It appears that the local LibDems can turn tricks for their Tory masters just as quickly as their Westminster chums.
As John Ennis reports, last year, when in opposition, the scrutiny panel chaired by LibDem Daisy Benson argued for better information for residents on planning controls on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s), so residents could report breaches to the Council, and for better enforcement of planning policies - and Labour put a batch of strong new controls in place.
But now a decision by Tory Housing Minister Grant Shapps to scrap the need to apply for planning permission to convert a home to a house in multiple occupation (HMO), is welcomed by Benson - in a press release as Lead Councillor she rejoices that in future "many of Reading's landlords will save time and money by no longer having to fill out planning application forms and paying to submit them to the Council".
Landlords of houses in Redland's student-land will love that - if not the local residents.
Jan Gavin, Labour’s candidate for Redlands where the HMO problem is greatest, is launching a petition to press the Council to bring in their own local controls now, without waiting for the Government. Jan says “The Council has the power to require landlords to ask for planning permission for conversions, and I am sure that people in Redlands and in other East Reading wards would want them to exercise that power immediately, to plug the gap that Grant Shapps has made. There’s no time to waste: I’m shocked that Daisy Benson, who is after all a Redlands Councillor, did not make that commitment as part of her press release.”