Friday, 10 February 2017

Council tax exempt properties and Broxtowe Borough Council continued...

Today, I have used the What Do They Know website to submit a revised freedom of information (FOI) request for information about council tax exempt properties in the Broxtowe Borough Council area and added a request for information about registered houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the borough. This time I have made it day and date specific: 1 January 2017.

In addition, I have made a separate FOI concerning council tax income lost to Broxtowe Borough Council because of registered exemptions for the financial years 2014/15, 2015/16 and to 2016/17, and much was recovered from central government?

Being open with Broxtowe Borough Council clearly does not work, so from now on I will use the What Do They Know website for all my requests for information.

This morning I have used the internet to search for student lets currently being advertised as located in Beeston by the Zoopla and Unipol websites and captured the two maps below. 

The web is awash with such information, which makes me wonder even more as why Broxtowe Borough Council has used the FOI Act to refuse me information about the total number of council tax exempt properties by street (not the location of individual properties — something I have never requested)?

Broxtowe Borough Council recently provided me with information about the number of registered voters by street. Using their logic my use of this information to create maps reveals to criminals the best streets to steal from — the more voters in a street the more there is to steal — so they should have refused me the information. Once you would have got this direct from electoral registers, but not any more (unless you are a representative of a registered political party who needs the information for canvassing etc, mailings etc).

Probably what annoys me most about all this is that my reasonable concern about maintaining some kind of 'community balance' in Beeston and across the Borough of Broxtowe becomes seen as 'anti-student' which it is not. My track record in Lenton and here in Beeston proves otherwise.

Many students want to live ordinary houses on ordinary streets and I well understand. As an oldie I want the same, but too many students, just like too many oldies, create problems which impact on local shops, services, facilities and other things as well. I could ask for information about how many council tax payers get a 25% reduction because they live alone. The problem is complex and needs addressing.

Broxtowe Borough Council's Housing Strategy 2015–2020 document (click link to read/download) does not mention students or balanced communities. The following table from the document is vague at best:

'Household structure' makes no mention of shared housing or non-couples other than 'One Person' or 'Lone Parent'. Two years ago there were 615 council tax exempt properties, which will be almost exclusively shared tenancies with three or more adults, yet the Strategy document makes no mention of this group. It is also worth noting that no data is shown for the year 2015, which is mentioned in the title of the report.

Nor does the strategy document look at housing in different parts of what is a diverse local authority area. There is no mention of housing in Beeston. The very least there should have been was a breakdown by wards/locality clusters. How this got pass the councillors is beyond me!

The list of housing 'partners' who work with Broxtowe Borough Council does not include Unipol or Nottingham University, but the Council does publish a leaflet aimed at students living in Beeston which makes no mention of what housing advice and support is available to them in Beeston.

The driving issue is housing when it comes to students in Beeston, but Broxtowe Borough Council shows little interest in taking a pro-active take in how it impacts on local shops, the wider community and local services. The Broxtowe Labour Party has, I understand, made a donation to a Nottingham Students Housing Co-op for which I can find no information on the web, apart from a Facebook page.
I hope Broxtowe Borough Council have invited them to become a housing partner.

Clearly this is the way forward for all rented housing and I wish the students involved every success. It would surely help them to know the streets where students are likely to live so that they can focus their efforts and what resources they have.

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