Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (NT 33(d))

  Thank you for giving me an opportunity to give evidence to the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Select Committee New Towns Inquiry on 3 July 2002. At my evidence session I offered to provide the Select Committee with further information on the licensing of privte landlords and the consideration of sub-soil right in the EP review. I also agreed to write to you following the announcement of Stage 2 of the EP review, and on improvements to Radburn Select Committee New Town Inquiry on 3 July 2002. At my evidence session I offered to provide the Select-Committee with further information on the licensing of private landlords and the consideration of sub-soil rights in the EP review. I aso agreed to write to you following the announcement of Stage 2 of the EP review, and on improvements to Radburn design to reduce problems of crime. I hope to be able to do this within the next few weeks.

LICENSING OF PRIVATE LANDLORDS

  It might be useful to clarify some of the remarks made on the scope and extent of the Government's proposals for selective licensing of private landlords. Our proporsals are primarily focused on enabling local authorities to stop landlords and anti-social tenants from undermining action to stablise neightbourhoods in decline Selective licensing will also be a very useful tool to local authorities seeking to prevent areas from falling into decline. The proposed measures are aimed at ensuring landlords are "fit and proper" persons, that they comply with basic management standards for rented accommodation, they vet prospective tenants and taken action against those who are anti social. Where a landlord is unwilling or unable to obtain a licence the local authority will have powers to improse alterntive acceptable management. A landlord who operates without a licence will be subject to a criminal penalty of up to £20,000.

  The problem that the proposals aim to tackle are particularly prevalent in areas of low housing demand. However, we do acknowledge that there may be certain exceptional circumstances where the powers might be used to tackle poor management practices and anti social behaviour in areas other than with low demand. In these circumstance any local authority, including a New Town authority will be able to seek the Secretary of State's consent to implement a scheme, subject to the need to demonstate that there is a significant problem caused by those operating in the private rented sector in such areas and that licensing of landlords would address the problem.

  Selective licensing, together with measures to introduce compulsory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation and a new housing fitness regime, will be included in a future Housing Bill, which will be presented to Parliament as soon as a legislative slot is available.

SUB-SOIL RIGHTS ETC

  I can confirm that sub-soil rights, ransom strips and convenants are being considered in Stage Two of the review.

RADBURN DESIGN

  My officials are currently looking into possible examples of schemes in New Towns where Radburn layouts have been adapted to reduce the problems of crime. I will write to you as soon as I have any further information. However, one example outside the New Town is the Top Valley estate, in Nottingham—it has a Radburn layout-car access, garages are at the edges of housing and front doors are reached by a network of alleyways. Natural surveillance is limited and lighting is poor. Dustbin shelters are being used as climbing platforms and the wheelie bins are used to cart stolen good away. In short, the current features of the estate facilitate crime. Actions on the estate to combat crime include:

    —  Repeat victims and vulnerable residents to receive burglar alarms;

    —  Use of covert tracking devices and a portable tracking unit—to help obtain evidence against burglars and to identify handlers and disposers of stolen property;

    —  Shared pathways and alleyways to be gated;

    —  increased lighting in the rear of houses and flats; and

    —  Use of highly visable uniformed patrols in hot spot dwelling areas—to reassure the public and prevent crime.

Tony McNulty Esq MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister


 
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