LETTER: Is selective licensing the kind of democracy we want?
The Government has neglected Wisbech and when Operation Pheasant lead by the police highlighted the high level of exploitation of migrant workers here, it was recognised by our district council that we have a very serious issue and action needed to be taken to protect all our Wisbech residents.
We received no extra funding for our services when we had a huge increase in our population in fact millions has been taken away.
As the district council’s staff has been decimated like many other public services because of Governmemt cutbacks, the obvious move was to ensure that those profiting from renting properties should pay for the inspections needed rather than the tax payer; after all they’re commercial enterprises, not done for altruism.
This scheme has been set up in parts of Peterborough by the Conservative council as well as other areas all around the country.
Wisbech residents who live next door to rented badly managed properties are suffering and this Licence, paid for by landlords, would enable sufficient council staff and resources to properly regulate this seriously growing issue.
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The problem does not exist to the same extent elsewhere in Fenland so it was deemed fair that those profiting from it should be charged rather than all Fenland taxpayers.
After a year’s consultation with residents, Councillors and examination of good practices around the country, a meeting of only Conservative Councillors, was held last week to vote on before going to Fenland’s Conservative Cabinet for approval.
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It was not supported, particularly by Wisbech Councillors some who own properties and like some landlords did not wish to pay the five year licence fee.
We understand they used arguments such as ‘there’s already legislation in place’, clearly not otherwise this would not have been introduced by Government and many other councils.
‘It will increase rents’. So for £1.92 a week, per property, the price of a cup of coffee, we predict deprived areas will increase, owner occupiers will sell up and move out, opportune landlords will buy up those properties, and the deprived areas will widen and Wisbech residents will suffer even more.
Is this really the kind of democracy we want? So much for Wisbech 20/20 Vision, give them more of the same, greed culture again and is this really what you expect from your Wisbech Councillors?
VIRGINIA AND MICHAEL BUCKNOR
Independent Fenland District and Wisbech Town Councillors, Waterlees Village Ward