HOW HIGH CAN WE ALLOW DEVELOPERS TO BUILD?

Focus has previously reported on the massive high rise flat developments in Waltham Forest.

Forest Ward Focus Team members were with residents at the Planning Committee when the Council agreed the over development of buildings, of up to 18 storeys, in Lea Bridge Road.

Only recently Leyton Focus Team member Bob Sullivan and residents spoke against the 16 storey block at the end of Dunedin Road.

It appears that developers are having a field day as the Council continually agree the building of unaffordable multi high rise flats in the borough.

The latest plan submitted by the owners of the Mall shopping centre in Walthamstow is to build four blocks including one of 27 storeys!  Currently local residents have presented a 2,000 plus petition to the Council in protest against the plans. If you would like to support the local residents then contact ‘Save Walthamstow Town Centre’ on line: SAVE OUR TOWN CENTRE

Focus says:  In our experience the Labour Council never listens to residents and carries on agreeing the over development of every bit of land for multi high rise unaffordable flats.

FAMILIES CHEATED OUT OF THEIR HOMES

Fred Wigg and Joihn Walsh Towers, Montague Road

In November a packed meeting of tenants voted for the option of refurbishment of kitchens and bathrooms for John Walsh and Fred Wigg tower blocks in Leytonstone. 
Tenants Ignored
However, the Labour Council over-ruled the tenants, agreeing a plan to strip back the towers to the core, completely refurbish the flats and build a smaller block between them.
Labour Selling Off Flats
Brand new flats for the tenants?  No! The Council wants to sell off one of the blocks to the private sector, thus reducing the number of Council flats from 232 to 160!  Waltham Forest has thousands of families on the waiting list, so a further reduction of affordable homes will dash the hopes of many people.  In effect Labour is getting rid of tenants who are, in the main, less well-off and inviting wealthy people to buy up the flats.
Labour MP and councillors ignore cries for help
The residents have asked their Labour MP and Labour councillors for help but they stay quiet.  They have even been ignored by one of their Labour councillors who was once a tenant in one of the blocks!

Focus says:

The Council has said tenants can go back once the refurbishment is complete.  This is rubbish as there will not be enough flats to house all of them!  One of the tenants has said “The Council is treating us worse than something stuck on their shoe”.

Focus will keep you informed of the tenants’ campaign to save their homes.

LONDON ASSEMBLY LIB DEM PROPOSALS

Improving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes, and making fares much fairer

Improstephen_vince_small.jpgving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes and making fares much fairer are at the centre of a radical set of proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group in their amendment to the Mayor’s budget.

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting at City Hall where the London Assembly will consider the Mayor’s draft budget Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group said:

There are real social and environmental pressures facing London as our population rapidly grows. Our proposals are firmly rooted in meeting these challenges.

Our Lib Dem plan will deliver cleaner air and less congested roads. It will deliver a better environment for every Londoner.

Our changes to the Mayor’s budget will also provide more affordable homes, helping to address London’s chronic shortage of homes for people on low and middle incomes, helping to keep families living in the capital.

We will also make London a fairer city. We would reverse the Mayor’s harsh fare hike facing off peak travellers who live in outer London. And in every part of the capital we will drive up the adoption of the London Living Wage and ensure real action is taken against rogue landlords.

Key aspects of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly budget amendment include:

  • Tackling London’s appalling air pollution and also reducing congestion on our roads, which is currently a huge burden for London’s businesses. Specific proposals include smart congestion charging; the introduction of a workplace parking levy in central London and real action to reduce diesel vehicles entering central London.
  • Reversing the immense fare hike on off peak travel for people in outer London. Other key fare changes include the introduction of a one hour bus ticket and lower fares for people travelling on all Tube, DLR and TfL Overground services before 7.30 am.
  • Making London a more attractive city to travel around by foot and on bike, including expanding the cycle hire scheme into south east London and better provision for cyclists across the whole capital
  • Creating a new £2 billion housing investment fund – funded by prudential borrowing – more than doubling the number of affordable homes delivered across London
  • Cutting waste in the Metropolitan Police Service such as the provision of chauffeur driven cars and flats for senior police officers, but strengthening Safer Neighbourhood Teams and putting extra resources into the teams that investigate rape and sexual assault against children.
  • Making London a fairer place through real action against rogue landlords and the wider adoption of the London Living Wage.

