Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bold Street, Accrington

Dear constituent (affected),

Thank you for expressing your concerns about the dire state of the PRS in Hyndburn. Hyndburn Council is now at last a Labour Council and this has provided an opportunity to deal with rogue landlords.

I have campaigned relentlessly on this issue since 2004 and do so now in Parliament. You may be interested to read Jack Dromey, Labour's Shadow Housing spokespersons comments recently on the matter.

I have been involved closely with Shelter (who sponsor your email) and for whom I work closely with. I have also instigated Channel 4 into producing Dispatches 'Landlords from Hell'. I have also brought BBC film crews to Bold Street highlighting the problems in Hyndburn. More recently I have sponsored Channel 4's Empty Property Scandal which you may have seen with George Clarke - around 90% are PRS properties in Hyndburn are owned by private landlords.

On my webpage you will see that I campaign frequently on this very important issue and of course related issues. Today I am lobbying for a council tax premium on empty homes.

Just before Christmas you can read in Hansard my Parliamentary debate with the minister on 'Empty homes in Hyndburn'.

Before Christmas I attended a Parliamentary Residential Landlords Association meeting (APPG PRS), who quite frankly live in parallel universe to you and I. I challenged them on their desire to see less regulation and more tax breaks for landlords and their assumption that there were very few rogue landlords in the sector. As your MP I will continue to challenge these assumptions.

In Hyndburn the accreditation scheme has withered a little under the previous Tory administration with staff losses in that department. In its place potentially is the largest landlord licensing scheme being proposed in the UK. A new coherent policy needs to established covering all areas.

You may have read that in the local press that Hyndburn landlords took the previous Conservative administration to court and won, squashing the initial scheme. A revised scheme is now back out for consultation.

The current cabinet member responsible, Councillor Clare Pritchard has campaigned tirelessly on these issues too, and I have to congratulate her on the fact that she is beginning to put in place a Council that can begin to deal with the horrendous problem of unfit rented property. We are working hard on your behalf.

As the County Councillor for Woodnook I have long campaigned for regeneration there. Not just any regeneration. The Tories would have demolished or renovated for private sale new build for those that could afford. Instead Labour are to refurbish to the highest standard with two-into-one terraced properties for rent for working people. To begin to provide decent rented accommodation just 6 months into a Labour administration is a bold achievement and new direction putting right the failings of the last council.

I am sure Clare will be able to inform you of all the things she is doing to support Shelter's aims and the needs of the people of Hyndburn.