Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP Welcomes Council Support for HMO Campaign

12.45.00pm GMT Wed 12th Sep 2007

Stephen Williams MP and Cllr Alex Woodman are concerned about the issues surrounding large numbers of HMOs, such as parking and waste (photography: Alexander Woodman)

Stephen Williams MP and Cllr Alex Woodman are concerned about the issues surrounding large numbers of HMOs, such as parking and waste

Stephen Williams has this morning welcomed the support of Bristol City Council in the campaign to win more rights for local communities when family houses are to be turned into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Under the current system a family home can be changed into an HMO without any planning permission as they come under the same 'use class', meaning local councils have no control over the number of location of HMOs.

The City Council passed a motion yesterday evening expressing support for EDM 1488, a motion in Parliament which is calling for the definition of HMOs to be refined, and calling for more powers over their location to be given to local authorities. The motion, which was submitted by Liberal Democrat Councillor Alex Woodman (Cabot ward), also asks the Leader of Council to write to the Government supporting changes to the law in this area.

Commenting, Stephen Williams said: "Bristol is an influential city; by adding its voice to the already significant campaign, the Council has taken a huge step towards changing national Government policy, and giving power back to communities."

Cllr Woodman added: "Having a high density of HMOs in a small area can have a significant impact on local communities and infrastructure. Liberal Democrats are committed to the principle of balanced and sustainable communities, but in order to achieve and maintain that, it is essential that there is power to control HMOs when appropriate."

Representatives of Bristol's two university unions had expressed concern that they would be disproportionately affected by any change. Commenting on those concerns, Stephen Williams said,

"This change should benefit all members of the community, including students. I don't want to see parts of Bristol becoming ghettos, and I am sure that students would rather be part of a balanced community. The point of this campaign is to create neighbourhoods where people want to live and are able to stay. Students make a significant contribution to the culture and economy of Bristol, and I certainly don't want to give the impression that they are not welcome here. Indeed, I believe Bristol's two universities and the students that study here are a real asset to the city."

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