Saturday, 9 November 2019

Beeston and Broxtowe HMOs – what was said for me.

Last there was a meeting about HMOs in Beeston and Broxtowe at the Pearson Centre which I didn't attend but my HMO maps was on display, so I was present, well sort of.  Judy Sleath asked me to write a few words about my maps in case anyone asked. She telephoned this morning to tell me that she had read them out and that I should perhaps share what I gave her on this blog, so vanity appealed to, here is what I wrote:

My apologies for not being able to attend this meeting but I hope the 2 maps I have compiled can speak on my behalf but, just in case, here are a few words I have written to help explain my interest in HMOs and council tax exemptions.

It was back in 2015 that I submitted my first Freedom of Information request to Broxtowe Borough Council for information about HMOs and council tax exemptions.

In 2014 I had attended a meeting at Nether Street School about the growing problem of HMOs on Lower Road. I was invited because I lived in Lenton at the time and well aware of what happens when landlords are allowed to turn family homes into HMOs without any monitoring. The result was the wholesale taking over of neighbouhoods, such as the New Lenton Conservation Area where I lived,

My wife and I moved to Lenton in 1979 and by the time we left for Beeston in November 2014 95% of the 105 houses in the Conservation Area were HMOs and there was an Article 4 Direction in place banning any more HMOs in Lenton.

From conversations with Beeston residents and activists it was clear that, whilst there was concern about what was happening, Broxtowe Borough Council did not see a problem — hence my Freedom of Information request and the subsequent publishing of the data I received.

I repeated the request in 2017, 2018 and quite recently for 2019. I missed 2016 because I was seriously ill. On each occasion Council staff have been attentive and very supportive, and they continue to be.

All the information I have received has been placed in the public domain via my Beeston Week blog and shared with the Civic Society.

I am in no doubt that what I have witnessed over the past five years can best be described as the beginning of 'the Lentonisation of Beeston’ — it begins with neighbours noticing what is happening on their street, then it becomes anecdotal as neighbourhoods share their experiences, then the newly arrived HMOs begin to cluster and extend, before what has become a stream turns into torrent and, apart from a few alert councillors like Lynda and Pat Lally, who try to warn their colleagues of what is happening, the Council wakes up one day to the realisation that a whole community has disappeared beneath a flood of HMOs.

By compiling the maps I hope to persuade Broxtowe Borough Council to collect and share data on all HMOs, not just the large ones, so they can compile maps and monitor what is happening in Beeston and across Broxtowe, with a view to encouraging public discussion about the creation of housing policies which include HMOs and controlling them by the introduction of Article 4 Directions where and when necessary.

For the record I spent 21 years working as a regional and national housing officer, managing and developing supported housing for vulnerable tenants, until I retired in 2006.

Good landlords welcome HMOs, as do their tenants. Housing is too important to be left to self-regulation and chance.

Finally, as you look at the 2 maps, please read the text panels as they explain in some detail how I compiled them.

Robert Howard, 6 November 2019.

JUDY: If asked, you can say I worked for Advance Housing and Support, a registered housing association.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Finalised Beeston and Broxtowe HMO and student Council Tax exemption maps

Here are the two maps I have been updating for several weeks, based on data provided by Broxtowe Borough Council. It has been slow but never tedious and, yes, I'm sure there are errors but they are few. I have spent some time cross-checking the data I have. If anyone does spot any errors please tell me so I can ensure they do not appear in the early-2020 update I have planned once I have updated information from Broxtowe Borough Council.

The next map will have colour coded pins, which will indicate the number of occupants in each recorded property. The map will not include individual addresses or postcodes.

*Both the maps below can be found in their original format elsewhere on BeestonWeek. What these maps have is more detail.

Click on maps to enlarge:

Monday, 2 September 2019

Telling stories

When I was a child my teachers used to complain that I was always 'telling stories': that I had done this and that and I usually had. The writer in me was crowded in at school and only escaped in the letters I wrote to my absent mother — something we did until the week she died, a few days before her 86th birthday.

They weren't all sweet and lovely, my politics and her behaviour saw to that, but I never feel happier than when I have a fountain pen in hand and a spiral A5 pad before me and, as if by magic, the former begins to write upon the latter and what I see before me I didn’t know until I see it there, for that is how I write.

I suspect is goes back to those childhood days when telling stories usually got me out of trouble. I'm sure my love of buses comes from overheard conversations when alone, aged 4, I began to visit my mother. Put on a bus, penny in hand, and met the other end. I used to count the stops. 23 on way, 21 the other. Strange that. Still I listen, rarely seeing faces. Those talking are either backs of heads or nostrils breathing down my neck, Sitting sideways isn’t much better, unless they are opposite.

Now my stories are for me, to give my mind a better place to live in these dark times and if you want to come along please do.

Robert Howard

Beeston Week… from today A Quiet Place


Roland paid a premium for his table in the Mill Café. A three seater in the window from where he could watch the world go by.

Kay guessed right when she figured that she could charge more if she made her café a little posher. Carpet, decent tables, crockery, flowers, that kind of thing. Oh, and no music. Plus the lighting of course. What she hadn't expected was a bonus, which came in the form of Scott Pearson, who came in and asked if he could rent it evenings to run as a diner. She was already doing Sunday brunch so she wasn't too sure at first, then she thought 'Why not?' and it turned out to be a good decision.

Roland, a retired man in his sixties, came in at 9 o'clock three mornings a week, ordered a black Americano and a portion of chips, got out his notebook and began to write. He had three coffees and left with a plain Stilton cheese baguette. Sometimes a woman about his age joined him for an hour or so. It was always a de-caff skinny latte and a cinnamon bun. Roland would have one too. When the woman left she always kissed the top of his head and held out a hand, which he kissed. Whatever the weather, once outside the woman would stand in front of the window and give a little wave, which Roland returned.

Roland and Kay quickly exchanged names and he had wished her well — the first customer to do so and she liked him for that.

To continue go to Cedricburgh

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Beeston's buggibus network goes public

Click in the map to enlarge. This is an exercise of the imagination. Much of the map is deliberately blank. The idea is that you imagine where the little buses go and if you don't live in Beeston, then you can create your own network of little buses to take you where you want to go!

Friday, 26 July 2019

Ooh la la — this little French bus is just what Beeston needs!

Reading the August 2019 issue of Urban Transit I came across a passing reference to this little electric bus.

Tram enthusiasts, for the most part, see the role of the bus being reduced to a support role, never mind that double-deck buses have more seats and can, in the case of Beeston, get you to a good few places quicker than The Tram. In my book both have an equal roll to play in the Derby–Nottingham conurbation, including little electric buses like the one below, which is French. I love it!

It does all I expect of a 'Beeston Buggy Bus'.

Click here to visit a website showing one of these buses at work in Singapore. At the end there is a video. Enjoy the ride!

I have blogged in the past about my belief that Beeston needs a community transport network, which I have called the Beeston Buggy Bus network.

I have actually done two posts:

I really believe that little electric* buses like this French 'Bien Petit' Bus' are the future when it comes to increasing mobility around towns and rural communities every day, not just Monday–Saturday daytime. This little bus is electric with a range of 125km (77 miles) and can carry up to 22 passengers.

Enjoy the ride!

* It could as easily be hydrogen powered I'm sure.