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 The Sanderstead Blog
 
Cllr  Lynne  Hale
Cllr  Yvette  Hopley
Cllr  Tim  Pollard
 

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."

 
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Be a Winter Champion - Do Take Care in The Cold Weather
10/12/2018 16:52:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

Some General Advice

• Getting a flu vaccination. This is particularly important for young children, pregnant women, people over 65 years old and those with a long term health condition.
• Visiting a pharmacist as a good first port of call for advice, as they are experts in many aspects of healthcare. No appointment is required and many have private consultation areas.
• Make use of GP appointments which are available throughout the week.
• Calling NHS 111 for immediate healthcare needs when appropriate.

Residents are also advised to stay warm and well during the winter, and helping others to do so, by:

• Keeping their homes warm at a temperature of at least 18°C (65°F).
• Treating colds and sore throats quickly, wrapping up in warm comfortable clothing and wearing shoes with a good grip, especially if it is icy or wet outside.
• Looking out for frail, elderly or vulnerable family, neighbours or friends as they are more susceptible to ill-health in the cold. Ensure they are warm, have stocked up on their medication and have enough food in their cupboards.

More winter wellness advice is available at [www.nhs.uk/staywell]www.nhs.uk/staywell

 


 

Xmas Lights - Sanderstead & Hamsey Green
22/11/2018 16:08:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

 
 

Finally, the Xmas tree has been installed at the side of Sanderstead pond.  This should be lit along with the trees on the roundabout.  I am pleased to see that the lamp posts in Sanderstead and Hamsey Green have their lights already in place.  All ready for Santa to turn them on on Saturday, 1 December at 4pm.  Residents will be gathering from 3.30 pm to sing carols around the newly planted tree.  Do come and join us.

 


 

Sanderstead Pond - Vandalism
26/10/2018 12:12:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

 
 

Sadly the Sanderstead Residents’ Association noticeboard and notices around Sanderstead pond were vandalised last week.  What some people probably don’t know is that the area is currently infested with rats.  Poison has been put down to try to bring the numbers down but with the warm weather, water and current food supply from residents feeding the ducks the problem has become an environmental health problem. 

The council as a matter of urgency put up metal signs at the pond and also laminated posters on the trees and bench to try to persuade residents to stop feeding the ducks whilst they deal with this worrying situation.  Huge rats have been seen scurrying along the pathways and around the Gruffy and in the vegetation at the pond.  This is only a temporary measure until the infestation is brought under control.

I thought it was worth informing you of the dangers of contracting Weil’s disease.

Weil's disease is a form of a bacterial infection also known as Leptospirosis that is carried by animals, most commonly in rats and cattle. It can be caught by humans through contact with rat or cattle urine, most commonly occurring through contaminated fresh water. Although human infection in the UK is minimal it is still worth taking some preventative measures to decrease the possibility of contracting it.

Lots of young and elderly people enjoy this pleasant beauty spot and as a matter of public safety these measures have had to be taken.  I would hate for anyone to become seriously ill as a result of not taking action with the council.

I hope this helps explain why these urgent measures have been taken.

 


 

Sanderstead Memorial Hall - New Noticeboard
22/10/2018 16:34:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

 
 

To commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War a new notice board and sign has been erected at Sanderstead Memorial Hall. Councillor Yvette Hopley & Cllr Lynne Hale unveiled the notice board on Friday, 19 October 2018

The origins of the Hall go back to just after the end of the First World War. A group of local residents set up a committee in order to raise funds and create a suitable memorial in honour of all the men and women of Sanderstead who died or served their country in the Great War.  The hall is used by a number of groups in the Sanderstead Community.

 


 

Sanderstead & Hamsey Green Ponds
19/10/2018 15:40:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

 
 

I visited Sanderstead and Hamsey Green ponds today to talk to the Conservation Volunteers about improvements.  At Sanderstead pond they are going to build a couple of new wooden benches so that resident can enjoy the view and have a little rest.  It maybe possible to repair the nesting boxes or if necessary re-build them.  This will be funded from the councillor budgets.  I also took a look at the recent clearance of parrot weed from Hamey Green pond.  This was undertaken by the Conservation Volunteers who have made some headway clearing the parrot weed and reeds and well as cutting back some of the dead branches.  The pond does need de-silting and this is a major job which will be undertaken by the council.  We are awaiting the contract to undertake this significant piece of work.

