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."
Fly Tip Bins with Asbestos 14/09/2018 16:21:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
Despite numerous emails to the council it appears they are unable to collect the asbestos that has been dumped at the corner of Briton Hill Road and Arkwright Road on the green. This is a hazardous material and needs careful removal by a specialist contractor. Many residents have contacted me worrying about the dust and particles blowing in the wind and young children who may be impacted passing this on the way to school. Other waste has also been deposited in the bins adding to the problem. Whilst the council have promised to send someone to deal with this two weeks have now passed since the arrival of this waste and no apparent action has taken place. I find this quite worrying. Surely this is urgent.
Recycling Boxes 05/09/2018 10:36:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
The council have agreed to collect the old recycling boxes from residents who have been given wheelie bins. Once the new collection has started old recycling boxes which have been replaced by larger bins will be taken away.
Residents who want the old recycling box collected should empty them and leave them at the front of their property on Monday 24 September. The lids should be placed inside the empty boxes. The boxes will then be collected over the next two weeks.
All residents should receive their new bins before the collection begins but if this does not happen please continue to use your old bins as you had previously.
75% of homes across the borough now have a new collection day. You can check your collection day online.
If your new bins have not yet arrived you can contact our dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8604 7282 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday
How to handle the bin change over 03/09/2018 09:09:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
The Sanderstead councillors have been in pretty much constant contact with officers over the bin changeover (and the woeful service in the weeks leading up to it).
Today is changeover day and that means you should be putting out the new containers from today. It also means you may well have a different collection day. In theory every resident should have had a leaflet setting out their new schedule, but this clearly hasn't always worked (I didn't get a leaflet in my home, for example).
If you are online you can check your new colection schedule using the Croydon 'My Account', for which you will need to have registered for an account (this is instant, so you can do it now if you haven't already).
I understand that this week Veolia will collect from the old containers if that's what a resident puts out, but that's for this week only. Unfortunately they didn't use that sensible approach last week, when many residents were conned by the hanging tag on their bin the week before telling them to now use the new containers. What the council meant by that was 'in two weeks time you'll use this bin for plastic/cans but next week it's paper in the box as usual', but unfortunately it was not at all clear and as a result many residents put the paper out in the new blue bin, which Veolia duly ignored.
I also brought to officers' attention that the web site was stilll refering in words and pictures for colllecting boxes this week, as nobody had remebered to update that! I believe this has now been corrected.
Unfortunately I suspect that the number of calls is not going to go down - not least because some residents are STILL trying to get the council to deliver their new bins, which are the only thing they will colllect from from now on. It's going to be a fun-filled fortniight!
Waste Services - Change of System 31/08/2018 17:17:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
As residents in Sanderstead will be aware the system of collecting are waste and recycling is changing. I have included part of an email from the director of services which may be of help if residents experience problems.
"As with all service changes of this magnitude in the initial weeks of the new service, it is anticipated there will be disruption and missed collections. Veolia have resources in place to ensure this is kept to a minimum. However, residents will be reminded via social media messages and the FAQ section on the website to report any missed collections under the new service via the normal reporting processes or via the postcode lookup page www.croydon.gov.uk/waste-recycling-collection. Please do not use the dedicated telephone lines or the waste services email address.
I have also taken the opportunity of including the link to the council’s web site where you can find full details regarding the new service.
I would also like to remind you the dedicated telephone number and email address for residents to contact council officers about their specific circumstances is operational, we have seen a rise in the number of calls over this week, the operator are coping with call volumes but during peak periods of the day residents may find it difficult to get through.
The details for these are:
email - email@example.com
phone number – 020 8604 7282 (lines are open between 9am and 5pm"
If for any reason you are unable to resolve your issues via the council please do not hesitate to contact your local councillors in the usual way.
Update on wheelie bin rollout 17/07/2018 07:46:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
Council officers have today updated councillors about the progress towards the new 'improved' bin collection service.
Most Sanderstead houses have received their bins now, as we know from our postbag of residents asking where they are supposed to put this explosion of bins! I won't rehearse the arguments for and (mostly) against what is being done, save to say that in my opinion the council could have gone for a much more elegant combined recycling bin solution which would have reduced the number of bins required.
There are various questions people have been asking, where I have pasted below the council's response, some of which I have shortened.
Where can residents go for more information? • The website contains information about the service change, leaflets to download and a comprehensive list of FAQs – www.croydon.gov.uk/recycling Residents wishing to discuss their individual circumstances further can contact a council officer using: • a dedicated email - firstname.lastname@example.org • a dedicated phone number – 020 8604 7282 (lines open between 9am and 5pm)
The dedicated telephone number and mailbox went live on Thursday 28 June. These are attracting on average 650 calls and 400 email per week and about a third of these are requesting site visits. About 150 site visits have been undertaken to date with approximately one third of these suggesting the properties are not suitable for the new service identified and therefore, will continue with their current configuration.
