Renting In Peterborough – Massive Scandal Mooted

09:50 Thursday 4th October 2012
Mid-Morning Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

RONNIE BARBOUR: Here comes John, John Knowles. Hi John.
RONNIE BARBOUR: You’re a Labour councillor from Peterborough. Talking of the state of rental properties, and how you can get it fixed and the response from landlords. What have you got for me John?
JOHN KNOWLES: Well, the state of local properties, there’s a local house-hunter who lives near to me, who’s on benefits. And every property she’s looked at that’s affordable for her is in an unliveable state. Either they haven’t got a proper bathroom, or a proper kitchen. Just totally unsuitable for a family; and a friend of mine who had a rented house with the walls actually running like a tap down the inside of the front room wall. So we really have a problem with rented houses in Peterborough.
RONNIE BARBOUR: I wonder .. there must be rules and regulations John about what is minimum standard.
JOHN KNOWLES: I believe there are. But I believe we may have a problem in Peterborough with enforcement, due traditionally really perhaps because maybe even the majority of councillors actually own rented properties. They’re landlords. And others have got connections with letting agencies. So perhaps the will isn’t there. Now we’ve got a cut in budget. The Government have cut the Council budget by 28%. So it’s even more difficult for them to afford to enforce any regulations, even if they wanted to. And I’m not sure they do.
RONNIE BARBOUR: It’s not just about the accommodation as well, because I can remember my son whose partner, when they moved into a house, and it had really bad damp. Ended up affecting asthma, and things like that. There are other things that can be a knock-on from a bad state of rental accommodation. So you can end up actually in the end being a lot more in terms of health care as well. It’s just interesting that in this day and age that we are still getting problems like this. I just find it amazing.
JOHN KNOWLES: Well it’s to do with society. What we really need, we really need to realise that we’re all one society, and what we need, we don’t need more affordable housing. , what we need is more social housing that people can actually afford to rent. And obviously we’re not getting that. That’s probably a political thing.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Yes, well I think it’s both parties. The Labour Party weren’t great at building rented property either John, and the Coalition don’t seem to be doing that road.
JOHN KNOWLES: Hang on. They were not as good as I’d like them to be, but they were an awful lot better than this government. And please don’t run that one on me, because ..
RONNIE BARBOUR: Well they didn’t come up with .. they didn’t live up to the promises of their election …
JOHN KNOWLES: Absolutely. Absolutely.
RONNIE BARBOUR: What? They delivered the amount of rented accommodation they said?
JOHN KNOWLES: No they didn’t live up to it.
RONNIE BARBOUR: No, I’m talking about the Labour Party as well.
JOHN KNOWLES: Yes I agree with you that the Labour Party didn’t live up to its .. but they did an awful lot better than this government is doing.
RONNIE BARBOUR: And Peterborough has a massive demand for rented property John as well.
JOHN KNOWLES: Yes, it’s one of the highest demands in the country. And of course this means that we’re getting, in my opinion, low-life from all over the country buying up property and renting it out, under all sorts of weird names. This scandal is going to hit eventually. It’s going to be massive.
RONNIE BARBOUR: John, thank you.
JOHN KNOWLES: Rachmanism is alive and well, and it’s in Peterborough, and it needs exposing. Thank you for bringing it to the attention of the public.
RONNIE BARBOUR: John Knowles, who’s a Labour councillor from Peterborough.