SOUTHWARK FOSTER CARERS EXEMPT FROM COUNCIL TAX FROM NEXT MONTH / LAMBETH CONSULT – ON CHANGING PLANNING CONSULTATIONS / ROGUE BUILDER GIVEN CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR ORDER IN TRADING STANDARDS ‘FIRST’ – One woman ‘cold-called’ over a seven-year period
SOUTHWARK FOSTER CARERS EXEMPT FROM COUNCIL TAX FROM NEXT MONTH
Foster carers in Southwark are to be exempt from council tax from April 2015.
Southwark council say the move is aimed at boosting recruitment and to recognise the commitment the carers make to some of the borough’s most vulnerable children.
Southwark say they are one of the first councils in London to offer a council tax exemption to foster carers.
“This new initiative is aimed at incentivising the recruitment of new foster carers in Southwark, as well as offering financial support for households already fostering Southwark children across the borough” said Southwark in a statement.
“It is also hoped that the exemption will help the council to recruit more local foster carers, as evidence suggests that stable placements near to home can present the best outcomes for children.
Cllr Victoria Mills, Southwark’s cabinet member for children and schools said; “We know foster carers play a vital role in looking after children and young people in Southwark and this initiative is a way of recognising the huge commitment they make to some of our most vulnerable children.
“With the council facing another year of significant budget cuts, this spending commitment shows how serious we are about giving all our children the very best start in life.
“We know one of the barriers for potential foster carers is the expense of raising a child in London, so we want to do all we can relieve financial pressure and encourage more Southwark residents to think about whether they could become a foster carer.”
Interested in fostering?
From Southwark’s website: Fostering is providing a stable and nurturing home for a child who is unable to live with their birth parents. This can be for a short or long period of time depending on the child’s needs.
You could be an approved foster carer within just 12 weeks, so why not make a career of fostering for Southwark?
We are recruiting new carers who can provide a safe and nurturing home for a child.
If you are energetic, a good listener, have the patience and understanding to give to a child and a spare room then you could be just the person we are looking for to join our team of excellent foster carers.
This year, for the first time registered Southwark foster carers will be entitled to claim 100% relief on their council tax.
We have over 500 children in need of a stable environment at any time in Southwark and we are looking for people of all backgrounds to become Southwark foster carers. This is a big decision, but it’s hugely rewarding to have the opportunity to make a difference to a child’s life.
Please come along to one of our informal information sessions for more information. Please Google southwark.gov fostering for further information. (Source: Southwark council press release)
LAMBETH CONSULT – ON CHANGING PLANNING CONSULTATIONS
Lambeth council are proposing changes to the way they consult the public on planning matters.
They say they will be concentrating on methods which work well and phasing out “less effective” methods such as providing libraries with physical copies of applications and sending neighbour notification letters to wide areas around development sites.
“In the past the council has sent out thousands of such notifications at considerable cost, but received minimal response” said a council statement.
“The planned changes will help us be more effective and will save money.
“The plans are part of a wider consultation on what’s called a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).
“Councils are required by law to have an SCI that sets out how and when local people and other interested parties will be involved in development plan preparation and consulted on planning applications.
“Lambeth’s current SCI was adopted in 2008 and has been outdated by changes to planning legislation, reductions in council funding and a greater use of online technology .
“The council proposes to continue to exceed its statutory requirements by sending notification letters to adjoining neighbours for all planning applications.
The new SCI supports smarter ways of working and engaging with the community and developers.
Lambeth’s cabinet member for jobs and growth Cllr Jack Hopkins said: “Many of the consultation measures we use are above and beyond what we’re legally required to do, and indeed what other London boroughs do.
“This is about doing what works, not simply because that’s the way we’ve always done it. “We’re facing the biggest financial challenge ever and have to find £90m of savings so we’re looking at everything we do to see whether it’s value for money.
“We know that workshops and focus groups are more useful than a mass mailing There’ll be better information online that people can use at home or in libraries and nothing changes your rights to object or comment on a planning application..”
Lambeth says an analysis of three recently consulted major applications strongly indicates that neighbour notification letters don’t get high response rates.
“For a major application at Wyvil Road (near Vauxhall park) 5076 letters were sent out but only eight comments were received back (response rate of 0.157 per cent). Similarly, for 1 Lambeth High Street (near Lambeth Palace) there was a low response rate of 2.7pc.
“The Higgs industrial estate (Herne Hill Road)application attracted a higher response rate of 13.6pc but this remains a low response.”
Following council cabinet approval, the revised SCI will be subject to public consultation for six weeks from 27 February 2015 and will be available on the council website and physical copies to view at all borough libraries, the Town Hall (Brixton) and Phoenix House (10 Wandsworth Rd. London. SW8 2LL) receptions
Lambeth say the draft SCI meets minimum statutory requirements and proposes the following changes to consultations on planning applications:
• Neighbour notification letters sent only to those sharing a boundary with the subject site (i.e. statutory minimum) instead of the current practice of sending out sometimes thousands of letters which is costly and does not provide any significant increase in response rates;
• Including more information on the planning process (for example how people can keep themselves updated on the application) in the initial neighbour notification letter (where used).
The letter will also list all other neighbours notified of the proposal;
• Where site notices are not statutorily required, the council may request the developer to erect a site notice(s) and ask for evidence to prove it has been done; and
• Libraries will no longer hold physical copies of planning applications and drawings. These are available to view free of charge on the library computers via the council website. (Source: Lambeth council press release.)
ROGUE BUILDER GIVEN CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR ORDER IN TRADING STANDARDS ‘FIRST’ – One woman ‘cold-called’ over a seven-year period
A 77-year-old rogue builder has been been given a criminal behaviour order after carrying out a cold-calling campaign on elderly victims who he conned out of several thousands of pounds.
The pensioner, from Tooting, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, at Croydon crown court.
He was also given a criminal behaviour order, which prevents him from cold-calling or carrying out any unsolicited building work anywhere in England or Wales.
“This is the first time a criminal behaviour order has been granted in London specifically for a trading standards investigation” said a Croydon council spokesman.
The builder had pleaded guilty to a series of fraud offences relating to the door stepping of elderly victims in the Norbury and Thornton Heath areas where he would offer to carry out building work for “extortionate” amounts of money, the spokesman added.
“In one case,he regularly cold called an 89-year-old widow over a seven year period, duping her into making some 26 payments amounting to more than £26,000.
“Another paid him £8,000 for two garden beds to be filled with concrete while one lady was charged £3,000 for roofing work.
“Confiscation proceedings have now been launched against the man, which will examine his assets to see what he gained as a result of his criminal activity.”
Croydon council leader Cllr Tony Newman, leader of the council, said: “I’d like to praise our excellent trading standards officers for successfully prosecuting this case.
“This man preyed on some of our borough’s most vulnerable residents and he has finally been brought to justice.
“These were despicable and callous crimes which as the judge said, would have resulted in a custodial sentence had it not been for his medical condition.
“We’d like to remind residents to always get a recommendation from a trusted source, such as www.trustmark.org, when looking for reputable traders. “Equally we’d appeal to people to look out for their elderly relatives or neighbours to protect them from rogue traders.”
The builder had pleaded guilty to three offences under the Fraud Act and three offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. (Source: Croydon council press release.)