Thursday, 30 July 2009
Parts of Bath have a problem with HMOs. Of course, there's nothing wrong with sharing a house, as such. But there's something seriously wrong with a neighbourhood where most of the houses are HMOs.
This is now the case in the neighbourhoods in parts of Bath. Few live in HMOs for very long, so what this means is a constantly changing population. Constant change breaks the links on which communities depend. As HMOs increase, community spirit decreases. There are now streets in where temporary tenants outnumber longer term residents. The results are all too obvious in the changes that have overtaken these neighbourhoods in the last decade or two.
But it's not only our area which is affected. Most university towns now have concentrations of HMOs. And not only these - there are huge problems in seaside towns where guest-houses have been turned into HMOs, and in many market towns gang masters have bought up HMOs for seasonal workers.
As a result, residents groups from all over the country have joined the National HMO Lobby, a network of community associations pioneered by the Leeds HMO Lobby. Locally the Bath Federation of Residents Associations are members. In addition, there is a parallel national group of local councillors, of which Cllr Shaun McGall Oldfield ward is a member. Don Foster, our MP here in Bath, is a member of the parliamentary Group working on these issues.
Together they have campaigned for ten years to get government nationally to bring in legislation which will enable government locally to resist concentrations of HMOs. They helped to bring in licensing of HMOs with the Housing Act 2004, and the highly successful voluntary local accreditation scheme for HMOs
But licences and accreditation schemes don't resist HMOs - for this, new planning legislation is needed.
At the moment no permission is needed to convert a family house to a HMO - so anyone can do so, landlords, buy-to-let investors, student parents ... There's nothing the Council can do without new powers. So we have been campaigning for a change to the Use Classes Order, the relevant regulation. Colleagues in Loughborough, Nottingham and Southampton have shown ministers what the problems are in their areas. So last year, we got the government to commission a report on HMOs - and this recommended consultation on new legislation. The consultation paper agrees that concentrations of HMOs cause problems. It suggests three courses of action, and is seeking the views of the public on these.
Option 1 is to rely on existing ‘good practice', like the things we've done in Bath to try to tackle the problem - but we know it doesn't work!
Option 2 is to change the Use Classes Order, so that HMOs need planning permission - this is obviously what is needed, and what we've campaigned for so long. On its own it won't solve the problem, but it is essential to prevent it getting any worse, here and elsewhere.
Option 3is a complicated proposal to allow HMOs anywhere at all - except where the government agrees to give special powers to councils in limited areas (Article 4 Directions). This is basically unworkable.
We have until 7 August to persuade the government to act on Option 2.
What can you do to help?
Many Bath Councillors have written make sure that your has as has. Don Foster, our MP here in Bath. So too can you, the more voices the better!
Please join us in writing to the Government if you need help with your letter or email then please contact us.
The email address for replies is:
UCOHMOConsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk (subject: HMO Consultation);
The postal address is:
Planning System Improvement Division,
Department for Communities and Local Government,
The deadline is 7 August 2009.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
If you want to know more about the application or to make a comment then follow the link HERE
To see Major Highway reports for Bath & North East Somerset follow the link HERE
To report a highway repair follow the link HERE
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Friday, 17 July 2009
The opening of a regional fire control centre covering the west country has been delayed until May 2011, Fire Minister Shahid Malik said.
The centre, which is opposed by the fire brigades union, will handle emergency calls from Gloucestershire in the north to Cornwall in the south.
It was supposed to open two years ago, but has been delayed again because of problems with the IT system.
The government said it was a complex project which would deliver benefits.
"In recent months it has become clear that technical problems with developing the IT system in a way which will meet all our and Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) requirements mean that further time is needed to complete the project," said the minister.
Responding to the announcement the Fire Brigades Union said the project was "like Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch with everyone knowing it was dead apart from government which insists it is still alive".
John Drake, Regional Secretary of the FBU said: "It's going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
"The gut reaction is at a time when fire authorities are facing severe financial constraints and cutbacks in public spending it's absolutely immoral the government is throwing huge amounts of tax payers money that' s going nowhere.
"The money would be better used on frontline services throughout the south west."
Regionally the union said the additional 10-month delay will cost a further £1,548,930.
In a statement it said: "The South West Regional Control Centre has cost a total of £2,066,107 in rent and other building costs from the date it was completed until February 2009.
"The government estimates that on-going monthly costs are £154,893 from February 2009 until the date the first fire brigade moves into the building in July 2010.
"Based on those costs, the price from February 2009 to July 2010 will be £2,478,288, making a grand total of £4,544,395 in rents and other costs from completing the building to becoming operational under the old timetable.
The control room at Blackbrook Business Park, Taunton, will cover Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, the greater Bristol area, Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
The facility is one of the government's nine planned regional control centres for England replacing the current 46 control centres.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
The application is for the erection of rear conservatory following demolition of existing lean to conservatory and flat roofed toilet and reinstate railings and gate to front of house at 3 Victoria Place St Saviour's Road Larkhall Bath.
If you want to view this application or make comments then please follow the link by cutting and dropping this into your browser http://planning.bathnes.gov.uk/PublicAccess/tdc/DcApplication/application_detailview.aspx?caseno=KLFA8FCTKL000
There is also a listed building application at the same house and you can view that application by following the link by cutting and dropping this into your browser. http://planning.bathnes.gov.uk/PublicAccess/tdc/DcApplication/application_detailview.aspx?caseno=KLFA9BCTKL000
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Don said, “If only the Conservative Council had listened to what I said at a Council meeting in September, and what Liberal Democrat Councillors have been saying for months: more work was needed into alternative routes, and residents needed to be involved in the process.
“The Council did not heed this advice, and with the proposed-BRT route twice having failed to pass through planning it is time for the Council to go right back to the beginning.
“The Conservatives have mismanaged this process, and could well be putting the government money at risk. Had they taken onboard my comments last autumn, then this would not be the case.”
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
We have just on application this week and that is for the Erection of new dwelling on site of car park at 166A London Road West Lower Swainswick Bath if you would like to view the application and or make a comment then please follow the link http://planning.bathnes.gov.uk/PublicAccess/tdc/DcApplication/application_detailview.aspx?caseno=KKWX34CTKL000
Sunday, 5 July 2009
We would like to thank the residents who we met on Friday evening for giving us such a warm welcome when we called on them as part of Don Foster's team.
We are following up on requests for information from some people and fro particular problems that others have raised. We will be calling on many more residents in the coming weeks and months but if you need to contact Don Foster or a member of the team then please phone on 338973 or write to Don Foster MP 31 James Street West Bath.
A few of Don's team out on Friday 3rd July
Friday, 3 July 2009
It is good news that the Royal United Hospital has been able to put up the extra cash to enable the new Special care baby unit to be built this year.
The appeal still needs to raise another £1.5 million but this is a huge step forward. Many families in Bath have benefited and we know that they will be delighted with this good news.
The Government have axed £2.5 million of funding for a new hostel facility for homeless people in Bath.
"The circumstances relating to the loss of this funding would seem to be another example of the lack of a 'can-do' attitude for which this Council leadership has previously been criticised. It's unfortunate that the Cabinet member failed to broker a compromise with the Homes and Community Agency within the set timescale."
Thursday, 2 July 2009
Lambridge Liberal Democrats and local MP Don Foster launched a petition calling for a Twenty Miles per hour speed limit on all residential roads in our City.
Why not join us in this call by signing our Twenty is Plenty petition by following this link http://ourcampaign.org.uk/twentyisplenty