Rotherham Council has cancelled its remaining drop-in session on controversial plans to introduce selective licensing after disruption at earlier meetings.
The local authority is running a consultation until 24th March about proposals to introduce selective licensing of private rented properties in certain areas of Rotherham, including parts of Dinnington and Maltby.
The proposals, if given the go-ahead, would see landlords pay around £680 for a licence on a property and have to meet additional conditions.
The plans have angered many landlords, who claim property prices will fall and tenants will move out of the area if they are forced to put up rents to cover the cost of the licence.
But the council says it will tackle low housing demand, caused by high rates of householders leaving the area, high rates of empty property, high rates of environmental anti-social behaviour.
Several drop-ins have already taken place, including one at the Lyric Theatre in Dinnington last Friday and another at Ferham Children’s Centre, where police were called to break-up the session.
Rotherham Council said it had now taken the decision to cancel further sessions at Masbrough Community Centre on 17th February and Rotherham Town Hall on 7th March, after some people attended several sessions ‘with the apparent intent of disrupting the discussion.’
Dave Richmond, the council’s director of housing and neighbourhoods, urged people to continue to have their say on the plans.
He said: “We are keen for all people who live, work and own property in these areas to respond to the consultation and to inform the decisions which will be made by the council later in the year.”
“To help raise understanding of the potential scheme the council also planned seven drop in sessions with officers on hand to answer questions and provide information, and encourage attenders to fill in questionnaires.”
“However having ran four of these sessions it became apparent that a small number of people were attending multiple meetings with the apparent intent of disrupting the discussion.”
“We believe this prevented meaningful conversations taking place and in light of this have taken the decision to cancel the remaining meetings – but we are still urging people to put forward their views on the scheme until the end of the consultation.”
To ensure that as many people as possible can respond a full set of the proposals, the questionnaire, business plan and maps of the areas under consideration can be found at www.rotherham.gov.uk/landlordlicensing. The council has also sent out 16,000 paper copies of the consultation.