RICHARD Blakeway states Mayor Johnson is spending £22m to tackle empty homes (Letters, April 16). In December 2007 Kensington and Chelsea's Labour Group persuaded the council to employ a full-time empty properties officer.
The Empty Homes Agency estimated there were 4,000-plus empty properties in the borough, and our dedicated officer now pounds the streets surveying homes supposedly under works, and identifying properties that appear abandoned. While we now have a new estimate of just 451 empty homes (which I find hard to believe) we are at least making progress in the private sector, and continue to report empty housing association and council properties as well.
Twenty-two million pounds is a lot of money, but this spreads very thinly across the capital, and could mean just £78,700 coming into Kensington and Chelsea. Is this a one-off or an annual sum?
Compulsory purchase orders and empty dwellings management orders are more often threatened than applied; landlords know this and take advantage, playing cat and mouse with the council. Without the very real impetus of political will and determination, and a number of legal precedents that might 'upset the voters', much of this is an empty gesture.
CLLR EMMA DENT COAD Golborne Ward Kensington and Chelsea