Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Louise Baldock's Motions to Council - 12th December 2007

Here are my motions to council this month, let's hope the LibDems support them, as well as the Labour councillors who have already signed up to them.

The first motion concerns the house improvement work (called "enveloping") being done to the front of houses (mainly) in terms of small walls, gates, brick cleaning, new steps, porches, side gates etc. This has already been done in the Cheviot, Lindale, Middleton area and has started in the Holt Road triangle, a few streets done, and many more to do. The rationale behind my motion is that some people are put off from having the work done because they have not got the cash to pay for it themselves and they dont want to commit to living in the same house for 10 years. It is longer than I have ever lived anywhere myself too so I can sympathise with that.

Another reason is that by forcing people to hang on to their houses for ten years, new people cannot buy these houses from them because they wont sell. Finally it worries me that some people, particularly noticeable in the Holt Road area (Cotswold etc) have not taken up what ought to be a copper-bottomed improvement scheme.

To get the full visual benefit for the neighbourhood we need to see every property signing up for improvements. So we clearly need a taper system in place before we roll this out to more streets.


This Council notes that a grant scheme is available to assist home-owners with enveloping schemes for their properties in HMRI areas.

The Council notes that the grant is repayable if the home-owner sells their house within ten years.

However, this Council is concerned that the full grant is repayable right up until the ten year deadline, so a resident wanting to move house after 9 years would have to repay as much as someone leaving after 1 year.

This Council proposes that the repaying of grant monies should be on a sliding scale of a 10% reducing repayment over the same ten year period. So that if a home-owner leaves after 7 years they will only have to repay 30% of the grant.

This Council welcomes the enveloping scheme which has been designed to benefit the whole of a sustainable neighbourhood, including future residents.

It believes that the repayment of the grant should not act as a block on the desire of local people to move into the new sustainable areas, or a block on residents wishing to move out.

This Council calls on the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing to review the grant scheme and consider introducing a taper.

(If Standing Orders are not suspended the motion will be referred to the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing for consideration and response)

The second motion is one I have submitted with Nick Small, councillor for Central Ward who has part of the Kensington New Deal area in his ward. This refers to selective licensing for private landlords.

Let me explain. In 2004 the Government passed the Housing Act. Amongst other things it allowed that in selective areas chosen because they are suffering from a crisis in housing and where there is strong evidence of anti-social behaviour, it is possible to oblige private landlords to sign up to a set of rules that requires them to ensure that their tenants are well-behaved, do not create disturbances for their neighbours, put their rubbish out on the right day and any other things that show that they are generally good tenants. This would put private landlords in the same bracket as Registered Social Landlords in the selected area.

I made my maiden speech on this subject, about 18 months ago and asked then that Kensington and Fairfield be used as a pilot project.

Subsequently I also distributed a petition to residents suggesting that our area was chosen as a pilot for the scheme, this was overwhelmingly and massively supported.

Now we need to put the pressure on to make this happen, we cannot wait any longer for the council to act in its own good time. Nick and I are in total agreement about this and to add weight to our call we have chosen a part of the geography that is served by three wards, by 5 Labour and 4 LibDem Councillors so we ought to get agreement on all sides of the chamber. That is the plan anyway.

This is our motion


This Council reconfirms its support for selective licensing for private landlords, as passed in motion 118 in July 2006:

“Council notes and welcomes the introduction of licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the Housing Act 2004, which requires all HMOs of three or more stories occupied by five or more people to be licensed by local housing authorities as well as allowing local housing authorities to introduce selective licensing primarily focused on areas of low housing demand (or areas likely to fall into that category) and other areas suffering from anti-social behaviour.

Council further notes the successful voluntary licensing scheme for student landlords operated by Liverpool Student Homes (a joint venture run by the City’s three universities and their respective student unions), which requires providers of student housing to sign up to a Code of Practice, which goes further than the statutory requirements, as a condition of achieving approved status with Liverpool Student Homes (LSH).

Council requests that the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing, while meeting her statutory obligations, works with Liverpool Student Homes to focus enforcement of licensing on those landlords not currently registered with Liverpool Student Homes to avoid duplication.

Council further requests the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the City to determine whether selective licensing would be appropriate in certain parts of the City to address issues of low housing demand and/or anti-social behaviour.”

Council further notes previous motions agreed by this Council calling for mandatory landlord licensing along with the progress already being made by the Council on this issue including:-

66 landlords with 500 properties already accredited through LSH using CLASS (Liverpool City Council Voluntary Landlord Accreditation Scheme).

200 application received for mandatory licensing.

In common with some other local authorities, the Council now calls upon the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing to initiate a pilot scheme for selective licensing for private landlords.

Council asks that the pilot area chosen should be the Kensington New Deal area.

Council believes this will help counter extensive problems with anti-social behaviour and help aid local housing market failure.

(If Standing Orders are not suspended the motion will be referred to the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing for consideration and response)

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