Community Infrastructure Levy

I am a recently retired planning officer with some experience of the operation of this scheme in my previous local authority.  In theory the scheme has merits, but in practise there are a number of drawbacks.

For a start the calculation should be fair and easy to understand.  The scheme I am familiar with was introduced in haste and was not a fair system as it did not cover every category of land use or development.  Consequently some quite small developments could command a disproportionately large fee, which could not be satisfactorily explained to the developer.  Some payments were so large that the developer was deterred from making the application and investing in the Borough unless they were reduced.  In addition the Borough Solicitor was constantly changing the format of the legal Deed because of doubts over its enforcability.

Small developers of, say 1 house, found the system particularly difficult to understand.  They were required to do an online calculation which produced a legal document, which had to be signed, witnessed and returned with the planning application.  Many small developers failed to understand that they had signed a legal document and didn't complete the Deed correctly.  It was also necessary to carry out a Land Registry check to make sure that the landownwer's details were correct.  This all created additional work for planning officers and delayed  the decision making process.

The levy was payable once building work had comenced.  For a small developer this was a heavy additional outlay at the start of the development when finances were often already tight.  Non-payment meant instigating the debt recovery process – again all  additional work for staff.  I would question whether the amount of income from small development against the cost of administration made it a worthwhile operation.

Why is this idea important?

I am a recently retired planning officer with some experience of the operation of this scheme in my previous local authority.  In theory the scheme has merits, but in practise there are a number of drawbacks.

For a start the calculation should be fair and easy to understand.  The scheme I am familiar with was introduced in haste and was not a fair system as it did not cover every category of land use or development.  Consequently some quite small developments could command a disproportionately large fee, which could not be satisfactorily explained to the developer.  Some payments were so large that the developer was deterred from making the application and investing in the Borough unless they were reduced.  In addition the Borough Solicitor was constantly changing the format of the legal Deed because of doubts over its enforcability.

Small developers of, say 1 house, found the system particularly difficult to understand.  They were required to do an online calculation which produced a legal document, which had to be signed, witnessed and returned with the planning application.  Many small developers failed to understand that they had signed a legal document and didn't complete the Deed correctly.  It was also necessary to carry out a Land Registry check to make sure that the landownwer's details were correct.  This all created additional work for planning officers and delayed  the decision making process.

The levy was payable once building work had comenced.  For a small developer this was a heavy additional outlay at the start of the development when finances were often already tight.  Non-payment meant instigating the debt recovery process – again all  additional work for staff.  I would question whether the amount of income from small development against the cost of administration made it a worthwhile operation.

Amendment to the leasehold reform act 1993

Amendment to the leasehold reform act 1993

Dear Sirs,

The leasehold reform act 1993 was intended to enfranchise leaseholders by extending to them, amongst other things, the right to purchase a share of the freehold of the premises of which they were leaseholders, provided they met certain criteria.

It was a good idea, but is working against the interests of many leaseholders simply because they do not have an absolute right to join in the enfranchisement process.

As things are, a simple majority of leaseholders are necessary to commence proceedings leading towards enfranchisement, but that majority can, if they wish, block other entitled leaseholders from taking advantage of a law they were all intended to benefit from.

Please consider amending the act, as soon as possible, so that leaseholders may not be excluded should they wish to participate, and in the event that enfranchisement has already taken place that they are entitled as a right to demand participation in the enfranchisement that has taken place.

Suitable arrangements will have to be worked out to financially compensate or allow for those leaseholders who may have already extended their lease by an additional term of 90 years or more, and there may have to be certain exclusions to cater for persons not entitled to become a director of a company because excluded.

There are many people in position to benefit from the proposed change outlined above and who would welcome a favourable change.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours faithfully

C R Cowell

Why is this idea important?

Amendment to the leasehold reform act 1993

Dear Sirs,

The leasehold reform act 1993 was intended to enfranchise leaseholders by extending to them, amongst other things, the right to purchase a share of the freehold of the premises of which they were leaseholders, provided they met certain criteria.

It was a good idea, but is working against the interests of many leaseholders simply because they do not have an absolute right to join in the enfranchisement process.