 

 

 

 


 

Sanderstead Ward Panel Meeting
18/10/2018 21:19:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

I attended the Sanderstead Ward Panel Meeting at Riddlesdown Collegiate.  Ward promises were discussed and whilst maintaining a focus on residential and non-residential burglaries across the ward along with motor vehicle crime, including theft it was decided to focus on both our young peple in terms of developing youth engagement along with raising awareness about scams and frauds with our elderly and vulnerable residents.  Residents can contact our SNT on 0208 721 2470 or email: ZD-SNTSanderstead@met.police.uk.

 


 

Sanderstead Library - Prize Winners!
17/10/2018 18:06:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

 
 

Cllr Lynne Hale and I presented the prizes for the Summer Reading Challenge at Sanderstead Library on Friday, 12 October.  Pictured here are prize winners.  The Library has a great children's section and is much used by those attending pre-school. It is a good stepping stone for our young people learning to read who eventually will have a more formal education at school.

 


 

Latest 'local plan' consultation
13/10/2018 21:33:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard

Monday is the deadline for submitting comments on the council's plans for the 'evolution of the suburbs'. This document sets out in detail how the current council administration intend to intensify the suburbs like Sanderstead and make it even easier to demolish family housing and replace it with blocks of flats. 

Don't get me wrong, I have no objection to the construction of flats ot allow younger residents t oget on to the housing ladder or rent somewhere reasonably affordble. But it is where and how you do it that matters.

Here is my submission:

Please accept this email as my submission on the consultation for the SPD2 document. I write in my capacity as a Sanderstead ward councillor and as the leader of the opposition.

I will start with general comments on the document and then pick out some clauses which give rise to concern for specific remarks.

This is a well put together document which is easy to understand to the lay person. There are a large number of proposals contained within it that give me great concern, as a councillor representing the suburbs, but I cannot fault the way the document has been put together. It should be used to add clarity and texture to the policies in the local plan , but in my opinion SPD2 is too subjective and raises more questions than it answers.

The local plan makes it clear that intensification is coming to all areas of Croydon, with the leafy suburbs being no exception. My concerns are not the fact of intensification, but the need to balance intensification with keeping the distinct character of our different neighbourhoods and retaining the quality of life which currently makes them pleasant places to live. I am concerned that this issue of ‘character’ is paid little attention in the draft SPD2.

Specific points:

Figures 1.3a, 1.3b and 1.3c detail the evolution of the different types of suburbs, but are very subjective and takes no account of the context or topography of individual streets.

Paragraph 2.2 sets out the overarching principles to provide the right mix of homes in the right location, improve or positively contribute to local character and minimise impact on neighbouring amenity. All of these are laudable aspirations, but how are they balanced against housing need and how will be the balance between them be adjudicated?

Paragraph 2.3 & 2.4 talks about optimising sites by building across boundaries. I have major concerns about this. There is a real danger that this policy will create mega blocks which dominate their neighbourhoods. How will this work with policies 2.11 and 2.15?

Paragraph 2.7 & 2.8  - 2.7 talks encouragingly about recognising that different places have a different character and a different type of built environment. But it is really hard to take from this any guidance about what is and is not acceptable in each place. The Character of the 16 places is shown followed by the three types of approaches to character – sympathetic and faithful, innovative and original, contemporary reinterpretation – but there is no guidance as to what is to be used where. This runs the risk of challenging the character of the places and allows for too loose an interpretation. Is this really a faithful interpretation of policy DM10?

2.11 pages 38 and 39 offer guidance on acceptable levels of visual intrusion which seem confusing, vague and highly subjective. In my view 2.11n and 2.11r are equally unacceptable.

Paragraph 2.17 refers to backland site and references part of policy DM10.4 e. For clarity it should also detail the rest of the policy around use of 50% of rear gardens.

Paragraph 2.30 I agree that it is important for parking areas to be landscaped rather than simply being areas of hardstanding. However I am concerned about 2.30.3 suggesting it is appropriate to have parking in the front and rear.  

Chapter 3 details the four intensification areas in Brighton Road, Forestdale, Kenley & Shirley. In my view the locations and boundaries of these were arbitrary and in may cases illogical. Sadly only the Sanderstead one was entirely deleted, although it is clear that the Inspector also had concerns bout the evidence base to support these zones. However, whatever we may now think, the boundaries in most cases have been set by the Local Plan.

I have always felt that the Forestdale zone in particular is virtually impossible to deliver due to the fragmented nature of the land ownership.

