Life in the Lakes - New Year musings!

January 2017

Happy New Year to you all!

I wonder what new challenges will face us this coming year? 

At the start of a new year I like to think about what I could improve on in my job - what could I do differently?  Is there a different approach I could try with our empty home owners, or target a specific area or type of property maybe…?

This is definitely a great time to contact our empty home owners following the holidays and start of a new year.  Time to remind them of the benefits of bringing their empty homes back into use and how we can help them to do this.  And it won’t hurt to remind them of the consequences of their doing absolutely nothing(!)

For ourselves, we’re already looking forward to a visit to our Cumbria Empty Property Group on 17th January by Helen Williams, the Chief Executive of the Empty Homes Agency (EHA).  I’ve asked each of our group members to write out three ‘wishlists’.  

First of all, what do we (as a county) feel is the best thing that the EHA could do for Cumbria (by lobbying the government)?

Secondly (as individual local authorities) what resources do we need to be even more effective in our empty homes work?   For example in our county three of our six councils do not currently have a full-time empty homes officer.  And what could we achieve if this was in place?

And finally, if money was no object, what would our wishlist look like?  And yes, I do realise that this is more ‘wishful thinking’!  But it’s always an interesting exercise.

It’s really encouraging that Helen is making the effort to visit us, as we are a mix of rural, town and city with very different empty homes issues in each district.  Cumbria is often included in ‘North West England’ empty homes figures, but the empty homes situation can be entirely different even within our own county of Cumbria.   We feel very positive that Helen and the EHA will be listening to our empty homes issues.  Hopefully this will help to give the EHA an idea of how different regions up and down the country can need very different solutions to their empty homes problems. 

Best wishes from the Lakes,

Lynne Leach, Empty Homes Officer, South Lakeland District Council