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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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Trees Outside Priscillas and The Gruffy -- Xmas Lights
03/11/2017 15:58:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

Residents will be delighted to hear that work is underway to put up the new Xmas lights purchased with the councillors community budget.  The lights will encircle the trees outside Sanderstead Recreation Park and at the Gruffy.  In order for the lights to be installed some minor works needs to be undertaken to remove some of the low hanging twigs and branches from the trees.  There will also be some new lights around the lampposts near the roundabout.  This builds on the lights already provided by the Sanderstead Residents' Association which will also be put up at the same time.  I am sure it will all look quite magical and we are looking forward to the official switch on and Xmas Fayre which will take place on Saturday, 2 December, in the Recreation Ground.

 


 

Traffic Sensors - Purley Oaks Road
03/11/2017 15:52:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

 
 

Residents may have noticed some boxes attached to trees with rubber lines across Purley Oaks Road.  I enquired with officers why these have been implemented and they are monitoring traffic speed prior to the introduction of the 20mph zones being introduced.

Whilst the local Conservatives support resident concerns in relation to all traffic measures in roads where residents feel restrictions are necessary this is a blanket measure being introduced across the borough.

 


 

Footpath 138 Between Shaw Crescent and Rectory Park/Road Cleansing/Garden Waste Dumping
03/11/2017 10:25:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

The footpath between Shaw Crescent and Rectory Park is full of debris and bags of dog poo.  I have asked officers to ensure the contractor cleans up this unsightly mess as soon as possible and hope that residents resist the temptation to leave these bags in the alleyway in the future.

Some roads in the ward do not appear to be getting their regular street cleansing.  I have reported Ashdown Gardens which I hope will be swept shortly. Hillsmead Way is another road that seems to get missed.  Do let me know if you feel your road has not been swept in the last couple of months.

Not surprisngly St Marys Road has a number of large piles of garden waste alongside the mound of leaves that have fallen on the pathway. This is now impassable and commuters struggle down the road which of course is quite dangerous.  I have asked for the road to be cleaned and the debris removed.

 

 


 

Bus Diversion
03/11/2017 10:18:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

A number of residents have raised issues in relation to the recent bus diversion caused by the resurfacing of Sussex Road.  I have received the following response from officers which does in some part answer your questions:

Firstly I would like to apologise for the inconvenience the resurfacing of Sussex Road has caused to the residents. Regrettably we were unable to implement these works during any other time due to noise restriction in a residential areas.

Our highway inspectors carry out timely inspections of all carriageway and footways in Croydon twice a year and monthly on our busier routes to identify and raise orders to repair sections of the carriageway and footway which meet or will meet our intervention levels. This process allows our highway inspectors to prioritise repairs as well as it ensures that we can target our budgets to sites with the greatest need.

In December 2016 our team identified Sussex Road, for a road repairs,  Kier was instructed to commence works onsite from 31 October 2017, Prior to start works a letter was distributed to residents dated 17 October 2017 and buses accordingly. 

Unfortunately we were unable to use Selsdon Road as part of diversion route  due to the non-availability of low buses. However it is our understanding that the bus diversions signs were instituted on Friday by transport for London (TFL), this is a standard practice.

To enable the council to carry out these works with minimal distributions to the residents it was necessary to close Sussex road between the hours of 7am to 7pm on two sequential days. The council will only implement road closure under exceptional circumstance to safe guard road users and operatives.

In addition Croydon highways are constantly exploring ways to minimise disruption to residents and the surrounding networks while resurfacing works are taking place.

 

 


 

Fly tipping in Hamsey Green
20/10/2017 17:52:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard

Once again there is fly tipping on the verge between the borough border and the shops on Limpsfield Road parade - all within LB Croydon, not in Surrey.

There’s a bag on the west side near the lidl hoarding and furniture and bags around the tree to the south west of the pedestrian crossing. I have asked that it be removed asap.

 


 

Objection to local plan
11/10/2017 07:20:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard

Yesterday I submitted my objection to the areas of the local plan we are allowed to comment on at this stage in the procedings - we can only comment on aspects that the inspector has changed since the council's final draft.

You can read my entire objection, including comments on elsewhere in the borough here

However, my comments specifically on Sanderstead ward are pasted below. 

MMD86 – I strongly object to the deletion of the Local Green Space designation across the borough and with particular reference to several vital green spaces in Sanderstead: Sanderstead Plantation, The Gruffy, the pond at the top of Sanderstead Hill and Purley Beeches. Should regional protections be changed by a future London Mayor, these spaces would have no protection and would be available for development. This is not in the interests of my residents, who greatly treasure these spaces, all of which have active Friends’ Groups as a testimony to their local importance. There is more detail on my objections to the deletion in principle in the general section below.

