It’s not often I get political on the blog these days – local politics is a stagnant mess and national politics is so far beyond satire it’s impossible to make anything out of it. But something popped up in my facebook timeline yesterday that really needs addressing.
The screenshot of a Facebook post made on Wednesday, 9th January 2018 by the staff of our member of Parliament, Wendy Morton shows the lady herself and her diminutive pal, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street posing in Brownhills High Street.
Talking effusively about investment in our high streets.
Carefully concealed from view is the derelict, rotting hulk of Ravens Court, the precinct abandoned by its owners seven years ago that is a scar on our town and a seemingly intractable problem.
Now, I’m not foolish enough to think that the council or politicians directly can change the fate of Ravens Court – the story of its dereliction can be found by clicking here. Permission was granted for a new development there last year, but construction seems unlikely to happen considering nobody representing the owners was present at the planning meeting and the subsequent absence of any action onsite.
What I’d like to ask our MP Wendy directly is this (and Andy Street could answer, if he’s available between photoshoots) – when are you going to propose or support legislation to bring absentee and neglectful landlords to account, and make them either keep their properties in use or dispose of them?
Brownhills is blighted by Ravens Court, owned as a property investment by people with no connection to the town. It’s dereliction is meaningless to the owners who do not have to live with it. When is this government going to bring forward law to tackle this blight, with empty buildings decaying in every town in the UK because Councils have no power to bring speculative, land-banking landlords to account?
The slim power that exists at the moment can easily be avoided by developers gaming the system, and it would not be churlish to think that might be going on in Brownhills. What are your proposals Wendy, as our MP, to deal with this?
Ten years ago we had David Cameron send Mary Portas who was to be the saviour of our High Streets. What happened to that?
The floor is open Wendy. This is a public forum read by thousands of people every week, as opposed to the less than 1,000 who follow you currently on Facebook.
This is your chance. I know you don’t get the time to answer every email, so this is nice and easy: What are you really doing, Wendy?
Update – shortly after publication, Wendy’s staff replied. For some reason, they are not inclined to reply publicly. One can only speculate as to why delaying tactics would be employed on such a simple question.