Bad news for councils on business rates and empty properties

“Councils may be left unable to claim some £10m in business rates after Rossendale Borough Council lost a test case in the Court of Appeal over empty properties.

The case arose over property owners who lease unoccupied premises to another company which then becomes liable for business rates. The second company is then either voluntarily liquidated or struck off without liability for rates returning to the first company. …”

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/property/404-property-news/40072-court-of-appeal-blow-for-councils-over-business-rates-and-empty-properties

RDE struggling to cope with winter pressures

“NHS England publishes weekly reports which reveal whether hospital trusts are struggling to manage during the colder months, based on key indicators.

This is how Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, which includes the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and 26 community hospitals across the Devon, coped from February 25 to March 3.

Bed Occupancy:

General and acute wards at the trust were 89.8 per cent full on average, above the safe limit of 85 per cent recommended by health experts. The occupancy rate has remained mostly unchanged since the previous week.

British Medical Association (BMA) guidelines state ‘to ensure safe patient care, occupancy should ideally not exceed 85 per cent’.

The BMA also raised concerns about the number of available beds needed to cope with winter demands.

On average, the trust had 670 available beds each day, of which 602 were in use.

Of those, 28 were escalation beds – temporary beds set up in periods of intense pressure.

According to NHS Improvement, a higher proportion of long-stay patients can impact the ability of hospitals to accommodate urgent admissions and manage bed capacity.

At the trust, 285 patients had been in hospital for a week or more, taking up nearly half of the occupied beds.

Of these, 96 patients had been in hospital for at least three weeks, making up 16 per cent of all occupied beds.

Ambulances:

A total of 532 patients were taken by ambulance to A&E during the week. A slight rise in emergency arrivals compared to the previous week, when 523 patients were brought by ambulance.

All of the patients arriving at a hospital by ambulance were transferred within 30 minutes.

NHS guidance states that ambulance crews should hand patients over to A&E staff within 15 minutes of arrival.

Any delay in transferring patients leaves ambulances unable to respond to other emergencies, as well as risking their patients’ safety. The previous week, three patients waited more than 30 minutes to be transferred.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/rd-e-winter-pressures-1-5933264

“Right to Buy homes re-sold since 2000 made £6.4bn in profit” (many sold within 6 weeks)

Proof that the destruction of social housing is a Conservative policy.

“A former council tenant bought their home under Right to Buy for £8,000 and sold it on for £285,000 nine days later – a £277,000 profit, the BBC found.

The Solihull buyer was among 140 in Great Britain who bought and resold within one month, making a £3m collective profit.

Opponents of the scheme said too many people had profited from a policy that had “much bigger social ambitions”.

Supporters said Right to Buy helped people secure their financial future.
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) said it was “shocking to see the extent of the profit margin in black and white”.

It called for the scheme to be suspended in England. In January it was halted in Wales, as it was in Scotland in 2016.

Housing commentator Henry Pryor said: “Far too many… simply profited from a scheme that had much bigger social ambitions”. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47443183

Corruption ad poor police investigatillon of it in local elections

The 2014 election victory by Lutfur Rahman in the contest for Mayor of Tower of Hamlets was eventually over-turned for electoral corruption, but police investigations did not result in criminal convictions. The resulting controversy over the police’s actions resulted in Operation Lynemouth: an investigation into what the police did and why.

The final report from Operation Lynemouth is now out, and it is pretty damning:

The policing of the election and the subsequent investigation were deficient in too many areas. There was a lack of corporate responsibility, a lack of training and insufficient resources for the MPS’s special enquiry team’s investigation. We were also concerned that, when another MPS department investigated allegations other than electoral fraud, potential lines of enquiry were disregarded. Furthermore, there was an otherwise uncoordinated approach to all the investigations, with little oversight at a senior officer level for the first year, which meant that opportunities might have been missed.

Scope has also been identified for a new police investigation:

Operation Lynemouth’s investigators have identified avenues of enquiry that can still be explored, and City of London Police has agreed to undertake an independent criminal investigation.”

Operation Lynemouth: final report

Here is the full report”
https://3859gp38qzh51h504x6gvv0o-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/files/2019/03/Operation-Lynemouth-review-of-police-handling-of-electoral-corruption-allegations-in-Tower-Hamlets.pdf

https://www.markpack.org.uk/157907/operation-lynemouth-tower-hamlets/