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Conference salutes Chris Skinner

A very successful and well-attended Empty Homes Conference on Wednesday in Birmingham contained one poignant moment, when the delegates showed their appreciation for Chris Skinner, who sadly died in February, by offering a collective salute.

Chris  was well-known for his work as a solicitor supporting Empty Homes practitioners up and down the country over many years, particularly in the area of Compulsory Purchase.  He had also spoken at two previous conferences.

At the suggestion of Nick Pritchard-Gordon, Chair of EHN and the Conference, delegates raised their arms to make a "YES" shape, to honour Chris's positive, can-do attitude.

We  will continue miss Chris and the delegates' salute was made also on behalf of many times more people who could not attend the event.

Salute to Chris Skinner

For his  obituary see here.

 

Destin seeks partners for NHB data cleansing pilot

Destin Solutions Ltd. is seeking to help local authorities maximise NHB by partnering with a local authority empty homes team or practitioner to pilot new approaches to data cleansing of the 2017 CTB return.

Duncan Baxter was a last-minute addition to the 2016 Empty Homes Conference, when we learned of Destin’s work with Preston and Lancaster councils’ Shared Services on this issue.  With Destin, rather than the work being outsourced in its entirety in the model adopted by some councils using CapacityGrid or Capita, the approach involved  supporting the council tax teams by sourcing additional information.

Put empty homes officer in every council, says Shelter Scotland

Shelter Scotland has issued a Local Government Manifesto for Homes - part of their  'Homelessness - Far from Fixedcampaign - which calls for every local authority to employ a dedicated Empty Homes Officer.

The manifesto is aimed at the local government elections and is part of a campaign to get candidates to sign up to four commitments.

Commitment 1, 'Deliver a home for everyone in Scotland', includes 3 action points:

  • All local authorities to commit to delivering the required affordable housing to meet the needs of their area.
  • All local authorities to provide access for all households living in fuel poverty to information, support and assistance.
  • All local authorities to have a dedicated empty homes officer to bring more empty homes back into use.

Fiona King, public affairs manager at Shelter Scotland, has blogged about the importance of local government elections for the campaign here.

 

OTHER STORIES

Cromwood Social sponsors Before-and-After Photo Award

Cromwood Social has stepped in to sponsor the Empty Homes Award for Best Before-and-After Photo, which is a new award category this year. Details of the Award Category can be found in our news story here.

We were contacted yesterday by Cromwood's Abdus Saleh with the offer of sponsorship, which we were happy to accept. Cromwood Social is also going to provide Silver Supporter sponsorship.

Two more empty homes award categories announced - submissions please

 

 

We are looking for submissions for two more categories in the Empty Homes Awards 2017.  These are new categories which are being sponsored by the Empty Homes Network itself this year.

 

 

Best before-and-after photos

This Award is now being sponsored by Cromwood Social which is a part of the Cromwood Group.

Scottish Conservatives pledge further action on empties

Whilst the Conservative goverment at Westminster removed empty homes from the policy landscape in the wake of the 2015 General Election (following the complete absence of the issue from the Tory election manifesto) the issue is alive and kicking amongst Scottish Conservatives. Partly no doubt thanks to Shelter Scotland's successful Empty Homes Partnership, there seems to be a a broad-based, cross-party consensus about the need for central (in this case, Scottish) government to play its part.

Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year 2017 - send us your submissions

Every year, at the National Empty Homes Conference, we present awards to recognise excellence in empty homes work. One of the most coveted awards is that for Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year.

We are proud that this year's award is sponsored by Kent's No Use Empty partnership, led by Kent County Council.

Chris Skinner 1958-2017

Christopher Frank Skinner

 Chris Skinner died on 14 February on his 59th birthday at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, close to his home in Hethersett.

Chris had been in hospital since late December suffering from Guillain Barré syndrome and his sudden death was as a result of complications.

Cromwood offers empty homes funding to London authorities

Abdus Saleh, once of London Rebuilding Society and now Empty Homes Manager at Cromwood Housing plc, has provided the following information about a funding package that can help local authorities and other social housing providers bring empties back into use.

Funding: key details

£2m from a social bank to bring back into use empty properties for the use of social housing. Typical nomination terms to the council will be 5-10 years or something bespoke but a minimum of 5 years.

Recent compulsory purchase consultation

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced a number of small changes to compulsory purchase procedures, which have little impact in relation to the compulsory acquisition of empty homes. There were, however, two provisions which are of greater note. One allows the Secretary of State to delegate to an inspector the decision whether or not to confirm a contested CPO. The other provides for the Secretary of State to specify time limits for making decisions on contested CPOs.

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