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Not a laughing matter: Police crack down on sellers of 'deadly' nitrous oxide

25th July 2014

Police in Hackney are going after street sellers of nitrous oxide, better known as 'laughing gas'. More than 1,200 canisters of the 'legal high' were seized outside pubs and clubs in Shoreditch last Saturday night. The canisters are used to fill balloons which are then sold for up to £5 to users who inhale the gas for a short rush. The substance starves the brain of oxygen, making users light-headed and disoriented for a few minutes. Though inhaling nitrous oxide is not illegal, Hackney ...

Westminster must deliver more affordable homes and tackle empties - report

25th July 2014

An independent report has called on the London Borough of Westminster to build more homes for low and middle income residents, create more mixed tenure developments and do more to tackle empty properties. Ramidus Consulting's study recommends that Westminster City Council should: Deliver public sector rented homes for local people and shared ownership homes for local key workers within the borough. Seek to retain affordable housing on site in order to create and preserve mixed and balanced co...

Hard up renters turning to payday lenders for deposits

25th July 2014

Renters are being priced out of house and home by deposits that have soared by 50% since the financial crisis began, new data have shown. Figures from the government-backed Deposit Protections Service have revealed that the average deposit for a rented property in the North East of England has jumped from £600 to £900 since 2007, while wages have climbed by only 13%. And the steep hike means that 49% of renters in the region are having to borrow money to pay for their deposits, with m...

Councillors send gypsy site plans back to drawing board

24th July 2014

Stockton Council's councillors have decided that the current process for identifying potential gypsy and traveller sites in the borough be sent back to the drawing board. They have also agreed a recommendation that the council seek the secretary of state’s consent for the gypsy and traveller planning document to follow on from the adoption of its overall local plan. Council leader councillor Bob Cook said: “I am pleased that council has approved cabinet’s recommendations. We are going to ...

Damian Lewis look-alike social housing pro scoops top award

24th July 2014

A 33-year-old social housing professional has been named one of the UK's top 10 new generation business leaders in a national award scheme. Kingsley Thorton, an operational support director with social housing contractor Forrest, won Business in the Communities’ (BITC) Sieff Award for ‘Future Leaders’ in the North West region. Mr Thorton, who could be mistaken for film star Damian Lewis, leads 40 staff across a range of business functions, including compliance, learning & d...

Ditched housing minister to carry on homelessness 'work'

24th July 2014

Freshly axed housing minister Kris Hopkins has been asked to carry on his 'work' on homelessness. By specifically requesting that Hopkins dedicates himself to the task at hand, communities secretary Eric Pickles reckons he has reflected the 'importance of the issue'. The government says that since 2010 it has maintained over £500 million in funding to help those facing the threat of losing their home or sleeping rough. Pickles said: “We’ve maintained a strong safety net to en...

Tory MP cautioned by police after assaulting partner 'should go'

24th July 2014

A Tory MP who is facing disciplinary action after attacking his girlfriend has been urged to resign. David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmonds, assaulted his partner in his home four months ago, and was cautioned by police. With calls for him to step down, Ruffley issued an apology through his legal team, claiming that he does not "condone domestic violence". The MP's plight has been referred to new chief whip Michael Gove, who will now consider what action, if any, to take. The case was brought to Gove's att...

Over 50 'affordable' homes coming to Manchester after further HCA largesse

24th July 2014

New 'affordable' housing is to be built on spare land across north Manchester after the Homes and Communities Agency chucked a few quid in. The 56 properties will be built by Manchester City Council, which submitted a bid to the HCA's affordable homes programme - and netted itself £1 million. The funds will cover a fifth of the building costs, with the council making up the rest. The Riverdale area of Blackley will see 24 new homes built with the rest in Collyhurst - 11 will be built in I...

Yes, it's nearly 30 degrees but free insulation scheme launched in Devon!

24th July 2014

Though thoughts of cold winter nights might be far from most of our sweltering minds at present, a scheme in Devon is looking ahead and taking steps to help those living in fuel poverty. CosyDevon is offering up to 7,000 free or subsidised insulation and heating measures for the county's homes, as part of a scheme that will see up to £9 million invested in improving energy efficiency. Homeowners, private landlords and their tenants who meet the qualifying criteria will receive loft and cavity ...

Opinion: A response to the HCA’s affordable homes programme funding allocations

24th July 2014

By Jill Haley, chief executive of Byker Community Trust and North East chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing I think most people in the UK housing industry will join me in broadly welcoming this week’s funding announcement from the Homes and Communities Agency, which will see £850 million invested into social housing through the affordable homes programme. This money is much-needed and it will deliver positive outcomes for many families and communities. Building new homes for social rent offers many ec...