As things are, a simple majority of leaseholders are necessary to commence proceedings leading towards enfranchisement, but that majority can, if they wish, block other entitled leaseholders from taking advantage of a law they were all intended to benefit from.

Please consider amending the act, as soon as possible, so that leaseholders may not be excluded should they wish to participate, and in the event that enfranchisement has already taken place that they are entitled as a right to demand participation in the enfranchisement that has taken place.

Suitable arrangements will have to be worked out to financially compensate or allow for those leaseholders who may have already extended their lease by an additional term of 90 years or more, and there may have to be certain exclusions to cater for persons not entitled to become a director of a company because excluded.

There are many people in position to benefit from the proposed change outlined above and who would welcome a favourable change.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours faithfully

C R Cowell

Localism and Planning

There is much of interest in the coalition's statements on Localism and putting decision-making powers back in the hands of communities and local authorities. However, to facilitate the process, I would suggest repealing those parts of the current system of town and country planning that work against those fine principles, beginning with the following.

  • Remove the presumption in favour of development
  • Allow statutory development plans to include negatively as well as positively worded policies
  • Increase the weight attached to community opinion in the determination of planning applications and appeals
  • Overall, shift the balance of power from landowners and developers to communities and local planning authorities

This could begin to change the culture of planning in this country so that planning permission is not a right of the individual, but an endorsement by the people it will affect.

Why is this idea important?

There is much of interest in the coalition's statements on Localism and putting decision-making powers back in the hands of communities and local authorities. However, to facilitate the process, I would suggest repealing those parts of the current system of town and country planning that work against those fine principles, beginning with the following.

  • Remove the presumption in favour of development
  • Allow statutory development plans to include negatively as well as positively worded policies
  • Increase the weight attached to community opinion in the determination of planning applications and appeals
  • Overall, shift the balance of power from landowners and developers to communities and local planning authorities

This could begin to change the culture of planning in this country so that planning permission is not a right of the individual, but an endorsement by the people it will affect.

Local Planning Consents

May I suggest that you take a look at local authority planning consents most urgently.

It has come to my notice that in Rochdale, Lancashire, there are more than 6,000 registered Mosques with the local authority.

Apparently this is due to the misuse of a planning law stating that a room which can hold more than 6 people can be declared as a place of worship or a place of learning thus avoiding the payment of Council Tax.

To confirm my research I rang the planning office to verify if this was true as I had heard it from a council employee.  The person who answered the phone could not be specific but thought it could be considerably more than 6000.  Therefore it implies that unscrupulous individuals are declaring their homes as Mosques.

If this abuse of local planning is repeated across the country then local authorities are losing tens of millions of pounds in revenue.

I urge you to look into this matter as soon as possible.

Why is this idea important?

May I suggest that you take a look at local authority planning consents most urgently.

It has come to my notice that in Rochdale, Lancashire, there are more than 6,000 registered Mosques with the local authority.

Apparently this is due to the misuse of a planning law stating that a room which can hold more than 6 people can be declared as a place of worship or a place of learning thus avoiding the payment of Council Tax.

To confirm my research I rang the planning office to verify if this was true as I had heard it from a council employee.  The person who answered the phone could not be specific but thought it could be considerably more than 6000.  Therefore it implies that unscrupulous individuals are declaring their homes as Mosques.

If this abuse of local planning is repeated across the country then local authorities are losing tens of millions of pounds in revenue.

I urge you to look into this matter as soon as possible.

Protect open spaces

Repeal the provisions of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 which removed the requirement for local authorities, when using open space for another purpose, to provide land in exchange. (Now they only have to advertise their intention and consider public objections, which they can easily disregard.) Reinstate the requirement to provide land in exchange which is at least as large and as advantageous to the public or to submit the proposals to parliament for approval.

Why is this idea important?

Repeal the provisions of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 which removed the requirement for local authorities, when using open space for another purpose, to provide land in exchange. (Now they only have to advertise their intention and consider public objections, which they can easily disregard.) Reinstate the requirement to provide land in exchange which is at least as large and as advantageous to the public or to submit the proposals to parliament for approval.

Unfettered outdoor advertisement

PROPOSAL

Repeal the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisement) Regulations, the roadside advertisement provisions of the Highways Act and teh Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act.

