Questions over housing policy

CIVIC chiefs have called for a deeper analysis of a scheme to crack down on anti-social behaviour from tenants and improve housing standards before it is rolled out.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s selective licensing scheme is currently running in six parts of town and proposals are in place to extend it elsewhere.

A report to yesterday’s cabinet committee showed between 2007 and March this year, levels of anti-social behaviour had been reduced in five of the six areas.

But Mayor Stuart Drummond said the report did not prove the drop was solely down to the selective licensing scheme, and he suggested neighbourhood policing had played an important part.

He called on officers to produce more evidence from residents and landlords in those areas to see if it is working before members agree to extend it.

Mayor Drummond, who said there was support for it to be rolled out, said: “The report does not say how successful it has been, who has refused to sign up, have we had any prosecutions?

“What do the residents think about it, some have been furious that it has not been working.

“That would be much more valuable to me.

“Selective licensing is one tool available to us, but at the moment, it has been a bit of a blunt tool.

“We need to get to the bottom of it before we can extend it.”

In those areas private landlords who own a property have to apply for a licence.

Since the scheme was launched in May 2009, 644 licences have been issued across the six areas, which include the Perth Street area, Furness Street area, Rodney Street area, Derwent Street area, Cornwall Street area and Kathleen Street part of town.

Dave Stubbs, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said members had been pushing for the scheme to be extended and while there had been initial problems in running the scheme, the levels of anti-social behaviour had reduced.

He said this scheme alone would not solve problems with rogue tenants and landlords.

Mayor Drummond said: “In order for us to know if it is working properly, we need to know what the people that are already involved think about it.”

Independent councillor John Lauderdale said the scheme was not working in Cornwall Street, where he lives and said there was a “depressing atmosphere” in the street.

Coun Lauderdale said: “We need to get quite vigorous to make sure the existing scheme is seen to be effective.”

John Swift, who lives in Furness Street, has previously appeared in the Mail claiming yobs living in the street were making peoples’ lives a misery.

Speaking to the Mail at the time, Mr Swift said: “They are talking about rolling the scheme out to other areas of town, but it is clearly not working here.”

The proposals are for nine new areas including the Mapleton Road area, Murray Street, Mitchell Street, Baden Street, Hereford Street, Burbank Street and Waldon Street to be included.

Cabinet members said they were minded to roll the scheme out but wanted further consultation and evaluation with residents and landlords before deciding whether to push ahead.