ECHO COMMENT: Council has every right to kick out Cheltenham's absent landlords
AN Englishman’s home is his castle. Or is it?
Cheltenham Borough Council is throwing down the gauntlet to absentee landlords and telling them to get their houses in order.
If they don’t improve the state of the properties and ensure they are available to rent, the council will get tough.
The houses could be compulsorily purchased or even sold direct to someone else.
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Your first thought may be that the council is going way beyond its role here. If someone has invested in a property at whatever date in the past and chooses not to live there - or to allow someone else to live there - why is that the council’s business?
It is for two very good reasons - the sheer number of empty properties in the town and the misery that they can bring to communities.
On the first point, there are currently more than 340 privately-owned homes that have been left empty long-term. That is a disgrace at a time when the pressure for housing is so great that thousands of new homes need to be built on open spaces across the county.
Bear in mind the fact that the council is already bringing an estimated 100 homes back into use each year. Its new scheme would provide the resources to add another 20-plus homes to the figure annually.
And then there is the human impact of empty houses. They inevitably attract vandals - and occasionally squatters - who damage not only the individual houses but the entire atmosphere around them.
The council also knows that by bringing empty homes back into use it means it qualifies for more Government cash. It has every incentive to make this crackdown work.
If this upsets absent landlords then so be it. They may be set to lose out financially in the long run but, if they cared at all about the town, they wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.
IT’S difficult to know what is the most impressive thing about Ron Savory’s models.
Is it the incredible patience required in putting them together with just matchsticks and glue, or the accuracy of the finished items?
Either way, Tower Bridge is a notable addition to Ron’s creations. He is a credit to himself and his generation.