Localism...Confused? You will be...

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“Confused? You will be!”‘ Ever heard someone say one thing one day and the opposite the next day? Well that appears to be exactly the contradiction between Westminster and Canterbury. The former says the latter must provide housing, but Canterbury appear to say withdraw housing, and from the most needy. “Never!” I hear you say. Read about the battle between Central and Local Government. [Bob Leydon comments in square brackets]. The Localism Act 2011 is part of the “Big Society” enabling local authorities to decide what is best for locals – but not for students! Sorry students… you are not locals – you just live here… oh right … that makes you local. But you are not part of the community… apart from the millions of pounds you contribute to Canterbury's local communities… hmm! I mean… you don’t exactly do anything, not like the “real locals”… well yes you do contribute a few thousand hours to voluntary services… and OK without you our transport infrastructure would be sparse… and granted I suppose we probably couldn’t support shopping centres like the Whitefriars without students… and so what you are tomorrows leaders, but apart from all these insignificant contributions… you do not recycle your rubbish properly… and you do occasionally have noisy parties… surely these negatives outweigh the positive? Call me shallow but this noise and rubbish problem must be more important to Canterbury than all the other things you contribute…? What I am tenuously trying to say is that before you students arrived in Canterbury we had a wonderful community. Well apart from the broken windows… read on: Of course there are some rowdy students just as there are and were rowdy locals. But be careful to distinguish between good natured albeit childish behaviour by students celebrating exams in June and occasional 21st birthdays; and loutish behaviour by local adults and youths! Interestingly if a local neighbour had a 21st birthday next door we would likely pop round with a present and say congratulations. But once we know the party is for a student... oho, well that is quite different... isn't it...? Students seldom stoop to the threatening and more serious criminal behaviour displayed by some displaced locals. This is not a judgement but a challenge to inject some perspective. Studentification as it is coined, should be compared with what might previously have been described as “Localsification” - only no one dared to label it as such. I own a house which, prior to studentification, contrary to the halcyon romantic myth of loving and caring communities and alas now lost to studentification. Dream on - the locals regularly lobbed stones through these rose-tinted-windows, leaving hardly a window intact. Since studentification not one pane of this house has been touched! Cars parked in driveways, ditto. The following highlights a number of direct contradictions to the consequences of Canterbury City Council's proposals to restrict students living in communities – oops sorry that would be racist, uhum… I mean, houses in “multiple occupation” HMO, in Canterbury. How? Using a planning control device called Article 4 directions” and another called “Additional Licensing” (see our other pages). The government in the Localism Bill states: “What we want to achieve: •Increase in the number of homes available to rent, including affordable homes …increasing mobility and choice … [this is directly opposed to the impact of Art 4 in Canterbury - and this reduction in choice is compounded by benefit threshold changes with more tenants up to age 35 having to move from individual to shared houses. Art.4 will reduce choice and restrict mobility!]

 

  • Protect the vulnerable and disadvantaged by tackling homelessness … [Ironically the idea of identifying HMOs was originally aimed at protecting vulnerable tenants, now it is being used to penalise penury. The inevitable reduction in affordable homes , following Art. 4 is in direct conflict to this noble aim]
  • We recognise that the private rented sector meets a wide range of housing needs, contributes to greater labour market mobility and is increasingly the tenure of choice for the young… [why then is CCC proposing to stifle these three aims? Let us get this in perspective - Local residents may have many reasons to complain about students: noise nuisance and rubbish; but homelessness is absolutely not one of them.]
  • The private rented sector is already governed by a well established legal framework. [Why then is there a need to resort to further discretionary legislation?]
  • We will support growth and investment in the private rented housing market, as the key to increasing choice. [Really? Please explain what choice is available to Benefit Recipients and other student and professional renters squeezed out by Art. 4 with rents increased following the introduction of licensing fees?]
  • The Government is committed to protecting the most vulnerable and will work in partnership with local authorities, charities and other organisations, to tackle homelessness and end rough sleeping. [Commendable aims from central government, entrusted to LAs to dispense at their discretion; what a responsibility, how well will the decision makers sleep, I wonder?!]“