Labour councillors on Southend Borough Council have blasted local Conservatives’ failure to engage on proposals for stricter regulation of landlords, at the Council's Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee. A paper was presented to the Committee, with recommendations including stricter enforcement and selective licensing. The Conservatives, predictably, voted not to explore selective licensing of HMOs, and to take the less strict of the enforcement routes.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, Leader of the Labour Group, said, "One never expects the Conservatives to be the loudest champions of renters over the rogue landlords, but I think we were all surprised that not a single Tory had any comment to make in pre-cabinet scrutiny. Labour and other opposition councillors all spoke in favour of selective licensing options. No Tory councillor, though, said a word in regards to any of the proposals, simply raising their hands at the appointed moment in favour of the weakest of the offered options."
"Given that we are barely two months on from an election in which the housing situation of the town was a key subject on the doorsteps, it would appear that the Conservatives haven't learned a thing. They will go on supporting landlords over renters, go on keeping housing enforcement weak and ineffective, and go on refusing to deliver the housing market reform that Southend residents need."
Any possible conflict of interest of Tory councillors who may themselves be landlords has to be kept a close eye on: their administration has already earned a mention in Private Eye's 'Rotten Boroughs' column.