WHY CAN’T THE U.K. BUILD 240,000 HOUSES A YEAR?

Images of housebuilding (clockwise from top left): house under construction; digger; "sold" sign; bricks; bricklayer

In 2007 the Labour government set a target for 240,000 homes to be built a year by 2016. The UK is nowhere near that. Why?

For decades after World War Two the UK used to build more than 300,000 new homes a year. Recently it’s managed about half that.

The country is facing up to a housebuilding crisis. A decade ago, the Barker Review of Housing Supply noted that about 250,000 homes needed to be built every year to prevent spiralling house prices and a shortage of affordable homes.

That target has been consistently missed – the closest the UK got was in 2006-07 when 219,000 homes were built. In 2012-13, the UK hit a post-war low of 135,500 homes, much of which was due to the financial crisis. Last year the figure recovered slightly to 141,000 homes. Labour’s 2007 target has been dropped by the coalition.

In May 2014, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England,complained that housebuilding in the UK was half that of his native Canada, despite the UK having a population twice the size. The consequences have been rocketing prices in London, the South East and some other parts of the country.

How did it become so hard to build houses?

Planning permission

Big digger on edge of countryside

About 95% of housebuilders surveyed this year thought that the “modest” industry target to build 200,000 new homes a year by 2016 was unachievable.

The planning system and local opposition to building were two of the main reasons cited. The Home Builders Federation says that while things have improved recently the planning system is “still far too slow, bureaucratic and expensive”.

And yet the government announced recently that in the year to September 2014, the number of planning permissions for new homes reached 240,000. Housing minister Brandon Lewis says that it’s a sign the government’s planning reforms are working.

In 2012, the government attempted to simplify the planning system by introducing a slimmed-down National Planning Policy Framework. Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics, says the NPPF is working. “In the past, planning was a big part of why we didn’t hit our targets.”

The HBF says it can still be slow to get from outline to detailed planning. There are over 150,000 plots for new homes with outline planning permission that are stuck in the system waiting for detailed permission, says HBF spokesman Steve Turner. But the steady rise in detailed planning permissions being granted over the last four years – from 158,000 in 2011, 189,000 in 2012, 204,000 in 2013 and 2014’s 240,000 figure – shows that the planning system is speeding up, says the government.

Graph

Chris Walker, head of housing and planning at think tank Policy Exchange says the 240,000 is a positive step. The question is whether the upward trend will carry on. It could just be a correction after the low levels of building following the financial crisis. And not all permissions are built, many expire. “We probably won’t get to 200,000 on the back of that 240,000,” Walker says.

The government has abolished national and regional planning housebuilding targets. Leaving everything to local decision-making encourages Nimbyism, says Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association. She cites a doubling of legal challenges on local plans by planning inspectors who are picking councils up on not assessing their housing needs properly. “There’s a lot of pressure from politicians in certain areas to suppress housing figures.”

But housing minister Brandon Lewis says the rising number of permissions shows the tide is turning. And he rejects the idea that replacing regional planning targets with local decision-making has increased Nimbyism. He points to the British Social Attitudes survey, which showed a 19% rise in the number of people who support homes being built in their area.

Lack of available land

Sign reads "land reserved for future development"

For homelessness charity Shelter a shortage of available building land is the main reason for the housing shortage. “We fail to provide enough land at prices that make it possible to build decent, affordable homes,” a spokesman says. Land prices have inflated “massively”, Shelter says. Residential land prices rose 170% from 2000 to 2007 compared to house prices which rose 124%, according to the IPPR.

Land is the main long-term constraint, agree both the private sector HBF and the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations. The NHF says that local plans drawn up by councils often fail to identify enough land to meet local housing needs.

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokeswoman says: “We’re well on track to have released enough formerly used, surplus public sector land for 100,000 homes by the end of this parliament – and the Autumn Statement included plans to identify similar land for an additional 150,000 homes in the next five years.”

This will help, says Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. But public sector land is only a small part of the picture. Private landholders needs to be encouraged to release sites for homes.

One of the most controversial areas of possible reform is around the greenbelt – the protected zones around urban areas in the UK. It would help to relax the rules, Blackburn argues. Often the greenbelt could be built on with green space released elsewhere to compensate, he says.

