Power of persistence proves politics can make a difference
Back when I was first elected, I repeatedly questioned the lack of action to resolve the derelict buildings in North East Cambridgeshire, only to be told by councils that landlords refused to act. I found this unacceptable, and researched in the House of Commons library for a way to resolve this. I uncovered some old legislation called a ‘section 215 notice’ which, once served, forced the landlord to repair the building.
As part of my ongoing campaign to clean up derelict buildings in North East Cambridgeshire I also questioned the Local Government Minister, on what encouragement his department is giving to Councils in using all the powers they have, such as section 215 notices, to tackle this.
A section 215 notice involves the council securing a court order that then means if the owner does not repair the building they can be hit by a daily fine. This financially compels property owners to bring their buildings up to scratch rather than just land banking them.
After years in which derelict buildings were left untouched locally, I wrote a 9 page memo to both local councils setting out how section 215 powers could be a game changer in forcing owners to repair buildings blighting our community. Previously there was an impasse as the cost of repairs was more than the building would be worth once completed, making it unattractive for the council to use compulsory purchase powers and allowing the owner just to sit on their hands.
The use of a section 215 notice on Constantine House in Wisbech first got the owner to repair the roof which previously had trees coming out of it, but it did not cover the windows which remained empty for pigeons to fly in and out of the building. I urged the council again to go back to court to keep up pressure for action which ensured that the owner re-started their repair work and restore the landmark Constantine House building.
The issue is about more than one property and I continue to apply pressure to councils to enforce similar action to other derelict buildings across the constituency.