Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Scandal of Brighton and Hove City Council's Empty Homes

I saw an empty home in Portslade on Thursday, covered in ivy. I don't know if it belongs to Brighton and Hove City Council or not, but, given that their own 'temporary housing' facility on Preston Road stands empty, it would hardly be surprising.

The Council, which must rank as one of the most inept, inefficient and uncaring in the entire country (I've worked for them, so I have first hand knowledge), claim that there is nowhere for the homeless of Brighton to go, so, if they don't have a 'local connection', they try to deport them back to whatever town with which they no longer have a connection because Brighton is 'full'.

It is nothing but a bare-faced lie. Brighton is not 'full'. It is full of people who don't like the homeless and who see the transients and poor of Brighton as a problem, or a social evil. So it is with joy that I am able to congratulate The Argus on reporting on this story, the scandal of Brighton and Hove City Council's Empty Homes. The Argus reports that...

'Private properties are standing empty for up to 17 years. The revelation comes at a time when more than 11,000 people in Brighton and Hove are on the housing register. It also follows claims it is costing Brighton and Hove City Council about £1.6 million a year to keep its 113 empty properties under local authority ownership.

One council property in Newhaven Street, Brighton has been empty since February 2009. According to estimates, it costs £14,000 a year to keep properties empty. This is made up of lost rent (about £3,640), 50% of the total council tax (£700), and the cost of putting a family in temporary accommodation (housing benefit of about £190 a week).

A spokesman for the council confirmed the number of empty residential properties it owned amounted to less than 1% of its total stock. He added the Newhaven Street property is being reassessed after it suffered flood damage from a bust cold water storage tank. Meanwhile four properties are expected to be bought under compulsory purchase orders.

The plan is expected to be given the go-ahead at the council’s housing cabinet meeting next week. It includes a property in Preston Park ward which is not registered with the land registry and has been empty since at least 1993.

Despite numerous letters to the private owners, the council officers have said this is the “only means of bringing them back into use”. A spokesman for the council added: “We have a proactive approach to working with owners of empty properties to bring them back into use.

The property pictured above is in Manor Way, Brighton, on a website called Report Empty Homes. It is a pleasant thing indeed, to be able to commend The Argus for reporting yet another scandal running to the heart of the local authority. It is a great insult to George and Diane and many, many others housed in squalid temporary hostels in Brighton, which, indeed, exploit them to the full, for the Council to have so many empty homes, yet to turn around to them and say there is no accommodation in Brighton for them. It is an insult to any homeless individual in this town, whether they are from this town or not, to have so many empty homes remain vacant. It is a grave injustice.


Dominic Mary said...

This actually applies both to this and the previous post.

Clearly there's a major problem in Brighton & Hove; and although it's by no means the only place that has the problems, that is absolutely no excuse.

Can't someone find a sympathetic lawyer, and the fairly small amount of money that would be needed for a Court Fee, and seek Judicial Review of the Council's gross failure to fulfil its Statutory functions ?

The bureaucrats want the jobs, and the Councillors want the prestige : fine - providing they do what they're there to do. If they don't, then they should be made to - and humiliated in the process for their abject failure to show any care and concern for their fellows.

Also, if you act now, you may get some reaction from the Parliamentary Candidates who don't want to be smeared by association with the rabble who run the Council !

Physiocrat said...

There would be few empty properties if most existing taxes (which punish people for honest work), were replaced by a single national tax on the value of land. People would then enjoy tax-free earnings and property owners could simply not afford to keep places empty.

Councils would have to keep an eye on their vacant places as it would be costing them a packet in tax to leave them empty.

This is the Green Party's one good policy but they keep quiet about it. The other parties will not touch it.

Lots of other benefits too, see here

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