Debate on Portsmouth landlords cancelled at council meeting

AN 'IMPORTANT' debate on licensing private landlords in Portsmouth was not held at full council yesterday after half of councillors were excluded from voting.

The debate on landlord licensing could not be heard
The debate on landlord licensing could not be heard

Any councillors that were private renters or landlords had to leave the chamber during the item, including Councillor Tom Coles who had seconded the motion, due to conflict of interest.

The remaining 19 councillors then voted against a new seconder after it was warned this could set a 'dangerous precedent.'

Proposer Councillor Cal Corkery, of the Labour Party, said: 'I think it's a shame the council voted not to hear the motion as this is something that is such an important issue.

'We will be looking at other options to get this to debate, because it is important that we get it to debate and explore this.

'But this is what happens when you take the conflict of interest wording so widely.'

But Tory Cllr Scott Payter-Harris criticised the situation. 'The problem is that the Labour party put in a motion without running it by the council's legal team first, which in my mind shows incompetence,' he said.

'Once you start ignoring the council's constitution you set a dangerous precedent.'

The motion called on councillors to agree to a selective licensing process that would require the council to run checks on, and monitor, private landlords in the city.

Housing boss Cllr Darren Sanders said: 'I have asked officers to look into selective licensing and if this is is something that would work in Portsmouth.

'We as an administration want to make sure it's easier and safer for people to privately rent.'

Members of the public attended to share their views on the motion.

Kirsty Mellor said: 'A home is a human right. Everyone should have a decent warm home they can afford and that's secure.

'We believe landlords should be checked out with a right and proper person test.'

But Martin Silman, chairman of the Portsmouth and District Private Landlord's Association, said: 'There is a lot you can do to help but selective licensing is not part of the solution. If you vote for selective licensing you are delaying action for at least a year.'