Press Releases week beginning 14 March 2016
John Hodges Memorial Event
Hastings Borough Council has confirmed that a memorial event will take place during the afternoon of Tuesday 22 March at the Stade Hall, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings for John Hodges. John was chair of the Foreshore Trust, Cabinet member and ward councillor for Hastings Old Town until his sudden death on 11 February.
It will be an informal event with John's family in attendance. People wishing to attend should arrive at the Stade Hall at 15:30 for 16:00.
Deli shop owner prosecuted
The owner of a delicatessen at 10 Cambridge Road, Hastings was prosecuted at Hastings Magistrates Court last Tuesday (15 March 2016) after failing to respond to a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN) served by Hastings Borough Council's planning enforcement team.
The council served the notice on 13 October 2015 under section 171C of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as the owner Mr M Banaszczyk had been operating a delicatessen without the necessary planning permission.
Cllr Kim Forward, the council's lead member for housing explained:
"Section 171C of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows the council to request any information required for planning enforcement purposes regarding operations being carried out at a property. This section of the Act is also used to invite the owner to respond constructively to the council about the suspected breach of planning control.
"Mr Banaszczyk had been operating the delicatessen without the necessary planning permission. We take contraventions of planning issues of this nature very seriously indeed and will prosecute if necessary.
"Mr Banaszczyk pleaded guilty and was fined £750, with £243 costs and ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge. This is really good news and highlights our zero tolerance to such practices in the town".
Grotbuster team target Old Town
Hastings Borough Council's Grotbusting team were out last week inspecting properties in West Street, Old Town Hastings.
With its stringent approach to tackling properties deemed 'eyesores', the council's secret weapon is Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Using this, the Grotbuster campaign has gone from strength to strength, using tough enforcement policies to improve hundreds of properties across Hastings and St Leonards since it started in 2000.
Cllr Kim Forward, the council's lead member for housing commented:
"One of our priorities is to build better neighbourhoods and the Grotbuster campaign is helping us to do this.
"The grotbusting team are already involved with 18 Old Town properties in various states of disrepair including some in West Street, a process in which the late Cllr John Hodges was involved.
"This most recent walkabout revealed further premises in need of attention in West Street and we will be writing to owners with requests to improve them shortly. Other issues were identified in the area too including rubbish, wheelie bins and blocked drains all of which we will work hard to address. We want to see grotty areas improved to create better neighbourhoods for everyone in the town."
The tireless work of the council's Grotbuster campaign has resulted in 730 properties, structures and areas of land improved across the borough since the start of the initiative in 2000 - 54 in the last year.
New Funding to tackle Rogue Landlords
Hastings Borough Council has received funding of £122,000 from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to extend and further develop the Rogue Landlord Project.
There has been significant growth in the private rented sector in Hastings in recent years and there are now areas in the town where the private rented sector makes up over 50% of the housing stock.
While the majority of landlords and property management companies in the town are responsible professionals providing a quality service to their tenants, there are a minority of landlords and landlord agents who are failing to meet the minimum standards expected of them in law.
Cllr Kim Forward the council's lead member for housing and communities explained:
"As demand for rented homes increases, unfortunately rogue landlords have flourished taking advantage of people with limited choices. Anyone renting a property from a private landlord deserves to be treated fairly and with respect.
"Whilst most landlords are responsible and honest, a minority of rogue landlords are getting away with renting out homes that are in an appalling state of repair, and deliberately exploiting their tenants.
"Too often the council is required to take enforcement action and accommodate homeless households who have been victim to landlords failing to carry out essential repairs, protect deposits, license their properties (where there is a requirement to do so) and illegally evicting tenants. In addition there are a significant number of 'amateur' landlords unaware of their responsibilities who unintentionally fail to meet the standards expected of them".
The council's Rogue Landlord Project has been able to build on strong working relationships with good local landlords who are helping to provide decent, well maintained homes, which is a vital service for local people.
"We want to educate and support good and well intentioned landlords and we are committed to stamping out the exploitative practices of rogue landlords. This new round of funding will enable new initiatives to be launched alongside continued enforcement action" added Cllr Forward.
With the aid of this new funding, the council will take a more collaborative and proactive approach to tackling rogue landlords with the establishment of a Rogue Landlord Taskforce and the development of a Rogue Landlord Register. It will also commission a new service to ensure that tenants are provided with the necessary support to take legal action against landlords who are failing to adhere to legislation.
The council's Rogue Landlord Hotline will also continue to provide a direct route for people to report concerns about their tenancies and the council's Tenant and Landlord Liaison Officer will ensure dedicated support is in place.
Tenants and other concerned residents can report any landlord who is not acting responsibly by calling the Rogue Landlords Hotline number 0800 0272651
Eurotown delegates visit Hastings
18 delegates from the Eurotowns initiative across Europe including Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain visited Hastings (29 February - 02 March 2016) to focus on social inclusion; specifically projects being delivered to tackle young people not in employment, education or training (NEET's) and family intervention projects where a young person has the responsibility of supporting the rest of the family.
Hastings is a member of the Eurotowns initiative; a partnership of towns and cities of similar size who are working together to develop shared learning and funding opportunities around thematic areas.
Cllr Dawn Poole Hastings Borough Council's lead member for regeneration said:
"We were delighted that the 18 Eurotown delegates came to Hastings and visited some of our key partners who were able to show some of the great work that is going on in the town to support vulnerable and NEET young people.
"Their tour included visits to South Coast College Hastings, Hollington Primary Academy, the Education Futures Trust and a presentation from Medway Youth Trust, who provide Youth Employability Service in East Sussex on behalf of East Sussex County Council.
"The delegates were very impressed with the levels of partnership working and the approach we have in ensuring that the young person is central to provision and the variety of complementary projects and initiatives currently being delivered. They are now keen to take some of these ideas back with them to see if they can convert some of what they learnt in to their systems."