy which it admits will increase rents.
So why is our Labour Council doing this?
Well, it gives two reasons.
First, it says it wants to reduce flytipping and other forms of anti-social behaviour - a laudable aim. It claims that these problems are “commonly associated with poorly managed, overcrowded and low quality private rented accommodation”. Even if this is true, it would suggest that the Council should be doing something about poorly managed, overcrowded and low quality private rented accommodation, not taxing the whole sector. And it is very difficult to judge from the Council’s report whether it is true - little evidence is provided and what is said undermines rather than supports this claim (for example, the report says the private rented sector in the borough is growing rapidly but most forms of anti-social behaviour are declining and it also includes data which suggests that there is little correlation between the size of the private rented sector in different parts of the borough and the levels of anti-social behaviour in those areas).
Second, the Council says it wants to improve the quality of the housing in the private rented sector - another laudable aim. But again, the evidence in its report, both from within Croydon and from other London boroughs that have introduced Selective Licensing, suggests that most properties in the sector are in a reasonable state of repair. There are over 30,000 households in Croydon living in private rented accommodation: last year, the Council received 1,371 complaints (some households probably made multiple complaints so the number of properties complained about is probably lower than that, but set against that there are undoubtedly some tenants who don’t complain because their landlord makes it clear that they will evict them if they do). The London Borough of Newham has introduced Selective Licensing and registered 20,500 landlords, but has so far only banned 18, prosecuted 243 and cautioned 136.
In other words, all the evidence suggests that it is a minority of landlords that are causing the problem, not the whole sector. So why is our Labour Council taxing all landlords right across the borough (a tax which law-abiding landlords will pay but those causing the problems will try to avoid), rather than using powers it already has to take action against those landlords who are not maintaining and managing their properties properly?
Answer: because this tax is predicted to raise over £4.5 million, much of which will fund enforcement action the Council is already taking. It is a classic Labour stealth tax, in this case targeted at the people who are least able to pay (private sector rental tenants).
If you want to increase Council spending, you should have the honesty to make the case for higher Council Tax bills. To introduce a tax on landlords which you know is going to lead to some of the most vulnerable people in society facing even higher rents is beneath contempt.
Interstingly, it transpires that the Government is currently consulting on whether it should stop councils from introducing borough-wide Selective Licensing schemes. It is surprising to say the least that the Council's report made no mention of this.
You can read the Government's consultation paper here (pages 17-18) but this is the key section:
"A major drawback of licensing is that it impacts on all landlords and places additional burdens on reputable landlords who are already fully compliant with their obligations....The majority of landlords provide a good service and the Government does not want to impose unnecessary additional costs on them or tenants who may see their rents rise as landlord costs rise...The Government does not support the use of licensing across an entire local authority area. Such an approach is disproportionate...we believe that it goes against the policy intention of the original legislation (Housing Act 2004) which was designed to tackle problems in specific and strictly defined parts of a local authority area."
5G Telecommunications Mast - Hamsey Green 05/06/2020 14:19:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
An extremely large and unattractive mast has appeared in Hamsey Green on the grass verge outside the shops. Whilst we understood that the mast would be replaced to give 5G transmission I don't really think it was fully appreciated by residents the impact on the area. These applications are non-referrable so sadly we have little control as councillors over their siting. Many more of these are to be replaced thoughout the borough.
The full application consists of: Installation of a 20 metre multi-operator monopole supporting 12 no antenna apertures, together with the installation of 9 ground-based cabinets, following the removal of the existing 11.7m single-operator monopole and 4 cabinets. at: MBNL Telecomms Streetworks Mast, O/S 338-350 Limpsfield Road, South Croydon, CR2 9BX.
Coupled with this they have now installed some very large bollards which didn't appear on the plan. I have checked with the planning department to see if this is permitted.
The whole place is looking a bit of a disaster zone since last week the burst water main outside the Panahar has led to the verge the other end being dug up and left in a bit of a state.
This is all very disappointing given that we recently had some lovely trees planted on the verge to improve the outlook for the shops. Sadly, it is all looking like a bomb site.
I am in touch with officers to see what we can do to improve matters.
Millennium Bench - Wettern Tree Gardern - Sanderstead Junior School 05/06/2020 13:53:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
Some residents will remember the little Junior School in Purley Oaks Road - Sanderstead Junior School. Sadly now a block of flats. The children of the school donated a bench for the Millennium which is located in Wettern Tree Garden. It is now in need of a little restoration by means of a coat of varnish to bring the wood back to its natural sheen. The council have agreed to do this along with placing the memorial bench for Joy Gadsby by the hornbeam tree not too far from the monkey puzzle tree planted in her memory. The cost of the bench in memory of Joy is being paid for from the Sanderstead Councillor's community budget. Hopefully both will be ready for our summer to enjoy.
Last year I met with officers as a decision had been taken not to maintain the bank and hedge on the corner of Purley Downs Road and Sanderstead Hill. I was informed that due to Health and Safety they were not able to do any more than cut the grass to waist level at the bottom of the slope. Not surprisingly this year with the weight of the hedge and weeds on top of a bank that is essential comprised of sand it collapsed. I am now waiting, (some two weeks or more) for a decision to be made to clear the soil and grass from the pathway and decide how they are going to make the bank safe without actually undertaking any continued maintenance. I have to say it is a mystery to me how this will be achieved but lets wait and see what happens.