Councils have always been able to build on the green belt in special circumstances. In August 2014 it was reported that 15 homes are approved on the greenbelt every day. And in October communities secretary Eric Pickles responded by saying he would be tighten the government’s new planning rules on the subject of the greenbelt. While many in the planning and construction industries might like the greenbelt to be opened up to building “where appropriate”, politicians are unlikely to agree to something so controversial with voters.

Housebuilders sit on land and hold back homes

EbbsfleetE
Ebbsfleet awaits development as a new garden city

Housebuilders in possession of large sites will often develop them gradually rather than build and sell the homes off quickly, says Pointon.

It’s supply and demand – release a few at a time and the price remains high. Release a lot at once and the value of the properties falls.

“By building them out more slowly it means they can maximise the value of their assets,” Pointon says.

It may be in their business interest to do this, says Henderson. But what it means for the country is that developers are sitting on land for houses that could be put on the market and relieve the housing shortage. It shows the need for the state to take charge of developing large sites so that not all the homes are under the control of the big housebuilders, she says.

The HBF says that big sites take years to develop. “Housebuilders can only build at the rate a local market will support,” says Steve Turner. “You cannot build out a site for 5,000 houses instantly or indeed put them up for sale in a local market at once. So when local authorities are drawing up their local plans it’s imperative they include more smaller sites and not just a few large ones which inevitably take years to build out.”

The State no longer builds

British Minister of Housing Aneurin Bevan (1897 - 1960) opens the 500th permanent house built since the end of World War II by Elstree Rural Council, 25th March 1949
March 1949: Aneurin Bevan opens the 500th permanent house built in Elstree since the end of WW2

Between the late 1940s and late 1950s councils built more homes than the private sector. Right up to the late 1970s local authorities were building 100,000 homes a year. But with the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 housebuilding by local authorities fell.

Private sector construction rose, but not by enough to compensate for the fall in public sector building. Housing associations were supposed to fill the gap but have come nowhere near the state’s building figures, says Glyn Robbins, a supporter of pressure group Defend Council Housing. Councils’ exit from housebuilding is “fundamental” to today’s housing shortage, he believes.

Kate Henderson, of the Town and Country Planning Association, agrees. The current failure to build anything like the numbers from the 1950s and 1960s – when councils were building as many homes as the total housebuilding figure today – shows the private sector is incapable of delivering on its own, she says.

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A brief history of social housing

  • End of WW1 and the “Homes fit for heroes” campaign leads to Housing Act 1919 which requires councils to provide housing
  • Destruction of thousands of houses during WW2 sparks major boom in council housing, shaped by New Towns Act 1946 and Town and Country Planning Act 1947
  • Council tenants given the right to buy their homes by the Housing Act 1980, introduced in the early days of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government
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Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are arguing for the state to once again commission and build homes. It may not be the mass council housing of old though. Today they talk about development corporations that can buy up the land and work with other partners to build housing for different tenures – Labour calls its model New Homes Corporations. It’s rather like the New Towns, says Henderson. “Once you grant planning permission the value shoots up,” says Henderson. “So the state can capture that and deliver affordable housing.” Garden cities are ripe for this kind of development corporation approach, she says.

But Brandon Lewis says that the government’s flagship garden city of Ebbsfleet will be developed mainly by the private sector. He is cautious about the state getting involved in housebuilding – the country has to “live within its means”. But he does point to the government’s extra investment for councils to help them build new affordable homes across the country.

It is not quite right to say the private sector has never managed to build enough homes on its own. It did so, albeit in the 1930s. The number of houses built by the private sector rose from 133,000 in 1931-32 to 293,000 in 1934-35 and 279,000 in 1935-36. However it was a very different economic context – the UK was trying to stimulate its economy after the Great Depression and mortgage conditions were very different to today.

Housing associations hamstrung

Housing association-owned flats in Lewisham, south London

Since the state stopped building homes, non-profit making housing associations have been given the job of providing social housing. In 2013 housing associations built 21,600 homes. The Policy Exchange says that number could increase radically if regulation of housing associations is relaxed.

The NHF agrees that its members’ building ambitions are thwarted by unnecessary restrictions. There are rules over how they set their rents, how properties are let and how housing stock is valued for lending purposes. These all reduce housing associations’ ability to borrow money for housebuilding, says Rachel Fisher, head of policy at the NHF.

