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House of Commons Hansard
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Petitions
09 January 2017
Volume 619

Petitions

Monday 9 January 2017

Observations

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Bozeat branch of the Post Office

The Humble Petition of residents of Bozeat, Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas,

Sheweth,

That the Petitioners believe that the Bozeat branch of the Post Office should extend its opening hours to 9am until 5pm six days a week; and further that to accommodate greater usage of the facility and to prevent congestion at other facilities used elsewhere by the villagers.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to encourage the Post Office to extend the opening hours of their Bozeat village branch.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr Peter Bone , Official Report, 8 November 2016; Vol. 616, c. 1488.]

[P001976]

Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Margot James):

The Government recognise the value of Post Office services to local communities across the country and understand that any change to service provision can cause concern for the community affected.

The Post Office operates as an independent business and the Government do not interfere in day to day operational responsibilities of the company, which includes decisions on the provision and location of individual Post Office services.

The Post Office appreciates how important its services are to local communities and is committed to maintaining access to services wherever possible. Unplanned closures can occur as a result of a situation beyond the control of the Post Office. Where this happens, the Post Office works quickly to try to restore services to the community, where possible.

The Government understand that the Post Office undertook a local consultation in the community prior to the reintroduction of services via the current partner outreach arrangement operating from the local village shop. If the community has further concerns regarding the provision of local Post Office services it should raise these direct with the Post Office.

Communities and Local Government

Tenancy of St Michael's Gate, Parnwell

The petition of residents of Peterborough,

Declares that residents of St Michael’s Gate are being threatened by eviction from their landlords Stef and Philips acting on behalf of Paul Simon Magic Homes; further that the private landlord who has recently acquired St Michael’s Gate has entered into agreement with Peterborough City Council to house homeless people at the properties; further that as a result of this agreement, all current longstanding tenants will be evicted, and some former tenants, including families, have had to declare themselves homeless; and further that Peterborough City Council should be doing more to support residents against their eviction by the private landlords.

The petitioners therefore urge the House of Commons to put pressure on Peterborough City Council to ensure that residents of St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell, Peterborough, are protected from eviction by their landlords.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Stewart Jackson , Official Report, 2 November 2016; Vol. 616, c. 1006.]

[P001971]

Observations from the Minister for Housing and Planning (Gavin Barwell):

The Government recognise the difficult position that residents of St Michaels’s Gate have been placed in by their landlord’s decision to apply for possession, and we are aware that this has resulted in some households approaching the local authority for help.

Local authorities have duties toward homeless households. For unintentionally homeless households in priority need, authorities must secure suitable settled accommodation. If this is not available then the household must be placed in temporary accommodation until settled accommodation can be found.

We know that Peterborough Council has issued a statement committing to support the residents of St Michael’s Gate if they require help finding alternative accommodation, and stating that households who are unable to secure alternative accommodation without support can contact the council’s housing needs team.

The decision to gain possession of St Michael’s Gate is a private matter for the landlords and our understanding is that the offer of the properties to Peterborough Council as temporary accommodation was made following this decision.

As regards the use of St Michael’s Gate as temporary accommodation for homeless families, the sourcing of such accommodation is for local authorities to decide on, depending on availability and household need in the area (subject to the statutory guidelines requiring the accommodation to be suitable). However, our understanding is that the properties in St Michael’s Gate are being taken by the council on three year leases, and we would encourage authorities to procure temporary accommodation under agreements of this length, which give more stability to homeless families than short term agreements.

Private Sector landlords play an important role in meeting the housing needs of many households. The Housing Act 1988 enables a landlord to regain possession of their property at any time after any fixed term comes to an end or at any time during a contractual or statutory periodic tenancy, provided it is at least 6 months since the start of the original tenancy. The landlord must also give the tenant at least two month notice that he or she requires possession.

Without the certainty that landlords can seek repossession when required, landlords would be reluctant to let their properties. We believe that more restrictive and excessive legislation would mean that fewer homes would be available to rent. This would not help landlords or tenants.

The Government are committed to building a bigger, better private rented sector which provides security and stability for both tenants and landlords. We know how important housing affordability is land believe that increasing supply is the best way of improving quality, choice and affordability for tenants. We have introduced several initiatives to tackle this, including a £630 million fund providing equity finance to house builders and developers to stimulate building for private rent, and a debt guarantee for up to £10 billion for private rented and affordable housing schemes.