REASON

This is the most universal form of civil disobedience and criminal negligence carried out across Britain today.  It is ignored by the tens of thousands of perpetrators and beneficiaries,

It is also actively and negligently disregarded and tacitly accepted by all the Government Agencies from the Planning Officers, Environmental Health Officers, Highways Inspectors and others charged with control and enforcement. 

 

Why is this idea important?

PROPOSAL

Repeal the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisement) Regulations, the roadside advertisement provisions of the Highways Act and teh Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act.

REASON

This is the most universal form of civil disobedience and criminal negligence carried out across Britain today.  It is ignored by the tens of thousands of perpetrators and beneficiaries,

It is also actively and negligently disregarded and tacitly accepted by all the Government Agencies from the Planning Officers, Environmental Health Officers, Highways Inspectors and others charged with control and enforcement. 

 

Keep and strengthen the Hunting Act (2004)

The Hunting Act had the support of the majority of the country and the majority of MPs in Parliament. Despite a change in government, the opinion polls still show that the Act should be kept, and even strengthened, to prevent huntsmen exploiting legal loopholes in order to continue with their cruel sport.

The 'town-versus-country' argument is promoted by pro-hunting organisations to be deliberately divisive.

This issue has been dealt with. The public spoke. The arguments were considered and a vote was taken. To engineer a repeal of the Act would be undemocratic and would only serve to please a very few people who take pleasure in seeing life extinguished.

Why is this idea important?

The Hunting Act had the support of the majority of the country and the majority of MPs in Parliament. Despite a change in government, the opinion polls still show that the Act should be kept, and even strengthened, to prevent huntsmen exploiting legal loopholes in order to continue with their cruel sport.

The 'town-versus-country' argument is promoted by pro-hunting organisations to be deliberately divisive.

This issue has been dealt with. The public spoke. The arguments were considered and a vote was taken. To engineer a repeal of the Act would be undemocratic and would only serve to please a very few people who take pleasure in seeing life extinguished.

Require Gov’t funded bodies to lodge cash in the Bank of England

It astonishes me that while the national government borrows money, local councils all over the country have been lending money to Icelandic and other banks, who naturally earn a 'spread' on relending it to others. Surely all tax-payer/government funded bodies (including the BBC, for example) should be required to invest their surplus funds with the Bank of England? This would reduce risk to the tax-payer and reduce cost to the goverment – and so to the tax-payer. The wasteful duplication of treasury department activities throughout the UK could be be eliminated at a stroke.

Why is this idea important?

It astonishes me that while the national government borrows money, local councils all over the country have been lending money to Icelandic and other banks, who naturally earn a 'spread' on relending it to others. Surely all tax-payer/government funded bodies (including the BBC, for example) should be required to invest their surplus funds with the Bank of England? This would reduce risk to the tax-payer and reduce cost to the goverment – and so to the tax-payer. The wasteful duplication of treasury department activities throughout the UK could be be eliminated at a stroke.

‘professional tenants’

The Law requires that a rental deposit submitted by a tenant to a landlord should be lodged with one of three deposit schemes.  These schemes are not well publicised or known about.  If a landlord embarking on letting some property for the first time and is unaware of this deposit scheme, he/she can fall foul of either an unscupulous or 'professional' tenant who is fully aware of this requirement.  This can cost a landlord three times the original deposit amount and what needs changing is the law awards the tenant with three times the original deposit.   A penalty is not the issue, it is the fact that the tenant gains in these circumstances and can therefore withhold his knowledge to an unexperienced landlord knowing, at the end of his/her tenancy can claim the money.

In my case I was not even asked for the actual money only a certificate to show how the money haad been lodged – it cost me dearly in money, time, stress.  The scheme needs to be a little more 'landlord friendly' and not so biassed towards the tenant..

Why is this idea important?

The Law requires that a rental deposit submitted by a tenant to a landlord should be lodged with one of three deposit schemes.  These schemes are not well publicised or known about.  If a landlord embarking on letting some property for the first time and is unaware of this deposit scheme, he/she can fall foul of either an unscupulous or 'professional' tenant who is fully aware of this requirement.  This can cost a landlord three times the original deposit amount and what needs changing is the law awards the tenant with three times the original deposit.   A penalty is not the issue, it is the fact that the tenant gains in these circumstances and can therefore withhold his knowledge to an unexperienced landlord knowing, at the end of his/her tenancy can claim the money.