What can I do with my old boxes if I no longer need them after September? You will need to continue to use your boxes until September. After this, you can keep them and use them around the home for storage, or take them to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre at Fishers Farm, Factory Lane or Purley Oaks and place them in with the ‘rigid plastics’. We will be offering a booked collection service for residents who need it once the new service starts in September - more details to follow.
What if I don’t have space for the new bins? We have surveyed the borough and will be delivering the best combination of bins for different property types depending on the different space available. Please note that the footprint of the new bins is approximately the same as the boxes, so if you currently have the boxes for recycling your property will most probably be suitable for wheeled bins. Please try using the service for a few weeks. If you’re genuinely struggling to find space to store the bins, get in touch with us and we’ll visit your property to assess and, if necessary, make alternative arrangements.
What if I don’t have space to store the new bins until I can use them? Please deliver them later. With more than 200,000 new bins to distribute across the borough, this is going to take some time and some people may have to store their bins for up to eight weeks. We are trying to deliver bins first to areas of the borough where houses generally have more outdoor space. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.
I don’t need such large bins for recycling, can I have a smaller one or continue to use boxes? The changes we are making are designed to encourage more recycling and to create enough capacity for this both now and in the future. For this reason we chose the 240L bin for paper and card and to re-use the existing general waste wheelie bin for other mixed recycling. Standardising the use of wheelie bins as much as possible improves efficiency and helps to generate the £5m cost savings from introducing the new contract, as well as the additional £2m over 10 years for increasing recycling rates.
What if all of my general waste cannot fit inside the new 180L wheelie bin? From October 2018, excess general waste placed on top of or next to your bin will not be collected. All non-recyclable household waste must be placed inside the general waste wheelie bin and the lid kept shut. However, if you live in a household of five or more, or have a medical condition that means you generate additional rubbish, you may be eligible for a larger bin. We recommend that residents wait until the new service is running and they have tried using it for a few weeks before making contact.
What consultation took place about the changes? Specific consultation on the detail of the new contract wasn’t possible due to the way the new contract was procured by the four boroughs under the South London Waste Partnership.
Road works in Hamsey Green 17/07/2018 07:23:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
Essex utilities on behalf of Southern Gas Networks have begun their scheme to replace gas mains in the area between Wentworth Way and the borough boundary at Tithe Pitt Shaw Lane. In order to enable these works there will be side road closures and temporary lights on Limpsfield Road. The lights will be manually controlled through the peak flows. Letter drops and advanced warning for affected residents have apparently taken place. Any works that remain after the school holiday can only continue if their existence has no impact on the carriageway or pedestrians.
Whilst these works are ongoing, it was highlighted recently that it is necessary for other works to take place on Surrey Councils side of the border, namely Wentworth Road junction with Tithe Pitt Shaw Lane. Council officers have agreed these works, on the understanding temporary lights at the junction are delayed until after the works on Limpsfield and surrounding roads are completed.
Sanderstead Residents Association - Waitrose - 4 August - 10am 12/07/2018 10:13:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
Sanderstead Residents Association will be on hand at Waitrose between 10 and 12pm on Saturday, 4 August. Members will available to talk to residents about the good work they carry out in the area and assistance they give in relation to a number of local concerns. They work very closely with the councillors who jointly support numerous issues ranging from planning applications to organising events. Established in 1926 The Sanderstead Ratepayers' Association was formed, later to be known as the Sanderstead Residents' Assocication. Denis King, the chairman and his team will be happy to support you. Membership is only £5 for which you receive two colour magazines posted to your doorstep and access to the committee's expertise.
New Bin Delivery 12/07/2018 10:10:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
The new bins are being rolled out in Sanderstead this week. Do ensure you read the instructions attached to the bin and let the council know if you haven't received your new bins. Any problems or issues of course your local Sanderstead team are here to help.
A New Bus Seat at Sanderstead Recreation Ground Bus Stop 11/07/2018 10:14:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
A number of elderly residents contacted the local councillors asking if a seat could be installed by the bus stop at Sanderstead Recreation Ground. In this particularly warm weather it is good to have the opportunity to take a little rest whilst waiting for the 403. I am pleased that the local councillors have been able to fund a new bench for residents from their community budget.
New Crossing - Addington Road 03/07/2018 21:17:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
I am pleased to inform you that the proposed works for an informal crossing on Addington Road by the junction with Harbledown Road is due to start on Monday 30th July until 5th August. Hopefully this won't cause too much disruption and will of course improve the safety of crossing this very busy road.
Please do contact us with any issues or concerns you may have. We answer all our constituents' correspondence and value your comments. If you want your concern addressed by your local team, please follow the link above.