New initiative tackles housing fraud across North Yorkshire

An initiative to tackle housing fraud across North Yorkshire is being launched by a regional alliance led by Veritau.

In the past two years Veritau, a company owned by City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council which investigates fraud within the public sector, has freed over 40 misused properties allowing them to be legitimately let. In addition Veritau has provided information to prevent 15 false applications for housing to City of York Council.

Veritau and City of York Council have now joined forces with eight other social housing providers within North Yorkshire to create an anti-housing fraud alliance. The partners are Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Richmondshire District Council, Broadacres Housing Association, Harrogate Borough Council, Yorkshire Housing, Craven District Council, York Housing Association, and Selby District Council.

This partnership initiative focuses on identifying and prosecuting people who lie about their circumstances in order to obtain a property; tenants who unlawfully sublet their property; tenants who stop living at their property and people who provide false information to gain a property through succession rights.

Council housing sites – Freedom of Information request now reveals the sites that were considered.

When the Council announced its preferred list of locations for new Council houses 5 months ago, it refused to reveal which other possible locations had been considered.

Now a Freedom of Information request by Cllr Ann Reid has forced the Council to reveal the identity of the sites.

Green Lane garage site

Green Lane garage site

The sites under consideration were:
Green Lane garages (Westfield Ward)

Viking Road garages (Acomb Ward)

Infill land on Maple Avenue. (Bishopthorpe Ward)

Infill land to the rear of 21 – 51 Fossway (Heworth Ward)

The sites eventually selected were

Fenwick Street 9 Apartments
York Road, Haxby 4 Houses
Beckfield Lane 27 (Houses & Apartments)
Chaloners Road (Garage Court) 11 Apartments (possibly 8)
Hewley Avenue (Garage Court) 6 Apartments
Newbury Avenue (Garage Court) 9 Apartments

The Planning committee will consider the Beckfield Lane application next week. Thursday, 5th September, 2013 2.00 pm George Hudson Board Room – 1st Floor West Offices (F045)

Details here.

The application includes 9 “affordable” houses and 9 “affordable” flats. In total 27 units will be built there. There have been several objections to the plans

York Council – empty home shame

Oliver House York

The York Council is refusing to say when the former elderly person’s home at Oliver House will be brought back into use. The last residents moved out in April 2012.

Freedom of Information questions

Freedom of Information questions

Oliver House is located at the end of Priory Street in a prime City centre location near the Bar Walls. It has been valued at over £1 million.

Labour Councillors have refused to explain why the home has not been brought back into use.

It appears that the only occupants were a “secured by occupation” group who – in return for free accommodation – provide a security presence at the site.

York CVS announced in October 2012 an ambitious £1 million plan to house “22 charities” in the building. Media report

The planning application for the project was approved in February. The cost to remodel the building had by then increased to £1.3 million with most apparently to come from ”loans, grants and local businesses”.

It was unclear who would pay for the running costs of the project.

Despite being asked for an explanation of the delays at two successive Council meetings, Labour Councillors have remained tight lipped.

Now a Freedom of Information request has been submitted to the Council. This will force the Authority to reveal its plans within the next 4 weeks.

With over half the people registered on the housing waiting list requiring single bedroomed accommodation, many residents are puzzled why prime sites like these are not being scheduled for residential use ahead of green field sites.

To leave a building like this empty for over 18 months, and apparently with no prospect of occupation for at least another year, is shameful.