And then there’s money. The 2010 Spending Review reduced the DCLG’s annual housing spending – which supports social housing – by about 60% to £4.5bn for the four years starting 2011-12, compared with £8.4bn over the previous three years.

This is at a time when an estimated 1.7 million people are on the social housing waiting register in England. A DCLG spokeswoman says the government has provided over 200,000 affordable homes since 2010. It will deliver 275,000 more affordable homes between 2015 and 2020, leading to the fastest rate of affordable housebuilding for two decades, she adds.

Skills and materials shortages

Builders on a site in Birmingham

What is holding up building in the short term is a lack of materials and labour, says Pointon. The surge in demand in late 2013 and early 2014 led to materials such as bricks running out.

Construction workers left the industry during the financial crisis and the industry has struggled to recruit enough skilled labour to catch up with increasing demand. It will take some time before enough workers retrain to work in construction, he says. In November 2014, the government set out a range of steps to try to recruit new construction workers. One of the proposals suggested bringing former military personnel on to building sites.

Fewer small builders

Builder on site carrying hod

Today housebuilding is concentrated in fewer hands. The financial crisis hit housebuilders hard. In 2007, there were 15 firms providing more than 2,000 homes a year. The following year there were just six.

Small housebuilders – those building fewer than 100 homes a year – built just 20,000 homes in 2013, the Financial Times reported. A decade earlier it had been 51,000. A survey in 2014 by trade body the National House Building Council found that half of small builders cited banks’ reluctance to lend as a serious problem.

The government says it has put in place a range of measures to support small builders. For instance, builders of 10 or fewer homes do not have to pay costly Section 106 affordable housing and tariff style contributions. And it has offered a £525m Builders Finance Fund to get work restarted on stalled smaller sites.

Signs outside newly built homes read "Ask about our Help To Buy scheme"
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WHAT WALTHAM FOREST LABOUR PARTY DOES WHEN IT GETS FULL CONTROL OF THE COUNCIL

Illustration by Eva Bee
Illustration by Eva Bee

What is powerlessness? Try this for a definition: you stand to lose the home where you’ve lived for more than 20 years and raised two boys. And all your neighbours stand to lose theirs. None of you have any say in the matter. Play whatever card you like – loud protest, sound reason, an artillery of facts – you can’t change what will happen to your own lives.

Imagine that, and you have some idea of what Sonia Mckenzie is going through. In one of the most powerful societies in human history – armed to the teeth and richer than ever before – she apparently counts for nothing. No one will listen to her, or the 230-odd neighbouring households who face being wrenched from their families and friends. All their arguments are swallowed up by silence. And the only reason I can come up with for why that might be is that they’ve committed the cardinal sin of being poor in a rich city.

Sonia lives in one of the most famous landmarks in east London. The Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers are the first things you see getting off the train at Leytonstone High Road station; they hulk over every conversation on the surrounding streets and the football matches on Wanstead Flats. Since completion in the 1960s, they’ve provided affordable council homes with secure tenancies to thousands of families. Named after two local councillors, they are a testament in bricks and mortar to a time when the public sector felt more of a responsibility to the people it was meant to protect, and exercised it too.

And so they must go. Last month, Waltham Forest council agreed on a plan to strip back the two high-rises to their concrete shells, rebuild the flats, and in effect flog off one of the towers to the private sector. In between Fred and John, it will put up a third block.

What’s this long and costly job (£44m is the starting estimate) in aid of? Not to build more council homes. Amid London’s worst housing crisis since the aftermath of the second world war, local politicians plan to cut the number of council flats on the site from 225 to 160. You can guess what the rest will be: luxury flats sold as investments to foreign investors and buy-to-letters for half a million pounds a pop, and some “affordable” units to serve as PR mitigation. This is in a borough where 20,000 households are waiting for a council property.

Nor is this a choice being forced on the Labour-run council because of spending cuts and tough choices, and all that blah. By its own estimates, the project will blow about £14m of public money. Councillors admit it would be far easier and cheaper to repair and refurbish the blocks. It would also leave the borough with more social housing, and Sonia and her neighbours in peace.

