Stoke-on-Trent City Council To Consider 6.69% Average Housing Rent Increase

Councillors are to consider proposals to increase council housing rent by an average 6.69 per cent, in order to meet financial restrictions imposed by central government.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee will discuss the proposals next week (Wednesday 22 December), ahead of a decision being made at the authority’s full council meeting on 27 January.

The proposals will affect around 36 per cent of council households which do not receive full housing benefit ““ around 6,300 households. It will mean an average weekly rent increase of around £4, to £65.72. The council has around 19,000 properties in the city.

The council’s proposals are lower than the average national guideline for rent increases, which is 6.8 per cent. The increase is in line with government plans to bring council housing rent to a similar level to housing associations by 2015.

“Unfortunately we have had no choice but to consider these proposals as the government has increased the amount of subsidy we have to pay by £3.5million.

“It is essential that we comply with government guidelines to allow us to maximise housing subsidy and housing benefit arrangements for the city.

“Rent rises are set to take place across the country, but a lot of hard work has gone in to ensuring the proposals in Stoke-on-Trent are applied as fairly as possible. The proposed rise in the city is below the national average, and the average rent for affordable properties in Stoke-on-Trent is still less than most neighbouring authorities.

“We remain committed to helping ensure everyone in a council property is able to have affordable quality housing as we move into 2011. I would like to reassure all tenants that we will continue to invest in housing. Our decent homes scheme draws to a close in 2010 and has played an important role in driving up the quality of accommodation, and we have put in place a planned maintenance programme to build on that.”

New Noise Enforcement Team To Crack Down On Offenders In Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is proposing introducing new powers to tackle late night noise offences.

The decision, to be put before the city council’s cabinet on Thursday 30 September, would mean adopting new legislation, allowing a dedicated team to deal with late night noise offences on the spot, instead of the current process of repeated observations and nuisance notices.

The proposal comes after a review done by the city council’s Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which wanted powers given to staff to crack down on people who play loud music late at night or in the early hours.

The team would be able to cover both domestic and licensed premises and would be able to issue a fixed penalty notice of up to £100 on the spot to offenders, or remove any equipment that is causing the problem.

Envisaged as a 12 month pilot scheme, the cost of setting up the team is estimated to be around £100,000, but this money will come from both the city council and central government.

Expected to be set up by the end of October the team would be able to answer complaints on the spot. The environmental health team handled 4,000 noise related complaint last year and Councillor Terry Follows, cabinet member for environment, waste management and neighbourhood services, says the new powers will improve how the council responds:

“The committee’s recommendation has given us the impetus to take this legislation forward. We realise that one of the biggest problems people who live near to licensed premises have is noise, particularly late at night when it isn’t acceptable.

“In the past, our officers have been able to issue a warning and then had to monitor for a period of time before anything could be done. Now, if they arrive, and after roughly an hour determine that there is a problem, they can offer the offender the chance to go to court, pay a fixed penalty of £100. If they refuse, we are legally entitled to gain entry to the property and remove any equipment that is causing the problem.”