Kill the Housing Bill



Don’t walk by (Street link)


HARP’s women-only facility is given the go-ahead

Planning consent has been granted for a women’s homeless hostel at the rear of HARP’s Bradbury Centre. The unit, when built, will accommodate up to nineteen women. Access will be via the York Road establishment, with the Hastings Road entrance being used only for emergencies.

It is intended that the women’s hostel will be staffed exclusively by females.

Something like a quarter of rough sleepers are female, and this facility is definitely needed.

HARP can only house those with recourse to public funds. They also charge a nominal amount for food, although they will feed those in need who have no money. Their facilities are fully utilised, and with a growing need they are looking to expand their offering to the homeless. By the end up the year they will be able to help 140 clinets.

Good bye to Shanty Town

Secure gates prevent access to derelict garages off Ceylon Road

Secure gates prevent access to derelict garages off Ceylon Road

I have received an email as follows:

Apologies for the delay in notifying you but I spoke with the Solicitors acting on behalf of the overseas owners a couple of weeks ago and they advised that steel gates were due to be erected.

These have now been installed (thanks PCSO Jones for the photo’s) and engagement and support were offered to the remaining two individuals who took up assistance.

I hope that this is now a resolution to the problems being experienced in this location.

This ‘Shanty Town’ was the place I described in Our correspondent in Shanty Town. These derelict garages were accessed by alleyways off Ceylon Road and London Road in Westcliff-on-Sea.

The scale of the empty homes issue in Essex

Table 615 All vacant dwellings1 by local authority district, England, from 2004

Here are the number of vacant dwellings (long-term empty) for each local authority in Essex :-

Local Authority Name 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Southend-on-Sea 2,510 2,711 2,772 2,515 2,524 2,566 2,483 2,747 2676 2376 2277
Tendring 2,328 2,579 2,842 2,838 2,972 2,720 2,461 2,419 2560 2338 2202
Colchester 1,824 1,911 1,936 1,958 2,261 2,034 1,888 2,024 1910 1869 1737
Braintree 1,714 1,724 1,842 1,850 1,901 1,947 1,821 1,711 1652 1549 1601
Thurrock 1,411 1,856 1,993 1,903 1,799 1,875 1,732 1,710 1805 1616 1497
Basildon 1,450 1,617 1,695 1,526 1,594 1,784 1,521 1,544 1795 1738 1443
Epping Forest 1,775 1,837 1,704 1,445 1,500 1,501 1,575 1,626 1562 1476 1391
Chelmsford 1,274 1,489 1,551 1,703 1,706 1,674 1,623 1,455 1555 1372 1302
Castle Point 664 712 811 862 877 916 906 1,031 1034 950 799
Uttlesford 898 1,013 869 885 910 964 888 844 880 826 741
Maldon 561 711 743 762 780 692 687 675 633 636 654
Rochford 804 812 976 967 999 987 964 902 863 881 629
Brentwood 622 662 764 688 712 753 787 739 760 603 589
Harlow 627 632 598 561 595 544 579 687 684 563 478

Southend-on-Sea has led the list in Essex for seven of the last eleven years, being second in the other four.

The local authorities are neither equal in size, nor exactly like each other, but it does show that there are considerable numbers of potential homes lying empty, and this is quite shameful really.

If you take into account the size of each authority, and use this to show the number of inhabitants per each empty home then Southend-on-Sea is a mere second in this rather ignominious list.

Local Authority Name Population Population per empty dwelling
Tendring 139,916 64
Southend-on-Sea 177,931 78
Epping Forest 128,777 93
Braintree 149,985 94
Maldon 62,767 96
Colchester 180,420 104
Thurrock 163,270 109
Castle Point 89,200 112
Uttlesford 84,042 113
Basildon 180,521 125
Brentwood 75,645 128
Chelmsford 171,633 132
Rochford 84,776 135
Harlow 84,564 177

The total number of long-term empty properties in Essex last year was 17,340. Just when are the Government going to do something about this?

Still more than two thousand long-term empty homes in Southend-on-Sea

The empty homes numbers for Southend-on-Sea provide enlightening reading.

The current tally is 2277 (, which whilst the lowest figure for eleven years is still high enough, for instance, to solve the “where do we house the refugees” question.

This number is for what is described as ‘long-term’ empty homes – this does not include those properties temporarily vacant (between lettings, for instance), and whilst some will be unsuitable for immediate re-use, many will be able to help solve part of the local housing crisis.

Local authorities do have powers to put these homes back into circulation, and whilst it is not always straightforward, it is made simpler if the will is there. Councils can compulsory purchase, take over land, enforce sale, require that a property be made safe, as well as issue empty dwelling management orders.

I have highlighted the issue of empty properties in Southend-on-Sea on a number of occasions, and in a time of unaffordable housing this is a situation that causes me much regret. This regret is enhanced when one considers the plight of the homeless and those fleeing persecution and death.

Dear anonymous lady, where is your evidence?

This is a response to the lady who left a message on my council telephone voicemail. I would have called her back except that she left no name or number.

She called regarding my article in the press regarding the homeless; she said that they were not very nice people, and that Milton ward had suffered a crime wave since they had set up tents on the Cliffs.

I really do not know how many of the rough sleepers she had actually met, but describing them all as not very nice leads down a particularly nasty road. Judge individuals not whole groups of people.

It is also some stretch to link to unrelated incidents without any evidence. A crime wave in Milton (a ward that sees enough crime without the presence of rough sleepers) can be ascribed to any number of reasons unless you, like me, prefer the rigour of evidence-based analysis.

I could also point out that the Cliffs have had rough-sleepers encamped within its environs for more than a year – it is just that the latest lot are more visible.

Lady, if you have evidence that links crime to anyone then it is your civic duty to report this to the police. Otherwise I suggest you keep your irrational prejudices to yourself.

Of course I want the problem solved, but let’s tackle this with compassion and empathy for those without a roof of their own.