MMD38 – Focussed Intensification Zones should be removed in their entirety from the plan, despite the modifications proposed by the Council. I am, however, pleased that the Inspector has deleted the entirety of the proposed Sanderstead (Onslow Gardens) zone. This was in contradiction with other policies (as per my previous two objections at the preceding stages) and its removal is warmly welcomed.

Technically, as the inspector did not substantively change the proposed designation of the area behind Purley Oaks Recycling Centre as a Gypsy and Traveller site, we are not supposed to comment on it. However, given its local importance I did object again in the full letter (link above).

 


 

A Busy Day in Croydon
29/09/2017 13:49:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group – AGM

 I attended the CCG AGM at the CVA and took note of the presentations by Andrew Eyres, the new accountable office and Dr Agenlo Fernandes, the Clinical Chair.  Highlights included improvements to access to mental health services for both adults and children and commissioning of the Health Help Now app.  Croydon residents use more hospital services on average than in other areas, often as a result of unplanned and avoidable hospital admissions.  At the same time the population is growing and is ageing and this results in an increase in the demand for care.

A locally designed new approach to treating urgent care issues is being introduced in 2017-18 which includes the provision of GP Hubs which will provide high quality urgent care services across the borough from 8am to 8pm, 365 days per year.  The service comprises GP hubs, GP out of hours services, the urgent care centre at Croydon University Hospital and a roving GP.  These services will be provided at the minor injury unit sites Purley and Parkway as well as at East Croydon Medical Centre. 

An integrated IT service will allow them to access patient notes to enable them to provide the right care in the right place, first time.  The service will help promote self-care and also a phone before you go model that will utilise the integrated South West London 111 services to ensure patients are correctly signposted to the most appropriate services for their needs.

The CCG will also continue with its Transforming Adult Services programme which ensures more patients are appropriately cared for in community settings, including their own homes. 

Croydon Adult Social Services Users Panel

I also attended a meeting of CASSUP at Jurys Hotel in Croydon to look at how our residents were coping with the new DWP system of PIP and how the most vulnerable in Croydon are dealing with the new assessments.

Sadly the venue was a little cramped and not all guests were able to get into the room to get their points across.  It is imperative that those members who are disabled and struggle with access/facilities are able to seek assistance from the council and I certainly hope that a more suitable venue is found for future events.  The CASSUP event was historically held at Fairfield Halls, which sadly is not yet open and the community space at Bernard Weatherill House, which has disabled access is no longer available for use as it has been rented, ironically to the DWP.

Sanderstead Safer Neighbourhood Police Meeting

The SNT says goodbye to PC Stephen Wilson and welcomes PC Dan Revell to the team.  The team reported on a number of antisocial behaviour incidents in area including some shop lifting.  There have also been a number of break-ins from garages during July.  Motor vehicle crime is made up largely of theft from trade vans with the theft of power tools with 12 of the 19 incidents occurring during the night. They also undertook a road watch scheme along Sanderstead Court Avenue catching up to 20 vehicles going over the speed limit.  Crime in the area, fortunately, remains low with Sanderstead and Selsdon having the lowest figures in the borough.  The Safer Neighbourhood Team can be contacted on 020 8721 2470 – sandertead.snt@met.police.uk

The Met police are looking at becoming more socially active and will be at the Community Day run by Priscillas at Sanderstead Recreation Ground this Saturday.

Riddlesdown Residents’ Association Meeting

My busy day ended with a visit to the RRA which as usual had a packed and varied agenda.  A number of planning applications were of great concern to the committee.  The overdevelopment of housing plots for the development of flats in inappropriate locations with size and massing of greatest concern.

Discussions were held about the main modifications to the Croydon Local Plan.  The Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State to examine the Croydon Local Plan has considered all the duly made representations and the evidence presented to him during the examination.  He has now concluded that further modifications to the Croydon Local Plan are required in order for the plan to be sound.  Comments need to be received by 10 October 2017.  Email ldf@croydon.gov.uk. 

What he stated will not be discussed is the Purley Skyscraper and the gypsy and traveller site at Purley Oaks depot.

One of the concerns raised was the deletion of all local green spaces.  For Sanderstead there has been some success in the protection of the Sanderstead Plantation to Metropolitan Open Land and the removal of the intensification zone for Onslow Gardens. The Policy on protecting back gardens has been merged into a revised policy DM11 Design and Character.