In my case I was not even asked for the actual money only a certificate to show how the money haad been lodged – it cost me dearly in money, time, stress.  The scheme needs to be a little more 'landlord friendly' and not so biassed towards the tenant..

Restore equal rights for rural residents

Repeal the statutes which fail to safeguard rural areas from those who treat planning regulations, and existing residents, with complete contempt.

 

Retrospective planning permission should be abolished. Unlawful settlement on land, which has no sanitory or other essential services, should be a criminal offence.

Why is this idea important?

Repeal the statutes which fail to safeguard rural areas from those who treat planning regulations, and existing residents, with complete contempt.

 

Retrospective planning permission should be abolished. Unlawful settlement on land, which has no sanitory or other essential services, should be a criminal offence.

Housing in the UK is a disgrace FIX IT

Give folk the opportunity to rent or buy an affordable home by firstly BUILD new homes then REGULATE ALL RENTS EVERYWHERE to protect folk from ripoffs in the rented market.

Why is this idea important?

Give folk the opportunity to rent or buy an affordable home by firstly BUILD new homes then REGULATE ALL RENTS EVERYWHERE to protect folk from ripoffs in the rented market.

Repealing unnecessary restrictions set out in Section 1 of the FOI Act

I wish to ask the coalition government to reconsider Section 1 of the FOI Act, and designate all 39 of the NDCs set up by the previous government's DCLG, 'public authorities' for this purpose and add them all to Schedule 1 of the FOI Act.

The coalition government could perhaps go even further by making all organisations spending public money subject the FOI Act.

Why is this idea important?

I wish to ask the coalition government to reconsider Section 1 of the FOI Act, and designate all 39 of the NDCs set up by the previous government's DCLG, 'public authorities' for this purpose and add them all to Schedule 1 of the FOI Act.

The coalition government could perhaps go even further by making all organisations spending public money subject the FOI Act.

The inequality of Council tax

If you are earning £12k per year your council tax bill will be 9/10% of your income – no rebate or allowance. Approx. £1100 -1200 per year on a B band.
If you are earning £25k per year your council tax bill will be 5/6% of your income approx.- £1100 – 1200 pa. on a B band.
If you are earning £50k per year your council tax bill will be approx. 2.5% of your income on a B band.

Well done Mr Heseltine as a millionaire you created a wonderful system that thumps the lowest paid.
How would you like to be paying 10% 0f your income on your mansion. Say £3 million – by gosh, that is £300,000 a year. Would you be happy with that?
Come on Liberals and Conservatives do something about it. The Labour party never did in 13 years what did you expect from Blair and Brown – fair play? Never.
 

Why is this idea important?

If you are earning £12k per year your council tax bill will be 9/10% of your income – no rebate or allowance. Approx. £1100 -1200 per year on a B band.
If you are earning £25k per year your council tax bill will be 5/6% of your income approx.- £1100 – 1200 pa. on a B band.
If you are earning £50k per year your council tax bill will be approx. 2.5% of your income on a B band.

Well done Mr Heseltine as a millionaire you created a wonderful system that thumps the lowest paid.
How would you like to be paying 10% 0f your income on your mansion. Say £3 million – by gosh, that is £300,000 a year. Would you be happy with that?
Come on Liberals and Conservatives do something about it. The Labour party never did in 13 years what did you expect from Blair and Brown – fair play? Never.
 

Bring back floats, bring back village and town carnivals

Community spirit has died. There are no floats, parades or village/town canivals and events that used to occur in th 90s, 80s and before and were driven by people in the community – not remote Town Hall bods. These events used to bring communities together, but they have disappeared because of red tape and pointless legislation which means it is either too costly or "too dangerous" to hold these events.

Legislation should be changed or repealed to allow these events to occur again!

Why is this idea important?

Community spirit has died. There are no floats, parades or village/town canivals and events that used to occur in th 90s, 80s and before and were driven by people in the community – not remote Town Hall bods. These events used to bring communities together, but they have disappeared because of red tape and pointless legislation which means it is either too costly or "too dangerous" to hold these events.

Legislation should be changed or repealed to allow these events to occur again!

repeal music licensing laws

As a musician I have watched my work  diminish as government interference through the complex procedure of music licensing has led to venues simply giving up live music. This coupled with the complete smoking ban has had a disastrous effect on the entertainment industry and coupled with the closure of 50 potential venues a week has literally robbed many musicians and entertainers of their livelihood. Now I know Ken Clarke is a keen jazz fan and I am sure that he would agree that anything that restricts live entertainment like this should be scrapped,because many budding musicians first experiences of live performance is often in pubs. In Ireland musicians can get together and provide inpromptu entertainment in a hostelry with no restrictions,this is impossible in England today.The law that restricts musical activity should be scrapped.

Why is this idea important?

As a musician I have watched my work  diminish as government interference through the complex procedure of music licensing has led to venues simply giving up live music. This coupled with the complete smoking ban has had a disastrous effect on the entertainment industry and coupled with the closure of 50 potential venues a week has literally robbed many musicians and entertainers of their livelihood. Now I know Ken Clarke is a keen jazz fan and I am sure that he would agree that anything that restricts live entertainment like this should be scrapped,because many budding musicians first experiences of live performance is often in pubs. In Ireland musicians can get together and provide inpromptu entertainment in a hostelry with no restrictions,this is impossible in England today.The law that restricts musical activity should be scrapped.

Council Tax Collection

Councils have been given far too many powers over the collection of Council Tax. Council Tax is an unfair tax because of the amount that is required by councils when families are already struggling throughout the UK. Far too often people fall behind and end up with council tax bailiffs knocking at the door or get threatening letters from the council. 

Council Tax bailiffs are known to be some of the most threatening and agressive in the country. 

I would like to see an end to councils being able to sub contract collection of council tax debt out to companies that already have a bad name as bailiffs. It is rediculous to expect someone to have money to pay council tax debt when they simply do not have any money to pay in the first place. And it is totally wrong that a council tax bailiff is allowed to take away possessions for sale – even though they probably dump them anyway. 

I would like to see Councils have the power taken away from them to use sub contracted bailiffs. Where people owe Council Tax, then a more formal arrangement and realistic figure should be agreed to pay. I understand this happens already, but councils often ask for unrealistic figures to be paid which push families further into a black hole. In some cases pushing families into poverty and neglect.

Half of the problem why people end up in council tax debt black holes is because they are simply frightened of what might happen to them if they don't catch up on payments. If councils started to communicate better, get officers that are friendly and understanding on the ground collecting arrears then they may find it far easier to agree realistic figures.

At the moment council officers are allowed to hide behind a smokescreen and use staff to collect payments which are often inexperienced and make mistakes. The staff can also be very aggressive and demand rediculous payment schedules while threatening bailiffs. And worst of all there is no face to these people so no-one really knows who they're paying.

Council Officers should do they're own collections on foot, not from an office where they use staff. 

Why is this idea important?

Councils have been given far too many powers over the collection of Council Tax. Council Tax is an unfair tax because of the amount that is required by councils when families are already struggling throughout the UK. Far too often people fall behind and end up with council tax bailiffs knocking at the door or get threatening letters from the council. 

Council Tax bailiffs are known to be some of the most threatening and agressive in the country. 

I would like to see an end to councils being able to sub contract collection of council tax debt out to companies that already have a bad name as bailiffs. It is rediculous to expect someone to have money to pay council tax debt when they simply do not have any money to pay in the first place. And it is totally wrong that a council tax bailiff is allowed to take away possessions for sale – even though they probably dump them anyway. 

I would like to see Councils have the power taken away from them to use sub contracted bailiffs. Where people owe Council Tax, then a more formal arrangement and realistic figure should be agreed to pay. I understand this happens already, but councils often ask for unrealistic figures to be paid which push families further into a black hole. In some cases pushing families into poverty and neglect.

Half of the problem why people end up in council tax debt black holes is because they are simply frightened of what might happen to them if they don't catch up on payments. If councils started to communicate better, get officers that are friendly and understanding on the ground collecting arrears then they may find it far easier to agree realistic figures.

At the moment council officers are allowed to hide behind a smokescreen and use staff to collect payments which are often inexperienced and make mistakes. The staff can also be very aggressive and demand rediculous payment schedules while threatening bailiffs. And worst of all there is no face to these people so no-one really knows who they're paying.

Council Officers should do they're own collections on foot, not from an office where they use staff. 

Outbuilding 2.5m height restriction planning law

Around 18 months ago, the planning laws regarding the installation of temporary outbuildings (e.g. sheds & summerhouses) was changed so that if any part of a building was within 2 metres of a boundary, no part of that building is allowed to be above 2.5m in height, without obtaining planning permission.

This has meant that effectively anybody looking to install a building in their garden that has anything other than a flat roof, needs to apply for planning permission (unless of course they have a very large garden).

I believe the law should be repealed back to its previous form, which had much less restrictive criteria regarding height.

Why is this idea important?

Around 18 months ago, the planning laws regarding the installation of temporary outbuildings (e.g. sheds & summerhouses) was changed so that if any part of a building was within 2 metres of a boundary, no part of that building is allowed to be above 2.5m in height, without obtaining planning permission.

This has meant that effectively anybody looking to install a building in their garden that has anything other than a flat roof, needs to apply for planning permission (unless of course they have a very large garden).

I believe the law should be repealed back to its previous form, which had much less restrictive criteria regarding height.

Live music

The Music Licensing Bill. This is a supposed health and safety measure that is easily covered by other legislation, Scotland did not consider it necessary.
In practice it means it is legal for two hundred drunken football fans to watch a football match in a pub on wide screen television. However it is illegal for an acoustic guitarist to play to a handful of people in an organic restaurant unless the restaurant has a license. The punishment for any musician that plays in a venue without a license is up to a £20,000 fine and two years imprisonment.

Why is this idea important?

The Music Licensing Bill. This is a supposed health and safety measure that is easily covered by other legislation, Scotland did not consider it necessary.
In practice it means it is legal for two hundred drunken football fans to watch a football match in a pub on wide screen television. However it is illegal for an acoustic guitarist to play to a handful of people in an organic restaurant unless the restaurant has a license. The punishment for any musician that plays in a venue without a license is up to a £20,000 fine and two years imprisonment.

Countryside & Right of Way Act 2000 Amendment re: RUPPs

The Countryside & Right of Way Act 2000 was amended such that RUPPs (Roads Used as Public Paths) were prohibited to vehicular traffic.

This closed access to the countryside to a range of previously legal activities.

Restore this access.

Why is this idea important?

The Countryside & Right of Way Act 2000 was amended such that RUPPs (Roads Used as Public Paths) were prohibited to vehicular traffic.

This closed access to the countryside to a range of previously legal activities.

Restore this access.

Planning Laws.

Please repeal the "peripheral" nonsense surrounding Planning regulations. Not the Planning laws themselves, but the incidentals which make planning a Nightmare. eg.. Bat surveys,English Heritage right to intervene,Archealogical surveys. All may well be laudible, but "Common Sense" & Local determination could reduce the Red Tape Massively.

Why is this idea important?

Please repeal the "peripheral" nonsense surrounding Planning regulations. Not the Planning laws themselves, but the incidentals which make planning a Nightmare. eg.. Bat surveys,English Heritage right to intervene,Archealogical surveys. All may well be laudible, but "Common Sense" & Local determination could reduce the Red Tape Massively.

Remove all the 32 people killed in 3 years type roadsigns

Putting such specific information on a roadsign is unnecessary and it must be remembered that those were real people and the relatives of those people may not necessarily wish to be reminded every single day of their loss. If you wish to remind people that a road is dangerous the current road signs using symbols are adequate. To the people who have not lost someone these signs soon become background very quickly hence are useless, and a grss waste of money. I would like to know how much has been spent on these in the last 5 years.

Why is this idea important?

Putting such specific information on a roadsign is unnecessary and it must be remembered that those were real people and the relatives of those people may not necessarily wish to be reminded every single day of their loss. If you wish to remind people that a road is dangerous the current road signs using symbols are adequate. To the people who have not lost someone these signs soon become background very quickly hence are useless, and a grss waste of money. I would like to know how much has been spent on these in the last 5 years.