This week, I spoke to the BBC about a nightmare exempt accommodation property in my constituency. The property has been the centre of a number incidences, including alleged abuse at local school pupils and parents, evidence of drug usage, significant anti-social behaviour and even one where residents had a bloody altercation in front of the school children. I have discovered that a property which is a living nightmare for my constituents is in fact owned by Birmingham City Council. This is particularly disappointing. I am calling on the Council to get its own house in order as I continue to campaign for the government to crack down on unscrupulous providers of exempt accommodation. We need the government to introduce a “fit and proper person” test for providers and annual checks should be carried out, to make sure the funding they received to run the homes was being used in the way it was intended. Read the article here.
For too long residents of Bordesley Green and Small Heath have not had access to the swimming pool at Small Heath Leisure Centre. I know residents are incredibly frustrated because they have seen no plans to get the pool back into use. Our community should not have to put up with this. I have been writing to the council on this issue since the pool closure to try and find a resolution, but I feel they have not been moving fast enough. I am continuing to work with local councillors on this issue, so keep your eyes on my social media for updates.
A cross-party committee of MPs has today published a report which finds that the system of exempt accommodation is “a complete mess”. The Committee rightfully notes that “the current system offers a licence to print money to those who wish to exploit it”. It makes a number of recommendations to government to address the serious shortfalls in care and value for taxpayers money. These echo what I have been campaigning for, for years, including the introduction of national standards and planning powers for local councils to stop over-saturation of exempt properties within one area. It is high time the government acted. I will be pushing for the government to implement the Committee’s recommendations at pace. Our community should not have to wait any longer.
I have also managed to secure a debate on the finance sustainability and governance of English football in the House of Commons Chamber for the 7 November 2022. This will give me an opportunity to raise the myriad of issues plaguing Birmingham City Football Club currently and push the Government to introduce an independent football regulator as quickly as possible.