From Paul Maynard MP <[email protected]>
Subject Paul Maynard MP's Letter from Westminster
Date May 23, 2023 10:28 AM
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read Paul Maynard MP's latest update of his work

I recently caught up with the team at Fleetwood Nautical Campus to hear more about the work they are doing providing jobs, skills, and opportunities for people locally.
Dear john,

I thought I would send round one in my occasional series of ‘things you might have missed’ involving stuff the Government is doing that I think is very worthwhile. Today I will focus on our plans to do even more to tackle anti-social behaviour which I know troubles so very many of you.

The experiences you share with me on a regular basis have helped shape my asks of government and have been reflected in these announcements. It is really pleasing that Blackpool and Lancashire are going to be one of the hotspots where these measures are to be piloted it.
Highlights include
* Tougher and more urgent response from the police, with higher funding to deliver that.
* Better reporting tools so you can follow the progress of your complaint and get a response and it doesn’t just vanish into the ether – something I hear happens all too often.
* Immediate Justice – within 48 hours offenders will be back out repairing the mess and damage they have caused. That would have been great for when the mural at Cleveleys Bus Station was ruined days after its unveiling.
* An easier way for communities to pick Community Payback projects – it is possible to do, but hard to find out how. I am sure we can all come up with a list of projects that could benefit us all.
* New laws to target aggressive begging – a reason many I know avoid Blackpool town centre. It isn’t necessarily a function of rough sleeping or homelessness, though this does need tackling, but is often occurring as an organised activity answering to something one higher up.
* Stronger powers for landlords to tackle and evict disruptive tenants – time, time and time again I hear from residents struggling to deal with neighbours who are not just inconsiderate but downright disruptive and wrecking lives, and from landlords who struggle to evict for those reasons. Contracts will soon be able to specify anti-social behaviour as grounds for eviction, and the waiting time for landlords will be cut from two months to two weeks to shorten the misery.
* The Youth Investment Fund will be investing over £300 million in up to 300 new and refurbished facilities in levelling up priority areas such as Blackpool and Cleveleys to support local providers such as the Boathouse, Magic Club and Boys & Girls Club to provide safe spaces where young people can take part in a range of activities with the support of trained adults. When the facilities open their doors, we will be prioritising resource funding to expand the offer to young people in those areas.
* Priority support for areas of deprivation, including anti-social behaviour hotspots, is available through the £16.5 million Uniformed Youth Fund. This supports organisations such as the Scouts and Police Cadets to reach around 20,000 more teenagers across England.
* Controlling the sale of nitrous oxide – not just a litter hazard but also a health hazard to our young people. At the same time, we need to ensure we don’t stop the commercial use which is integral to businesses like Notariannis to help create their ‘softie’ ice cream!
* To breathe new life into shuttered shops in Blackpool, Bispham and Cleveleys we will introduce High Street Rental Auctions this autumn. These auctions will allow local authorities to sell off the rental rights for empty properties to willing tenants, such as businesses and community groups, for a short period of time. To supercharge use, we will provide up £2 million of financial support to make sure that areas which need this the most are not priced out by prohibitive refurbishment costs to bring the properties up to standard.
* So that Blackpool and Wyre can move quickly when a private property is left vacant – and a likely magnet for anti-social behaviour – we will make changes to the Empty Dwelling Management Order regime, cutting the minimum time period for action from 2 years to 6 months specifically for properties which have become a magnet for anti-social behaviour or occupied by squatters. In so many areas with a mix of HMOs and former hotels, I know how toxic this combination has been for so very many residents.
* Blackpool Council has dragged its heels for far too long over using what are called section 215 orders. Local authorities do have an existing power to issue Repair Notices, and a broader power to issue Section 215 notices, applicable to any land or building if ‘its condition adversely affects the amenity of the area’. The local authority can specify the works required, and if the owner does not carry them out, the authority can do so themselves and bill the owner. The authority can place a charge on the property to secure the debt incurred, and can then enforce a sale at auction if the debt is not paid. However, these powers clearly are not frequently used, or even widely known about – despite 2005 government guidance encouraging their proactive use. We will now look to change guidance for Section 215 notices, which local authorities can use to make owners and occupiers fix and tidy their land and buildings, so that it includes notices on empty buildings that ruining the local amenity.
We are also removing the upper limit on fines for landlords and building owners who do not comply with a Section 215 order, encouraging them to fix disrepair that can attract anti-social behaviour.
* Not doing this has consequences too – we need only see the all-too-regular fires at hotels along the Promenade.
* Additionally, we intend to target the awful practice of ‘cuckooing’ or home invasion and will engage with stakeholders on making it a new criminal offence. By ‘cuckooing’ we mean criminals taking over a premises (often the home of a vulnerable person, such as an individual with limited physical or mental capacity, or substance addiction) to use for illegal activities. This has a serious impact on the victim being exploited but can also affect local communities that are likely to suffer a range of anti-social behaviour as a result. You would not believe how common this is in this area, and I regard it as morally repugnant.

It’s a long list I know, but I think it equips police, councils and communities with extra powers to tackle forms of anti-social behaviour that have been hard to clamp down on recent years.
As ever, of course, we will only know these work when they have been put into practice.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Maynard MP
01253 473071

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