Here, then, is a scheme that is expensive, illogical and unpopular. How does a local government push it through? By cheating. A strong term, but I challenge you to follow the sequence and not use it too.

First, council staff outlined the options to a few handfuls of households, without giving any detailed written explanations. Sonia remembers how one of the meetings was combined with a mini-funfair, where children from the estate were given candy floss. Then last summer officials produced a scientific-looking survey of residents, to capture how they felt about the proposed “improvements”, though there were still no details.

When residents finally found out what the council’s proposals would mean for them, they kicked off. A petition went round the estate, rejecting the grand scheme and calling for cheaper and less intrusive rebuilding: 60% of the residents signed up. Then came a November public meeting attended by more than a hundred angry people, at which council representatives were shouted down, and residents organised an impromptu vote against the council proposals. They begged for assistance from their Labour MP and their Labour councillors. No one helped.

So: a council decides to play at speculative property development (and local council taxpayers should pray that London’s housing bubble doesn’t pop over the next five years). It keeps residents in the dark over what its plans mean. And in the face of the eventual and inevitable protest, it pretends they aren’t happening, referring to “a handful” of malcontents. The easiest way to prove that is by offering residents a vote, as Westminster council did recently with one of its schemes. Fat chance of that happening here.

Just underneath the municipal formalities runs a thick vein of contempt from the representatives for the people they are meant to represent – and from a Labour party machine to what was once its core vote.

“The council is treating us worse than something stuck on their shoe,” says Sonia. And although she’s lived in the area her entire life, she knows that she and her son – now finishing off his A-levels – have become second-class citizens. They are reminders of Waltham Forest’s past as one of the most deprived boroughs in all of England.

Thanks to the inflation in the capital’s house prices, the area has recently become home to a new group of the relatively well-to-do. Having tasted gentrification, local politicians want more. “The Council wants to make the borough a place where high- and middle-income people choose to live and can afford,” reads Waltham Forest’s core strategy.

What they want to do with low-income people doesn’t need mission statements. Earlier this year the council tried to shift a soup kitchen run by a Christian charity out of the town centre, where it had been for 25 years, to an industrial estate in a layby off a dual carriageway. The soup kitchen and the poor people it attracted got in the way of the council’s “growth strategy”. Only the intervention of a judge forced a retreat.

In the run-up to what’s likely to be the tightest general election in years, both politicians and commentators are already bemoaning British voters: they don’t know what they want, they’re incoherent, they’re apathetic. But Sonia in Waltham Forest can tell you what a nonsense those charges are. If politicians can strip a part of the electorate of its voice, pretend to consult when really they mean boss about, and then ignore the comeback, they really mustn’t be surprised when voters forgo the ballot box for simmering resentment.

‘ROGUE’ LANDLORDS CONSULTATION

Posted December 12, 2013

The Council has recently launched a consultation into Liberal Democrat proposals to tackle rogue landlords.  This consultation was launched following a Lib Dem motion to the Council last year.

Landlord licensing has recently been introduced in the neighbouring borough of Newham and if we can introduce this law in our borough then it would require all landlords in a selected area to be licensed.  If landlords did not meet certain standards and conditions then their license could be revoked, stopping them from renting out property.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan says: 

“Many residents are suffering in properties that just aren’t up to standard and paying too much for poor housing that is blighted by anti-social behaviour.  Selective licensing could give control to the Council to stop these rogue landlords from operating.”

Please see the Council’s draft document for information and consultation

http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/Pages/News/selective-licensing.aspx

LABOUR ‘SHOULD APOLOGISE FOR SOCIAL HOUSING FAILURE’

Posted November 28, 2013

The following article appeared in the London Evening Standard on 11th November:

Published: 11 November 2013

Updated: 13:34, 11 November 2013

Labour should “apologise” for its poor record of building social housing, the party’s own London housing spokesman has said.

Tom Copley said it galled him that Margaret Thatcher’s government built more council flats and houses in a single year than Tony Blair and Gordon Brown managed over 13 years in power.

His remarks were attacked as too “bleak” by one of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s top lieutenants. But the Coalition Government’s housing minister said Mr Copley was right and called on Mr Miliband to say sorry.

At a conference organised by think tank the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, Mr Copley spoke about his role as Labour’s housing spokesman on the London Assembly.

