Minister attacked on empty homes criticism of Bradford

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Val Slater Councillor Val Slater

Labour-run Bradford Council has railed against a Government edict to do more to battle the blight of abandoned houses.

Communities Minister Stephen Williams has written to Bradford Council saying it should work harder to tackle the high number of empty homes in the district.

The Liberal Democrat MP says this would boost the housing supply, while also “reducing the negative impact that neglected properties can have on communities”.

But local housing chief Councillor Val Slater has responded angrily, saying her department’s work in tackling the issue has already been recognised as some of the best in the country.

Mr Williams has written to the 50 local authorities with the highest number of long-term empty properties, and which are already using council tax penalties to try to solve the problem.

Councils can charge the owners of long-term empty properties a premium council tax rate of 150 per cent, which Bradford is already doing.

Mr Williams says while this brought in an extra £744,179 to the Council in 2013/14, it would have collected more by solving the problem rather than penalising those responsible.

This is because when empty homes are brought back into use, local authorities are given a Government reward called the New Homes Bonus. Mr Williams says Bradford Council could have received a bonus of up to £1.6 million this year if, instead of charging the council tax premium, it had brought these homes back into use.

He said: “I would strongly encourage your authority to work to bring long-term empty homes in your area back into use.

“This could raise extra funds through the New Homes Bonus to help keep council tax down and support frontline services as well as bringing wider benefits to your communities.”

But Coun Slater, the Council’s executive member for housing, said she had been “surprised and aggrieved” to read the letter.

She said the authority was recently recognised as one of the best in the country for cutting the number of empty properties, which Mr Williams seemed to be unaware of.

Coun Slater said: “It remains one of my top priorities. Despite the fact we are in difficult budgetary times, I fought to keep money available to tackle that key priority.”

The number of long-term empty homes fell from 4,766 in 2012 to 3,981 in 2013, the Empty Homes Agency revealed earlier this month. This placed Bradford fourth, after Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, in the size of its reduction.

Comments (8)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:07am Wed 4 Jun 14

collos25 says...

I would agree anything VS has her hands on is a disaster.
I would agree anything VS has her hands on is a disaster. collos25
  • Score: 8

8:35am Wed 4 Jun 14

sorrow&anger says...

Cllr. Slater, along with many of her colleagues, should learn to live in the real world and accept criticism when it is justified. Whilst it is true that Bradford has brought many abandoned homes back into use the City is still comfortably in the top twenty in the country for the number of empty houses.

That is the reality Cllr Slater has to address. She should spend her time on that, not manufacturing spin to justify what, objectively, is still a pretty shoddy performance
Cllr. Slater, along with many of her colleagues, should learn to live in the real world and accept criticism when it is justified. Whilst it is true that Bradford has brought many abandoned homes back into use the City is still comfortably in the top twenty in the country for the number of empty houses. That is the reality Cllr Slater has to address. She should spend her time on that, not manufacturing spin to justify what, objectively, is still a pretty shoddy performance sorrow&anger
  • Score: 36

10:11am Wed 4 Jun 14

FinlandStation says...

This is so typical of City Hall's approach to Bradford's problems. Instead of working to bring empty properties back into use they fine the owners, just as, instead of dealing with some of the worst congestion in the country, they fine motorists instead.

With the Council, it's just one shabby money making wheeze after another. The basic problems that are dragging this city down never get addressed.
This is so typical of City Hall's approach to Bradford's problems. Instead of working to bring empty properties back into use they fine the owners, just as, instead of dealing with some of the worst congestion in the country, they fine motorists instead. With the Council, it's just one shabby money making wheeze after another. The basic problems that are dragging this city down never get addressed. FinlandStation
  • Score: 22

11:01am Wed 4 Jun 14

bignozer says...

Val Slater head buried in the sand yet again, I just can't believe people vote for such an inept person.
Val Slater head buried in the sand yet again, I just can't believe people vote for such an inept person. bignozer
  • Score: 17

11:18am Wed 4 Jun 14

angry bradfordian says...

It's a shame the article doesn't actually give much detail as to what the letter said.

On the face of it, the minister has said the council could have raised £1.6m instead of £750k. If this is the case, I'm struggling to see what it is that Cllr Slater is getting so upset about that meant she needed to bring it to the T&A's attention.
It's a shame the article doesn't actually give much detail as to what the letter said. On the face of it, the minister has said the council could have raised £1.6m instead of £750k. If this is the case, I'm struggling to see what it is that Cllr Slater is getting so upset about that meant she needed to bring it to the T&A's attention. angry bradfordian
  • Score: 6

12:57pm Wed 4 Jun 14

pjl20 says...

The City of Leeds Council acquires empty property that is run down and not fit for habitation in it's district. Private landlords of such property receive compensation at the market price that applies, less the cost of refurbishment.

Why are such go-ahead policies not adopted by Bradford MDC?
The City of Leeds Council acquires empty property that is run down and not fit for habitation in it's district. Private landlords of such property receive compensation at the market price that applies, less the cost of refurbishment. Why are such go-ahead policies not adopted by Bradford MDC? pjl20
  • Score: 10

1:17pm Wed 4 Jun 14

Joedavid says...

"The number of long-term empty homes fell from 4,766 in 2012 to 3,981 in 2013,"
Surely still a lot.
Come on Val do better.
"The number of long-term empty homes fell from 4,766 in 2012 to 3,981 in 2013," Surely still a lot. Come on Val do better. Joedavid
  • Score: 13

1:18pm Wed 4 Jun 14

alive and awake says...

So Bradford Council get it wrong again, and adopt their usual bullying tactics.
How on earth has such a useless body of people been allowed to get their hands on power and more to the point got their hands on our money? I can't think of one redeeming feature of this shower.
So Bradford Council get it wrong again, and adopt their usual bullying tactics. How on earth has such a useless body of people been allowed to get their hands on power and more to the point got their hands on our money? I can't think of one redeeming feature of this shower. alive and awake
  • Score: 15

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree