Friday, 25 June 2010

Council agrees to real consultation over empty homes strategy

Cornwall Council has seen sense and has decided to extend the consultation period for its new empty homes strategy. The Council had previously allowed just three weeks for town and parish councils and anyone else who is interested to have their say.

For towns and parishes, this is just too short a time. Most only have meetings on a monthly basis and so a three week consultation often denies them the chance to discuss the issue and have their say. On this issue, Cornwall Council is looking to involve the local councils in finding empty properties and so the short consultation period was not the best way to boost their working relationships.

I raised the issue with officers and was told that they wanted to get the strategy in place as soon as possible because housing was an issue at the top of their list. I told them that a poor consultation raised the possibility of a poor policy and that a short amount of extra time now would pay dividends in the future. Cabinet Member Mark Kaczmarek told me he had yet to come across anyone who had a problem with the strategy and so it should just go ahead. To me that smacks of not understanding the point of consultation.

However, the Council has now emailed to say that the consultation will be extended to August 2nd and so all town and parish councils - as well as many other interested parties - will be able to contribute. I'm very grateful to the Council for seeing sense on this issue and have offered to work with the communications team to help set up a formal consultation policy so that this sort of exclusion won't happen again.

If you want to have your say on the empty property strategy, go to the consultation paper here.

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