 


 

Friends of Kings' Woods
11/10/2018 19:48:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

 
 

Kingswood Footpath Improvements

The Friends of King’s Wood approached their local Councillors to ask for funding to improve sections of worn paths at the various entrances into the wood to make them more welcoming for local residents. 

The Ward Councillor through their Community Budget agreed to fund the resurfacing works with a grant of £6,782.

 The Friends commissioned the Downlands Partnership Project to deliver the project over 9 days in August 2018. The Downlands Partnership hired the necessary machinery, and thanks to Graham Woodcock the machines were stored at the King’s Wood cottages for the duration of the project.

120 tonnes of type 1 limestone material was laid and over 1500 metres of paths improved. 66 volunteers assisted over the 9 days, led by 3 experienced members of staff. The project was very popular with volunteers and the large number attending meant they had time to carry out additional works and cleared litter, removed vegetation to widen paths and removed unwanted holly and sycamore.

 

 


 

Council still messing up bin enquiries
05/10/2018 07:32:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard

Lots of residents have been in touch to say that they repeatedly report problems with the new bins, including many missed collections, but that absolutely nothing changes. I saw a good example of that last week. On 27 July I asked them to review whether the new bins were suitable for properties like Woodview Close, off Cherry Tree Green. 

The head of service wrote back to say he had asked his team to review it. On 26 SEPTEMBER the service wrote to say they were going to do it (the review) - that's two entire months' delay!

Now residents at the other end of the new ward, in Ridge Langley, have asked for a review, on the grounds that their properties are up many steps and there is nowhere to store the bins at ground level. They have tried to get the contact to do this direct, but have had no response to their pleas. I have told the service I am hoping for  rather quicker response this time.....

In the meantime, residents who have used the new online reporting facility for missed collections tell me they report every missed collection but the service neither improves the following week nor do they get a remedial collection. They'd do as well to pin a message to the tail of a passing cat as use the new online system!

And people who try to use the 'phone often find they receive a cheery message about how great the new online service is, then get cut off. 

And we repeatedly hear from residents that the crews are looking inside the new massive containers and seeing just a small amount of recyclables in the bottom, so they are picking up the bin and tipping the contents into their 'master' bins, in the way they used to do with the old crates. That's an industrial accident waiting to happen. When residents report it they get assured that Veolia does not do this - in spite of the evidence of hundreds of pairs of eyes that they do! I think I know which, out of the residents and the crews, are telling porkies.

As councillors we have a little more joy than residents in getting the service deficiencies sorted out, so please do continue to involve us where there are difficulties and we will do our best to get them sorted.

 


 

See older blog posts

 

 
 
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 Older Blog Posts
04/10/2018
Sanderstead Pond
28/09/2018
Bins, Bins, Bins - But no Collections in some places
26/09/2018
Fly tipping on Copthorne Rise
14/09/2018
Fly Tip Bins with Asbestos
05/09/2018
Recycling Boxes
03/09/2018
How to handle the bin change over
31/08/2018
Waste Services - Change of System
17/07/2018
Update on wheelie bin rollout
17/07/2018
Road works in Hamsey Green
12/07/2018
Sanderstead Residents Association - Waitrose - 4 August - 10am
12/07/2018
New Bin Delivery
11/07/2018
A New Bus Seat at Sanderstead Recreation Ground Bus Stop
03/07/2018
New Crossing - Addington Road
28/06/2018
Possible New Gym in Hamsey Green
26/06/2018
Refuse Recycling and Green Waste Collections
25/06/2018
Sanderstead Pond - Notice in SRA Noticeboard
21/06/2018
Hamsey Green Pond - Early Morning Meeting
21/06/2018
Heathhurst Road/Mayfield Road Footpath
20/06/2018
Hear Me Speak - Sanderstead Residents' Association
20/06/2018
20mph Road Markings - Purley Downs Road
19/06/2018
Sanderstead Safer Neighbourhood Team - Change of Email
18/06/2018
Grass Cutting and Green Space Management
18/06/2018
Sanderstead Pond - Rat Infestation
16/06/2018
Kings Wood - Friends Signs
15/06/2018
Eid - Sanderstead Recreation Ground
14/06/2018
Sanderstead Care Centre - Previously Wells Place
12/06/2018
Addington Road - Proposed Crossing
12/06/2018
Footpath 145 Between Heathhurst Road and Mayfield Road
24/05/2018
McCarthy & Stone - Limpsfield Road
24/05/2018
Green Waste - Missed Collections
 
 
 
 
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