Drain Cover - Addington Road 22/05/2020 14:59:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
I am pleased to report that the extremely noisy drain cover on the Addington Road just before Sanderstead Plantation will be fixed this week. Residents I am sure will not miss the dreadful din as heavy traffic passes along this route
Broken Handrail on Sanderstead Hill 22/05/2020 14:52:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
Unfortunately, the handrail on Sanderstead Hill collapsed and upturned some of the tarmac. I know that many elderly residents rely on the handrail, particularly in the Winter months to avoid falls. I am pleased to say that officers have informed me that it has been replaced. Keep safe everyone.
Neighbourhood Recycling Centres Closed 19/05/2020 13:43:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
Many residents rely on the Neighbourhood Recycling Centres to dispose of much of their waste. Particularly those living in flats above the shops without any facilities to dispose of waste other than on the pavement or grass verge.
Unfortunately, the council has taken the decision to close the centre at Hamsey Green along with others without providing an alternative serrvice for the residents. The recycling centres have only just opened and the Purley Oaks Centre has extremely long queues for over an hour and is some miles from the area which isn't helpful, particularly if you haven't got a car,
This is the response I received from the council, not that I have seen fly tipping at the site only a lack of service in emptying the bins and keeping the site clean and tidy.
"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we made the decision to close the neighbourhood recycling centres as they were being contaminated and residents were not adhering to social distancing. This was a separate decision to closing them when we introduce the flats recycling. The introduction of the scheme is now delayed until we can return to a more business as usual situation. There is currently lots of messaging going to the public and now would not be the time to introduce a new recycling scheme.
We appreciate this is not the best scenario as it does not allow the residents to recycle but it does take the pressure off Veolia to ensure kerbside services are maintained. A decision on reintroducing sites until we can deliver the new recycling scheme is constantly being reviewed and we will let the public know as soon as things change. We removed the all the bins we could so as to discourage fly tipping at the site."
Litter bins on Sanderstead Rec 17/05/2020 08:17:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
I've had reports that the waste bins on Sanderstead Rec are overflowing so I have put in a request for these to be emptied. I guess in these unusual times some local amenities are going to need attention on a different cycle from normal, so if you do notice anything like this around the ward, please let us know and we will get it sorted.
Red Gables 2 Beech Avenue, Sanderstead - Refused 15/05/2020 20:27:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
As residents will know I objected to the application on the site of Red Gables in Beech Avenue. I believe that the application was out of character with the area and would be harmful to the character of the locality and the visual amenity of the surrounding landscape namely The Beeches. I am pleased to see that the application has been refused siting some of the reasons I put forward but also the lack of affordable homes. For now residents can breath a sigh of relief but sadly I am sure another application will be forthcoming. There follows the official wording from the council:
Red Gables, 2 Beech Avenue, South Croydon, CR2 0NL
Reason(s) for Refusal:
1 By reason of its scale, form and design the development would not be of high quality would be harmful to the character of the locality and detrimental to the visual amenity of the surrounding townscape. The development would thereby conflict with Policies SP4.1, SP4.2 and DM10 of the Croydon Local Plan (2018), Policies 7.1, 7.4, and 7.6 of the London Plan (consolidated with alterations since 2011) and the Croydon Suburban Design Guide (2019).
2 The development would fail to adequately contribute to addressing London's and the borough's need for affordable homes and would therefore be contrary to Policies SP2.4 and SP2.5 of the Croydon Local Plan (2018) and 3.10, 3.11, 3.12 and 3.13 of the London Plan (consolidated with Alterations since 2011).
3 The application has not demonstrated that the flood risk from the site has
been adequately addressed or provides an adequate scheme of sustainable
drainage. The proposal would fail to meet the requirements of the NPPF and
PPG, Policy 5.13 of the London Plan (consolidated with alterations since
2011) and Policy SP6.4 of the Croydon Local Plan (2018).
4 Insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate that the
development would not result in unacceptable harm to protected species or
habitats. This would be contrary to Policies SP7.4, DM27 and DM28 of the
Croydon Local Plan (2018) and Policy 7.19 of the London Plan (consolidated
with alterations since 2011).
5 The development would result in the loss of or the putting at risk of valued
trees. The loss of these trees would be detrimental to the character of the
area and the proposal is, therefore, contrary to SP7, DM10.8, DM27 and
DM28 of the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies 2013 and 7.4 and 7.21 of
the London Plan (consolidated with alterations since 2011).
Temporary Lights Limpsfield Rd/Orchard Rd 01/05/2020 13:52:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
To enable some gas mains replacement works it is necessary to install temporary multi way lights at Limpsfield Road j/w Orchard Road. The works are planned to take place between 4 and 17 May. Should anything change I will post an update.
I guess the good news about the timing is that this sort of road work is less of a problem during lockdown, with so much less trafic on the roads.
Poo bins in Kings Wood 30/04/2020 08:40:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
Under lockdown I have been enjoying the fact that my local walk - strictly the one I am allowed for exercise - is through Kings Wood, where the bluebells this year have been fabulous. Not so lovely has been the sight of the overflowing poo bins in several places, most particularly at the Kingswood Lane end. Having noticed this over the weekend I have brought it to the attention of the appropriate team, so hopefully it will be dealt with soon.
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