I am personally disappointed about the removal of the policy that limited fast food outlets.  With my Health and Wellbeing hat on I believe we should be doing more to assist in the prevention of obesity, which is above the National Average in the Borough.  Obesity, as we know leads to many other heatlh problems such as diabetes and heart disease. 

If you want to discuss any of the issues raised in my report or have any other local issues you want to take up with us the councillors will be available at 11.00 am to 1pm on Saturday, 30 September in Sanderstead Recreation Ground. We will be sharing a stand with the Sanderstead Residents Association.

 


 

Croydon Disability Forum/Dementia Action Alliance Meeting
13/09/2017 08:56:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley

I attended two very important meeting this week - Croydon Disability Forum and the Dementia Alliance Meeting.  At the Disability Forum concerns were raised in relation to the misuse of blue badges, wheelchair safety on the bus (particularly when wet and slippery) and the closure of high street banks.  Issues were also raised in relation to the new proposal to close some roads around schools, thus preventing the usual access for carers, the delivery of medical equipment and indeed disabled children to schools.  I will submit a number of council questions in relation to the issues raised and hopefully a satisfactory arrangements can be made to allow entry into the zone during the restriction period in exceptional circumstances.

I also attended a meeting of the Dementia Action Alliance Group at the town hall.  I am pleased that an officer has been allocated to this important work - Rachel Carse who starts on 18th Setpember.  Both the Sanderstead Residents' Association and the Riddlesdown Residents' Association are keen to work with the local councillors to raise awareness of dementia in the community.  If you want to become more involved with the work we are doing please do get in touch.

 

 


 

Rec traveller update
06/09/2017 21:29:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard

I contacted officers again today because the traveller group who started to congregate on the Rec last Thursday are still on site.  The council has apparently  served a bye law notice, which is usually successful in forcing groups to move on but that has not been the case with this encampment.  They have therefore had to apply to the court to serve a s77 notice.  This notice has also now been breached so officers now need to go back to Camberwell Court again for the removal order, which may take until Monday.   However, officers have been regularly liaising with the group and they have said that they will leave before the weekend. 

If I get any further information I will post it here.

 


 

Eid prayers in the Rec
01/09/2017 13:35:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard

 
 

Cllr Lynne Hale and I were delighted to be invited to join the community of the Purley Masjid and the South Croydon/Sanderstead Islamic Centre on the day of Eid-al-Adha. Around a thousand people were there on a beautiful morning to take part in a short prayer service.

It was fortunate that the weather was kind, as the organisers had chosen last night to take down the 'just in case' marquee due to the potential issues with a traveller group who had set up an illegal encampment on the other side of the Rec (see separate post).

It was great to see so many people using the park and I hope that this can become an annual event (albeit it moves earlier in the year by ten days every year).

Many thanks to the organisers and Purley Councillor Badsha Quadir for inviting us to be present for a very interesting event.

 


 

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 Older Blog Posts
01/09/2017
Sanderstead Rec travellers
30/08/2017
Local Plan: good news for Sanderstead, not so good elsewhere
29/08/2017
Graffiti
24/08/2017
SGN road works in Hamsey Green
22/08/2017
Borough Grange garden furniture
22/08/2017
Change to Riddlesdown road works
13/08/2017
Dementia Alliance Action Group - Helpful Links
11/08/2017
More roadworks in Sanderstead
03/08/2017
Update on Addington Road Gas Main replacement
31/07/2017
Long term roadworks on Addington Road
21/07/2017
Childhood Obesity - Can we do More?
30/06/2017
A number of Essential Repairs Taking Place in Sanderstead
30/06/2017
Police Update - Theresa's Walk
19/06/2017
Armed Forces Day - Flag Raising - Grenfell Tower Minutes Silence
16/06/2017
South East Cancer Help Centre - Vice Chairman
12/06/2017
Sight lines on Mitchley View
25/05/2017
Gypsy and travelller site
23/05/2017
Intensification zones at local plan hearing
23/05/2017
Fly Tipping - Downsway Sanderstead
22/05/2017
Church Farm Services - Mitchley Avenue
19/05/2017
Field Opposite Riddlesdown Shops on Mitchley Avenue
15/05/2017
Dementia Awareness Week is 14 May to 20 May
11/05/2017
Riddlesdown Collegiate consulting on changing hours
04/05/2017
7-9 Arkwright Road
03/05/2017
Fly tips in Sanderstead
02/05/2017
Anti-skid surface on Rectory Park
24/04/2017
Hamsey Green fly tipping - AGAIN!
24/04/2017
Speeding fines
21/04/2017
Adult Social Care & Health
21/04/2017
Riddlesdown Residents' Association Notice Board - Councillor's Community Budget
 
 
 
 
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