He said: “As a Labour politician one of the things that really galls me is that there’s this statistic that more council homes were built in the last year of Thatcher’s government than were built in the 13 years of Labour government, and that’s something I think as a Labour Party we need to apologise for.” Official figures show only 6,330 council houses were completed from 1998 to 2010, compared with 17,710 in 1990 alone, which was Baroness Thatcher’s final year as prime minister. In one Labour year, 2004, the number fell to just 130 council homes completed.

Mr Copley called on his party not to “repeat this mistake”. He said Labour should allow councils to borrow more  for social housing without it counting as a rise in the national debt, to fund a mass house-building programme. But at the same event, Mr Miliband’s Commons aide Karen Buck, MP for Westminster North, said Labour’s record “wasn’t as bleak and hopeless as some critics would have us believe”.

Conservative housing minister Kris Hopkins, said: “Labour failed an entire generation by not building enough houses but Ed Miliband has been too weak to apologise.”

Waltham Forest Lib Dem Group Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“It is about time that the truth came out. We have heard a lot of Labour Party propaganda rubbishing the achievements of the Coalition Government may be the Labour Party should now apologise for letting down the Country by not building enough homes in the 13 years of Labour Government.”

PRESS RELEASE: Lib Dems welcome new bailiff laws

Waltham Forest Lib Dem leader Cllr Bob Sullivan has welcomed the new laws to tackle aggressive bailiffs planned by the coalition government next year.

Under the new laws, bailiffs will be stopped from using any physical contact when dealing with people who owe money and will be banned from entering people’s homes at night, or entering properties where children are alone.

They will also be banned from fixing their own fees and will have to follow a set fee scale.

Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“This is a welcome proposal from the coalition government that can’t come soon enough. I’ve had to deal with residents’ problems with over-zealous bailiffs for a long time and I can’t understand why the last Labour government let the current situation drag on for 13 years.

“Just because someone is in financial difficulty it shouldn’t mean they can be taken advantage of. Bailiffs should be forced to play by the rules and ensure fairer treatment for our most vulnerable residents.”

PRESS RELEASE: Labour cut free rat catching service

This year the Labour council will bring an end to their free rat catching service by introducing a new charge of £25.

They are also increasing the cost of pest control in other areas, putting up the cost of dealing with mice for those on council tax benefit from £60 to £75, a 22% increase.

Lib Dems have criticised the move saying it will cause more problems than it solves.

Lib Dem Environment spokesperson Councillor Mahmood Hussain said:

“This is a false economy. A growing rat population affects everyone. For every person that is put off reporting rats by this new charge, rats will spread further and faster across the Borough.

“Mice are a growing problem for residents too and it can often take two or three visits before they are cleared from your home, landing you with a bill of hundreds of pounds.”

“Just like their u-turns over parking charges and the living wage last year, it wouldn’t cost Labour much to reverse these bad decisions and back the priorities of residents.”

Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“Lib Dems will be finding money in our alternative budget to show that the Labour council could cut charges for mice and keep the rat service free if they wanted to.”

PRESS RELEASE: TACKLING ROGUE LANDLORDS

At the recent full council meeting, councillors voted in favour of a Liberal Democrat motion to introduce Selective Licensing in the Borough.

Selective licensing has recently been introduced across the whole of the neighbouring borough of Newham. Once in place the law requires that all landlords in the area are licensed and that license can then be revoked if certain conditions aren’t met.

Lib Dems want to use it to tackle rogue landlords and in particular the growth of anti-social behaviour in private rented properties, which now make up 32% of the Borough’s housing stock.

The motion called for a full consultation on proposals to introduce selective licensing in the Borough to tackle rogue landlords, although this was diluted by a Labour amendment, which instead simply referred to ‘an evaluation’.

Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Councillor Winnie Smith, who moved the motion said:

“We’re pleased that the council are now seriously looking into selective licensing. And we hope that the Labour group will now stick to the spirit of the motion and push forward with selective licensing.

“There is a clear need to tackle the growing problem of rogue landlords in the Borough. As we heard from Leyton resident Sharon Crossland in the council meeting, there are landlords in our borough that just aren’t playing by the rules and there is only so much that can be done at the moment without this new licensing power.”

“Many residents are suffering in properties that just aren’t up to standard and paying too much for poor housing that’s blighted by anti-social behaviour.”