Friday brief: Fire risk of controversial HMOs
The fire danger of multi-occupancy housing, some news in brief, our independent business of the week and activities for the weekend
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What you might have missed
This week we took a look at the first year of Northamptonshire’s unitary authorities. We spoke to the county’s political leaders about what’s working and what could be done better.
NN Friday Focus
The fire risk of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) has been highlighted in a report for the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel.
Despite just 5.4 per cent of the UK population living in a HMO, multi-occupancy properties account for 34.8 per cent of all fire deaths.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service says it will audit 200 HMOs that are new or unknown to them as a significant amount of the enforcement action it has taken in the past has involved properties they’ve had no contact with.
The report says:
“In HMOs you find independent people/families living their lives with minimal interaction with the other residents. Experience on protection inspections shows that not only will residents not know who is in or out at the time of our visit, they may never know the names of the other residents. Clearly this exacerbates the risk in the event of a fire, an emergency situation, where crews are trying to identify if persons have failed to evacuate or where they may be located.
“Residents will work different shifts, cook at different times and potentially have a higher fire loading and more fire hazards within their own rooms.”
Multi-agency action taken in Semilong in Northampton recently resulted in the fire service issuing a prohibition order to one HMO and a number of others being referred for home fire safety checks.
The issue of HMOs has been well debated in recent years with many councillors and residents raising concerns about the impact they have on local communities and the conditions tenants are living in.
News in brief
Residential development plans for Abington Street in Northampton town centre will be discussed at a council cabinet meeting next week.
The proposals, which could take up to ten years to complete, would see three town centre buildings including the former Marks and Spencers and BHS units turned into 342 apartments. The third building is a former derelict office block at 20-28 Wood Street. A report to be considered by the West Northamptonshire Council cabinet recommends that the authority should draw down £9.7m from the Towns Fund to enable the project.
A van driver has died following a collision with a lorry in Yardley Hastings yesterday morning. The man, aged 63, died at the scene. Anyone with information should email CollisionAppeals@northants.police.uk or contact Northamptonshire Police on 101.
Seven people have been arrested as part of a Northamptonshire Police operation to tackle those who do not attend court hearings. The day of action focused on four areas of Northampton. PC Aaron Dilley said:
“Neighbourhood policing is all about being plugged into our communities and making the areas we’re responsible for as safe as possible. By ensuring those people charged with an offence have their day in court is all part of this aim.”
Corby MP and Justice minister Tom Pursglove has written in the Times this week about changes to the law which will allow for ‘no fault’ divorces. He wrote:
“This shake-up of our divorce laws — the most significant in half a century — will do away with this needless hostility that harms children. The act removes the need for couples to prove one side is at fault, so no child has to experience mum and dad battle out their divorce in court.
“It’s widely accepted that a messy divorce can harm children long term and into adulthood, whereas a more amicable separation, with positive co-parenting afterwards, can protect children against the adverse effects.
“Now, couples or an individual can make a statement of irretrievable breakdown in order to end their marriage.”
Independent business of the week
15 Collingwood is a gorgeous furniture and homeware shop on Collingwood Road in Northampton which also stocks art, jewellery and ceramics. Find out more here: https://www.15collingwood.com/
🥗There's a food and drink festival at Kettering’s Market Place on Saturday between 10am and 8pm. The festival also includes live music from a range of local artists, roaming entertainment including a juggler and magician, games in Market Street and local independent sellers in The Yards.
🕺🏽 There are still tickets available for Lord of the Dance at the Derngate this weekend. More information here: https://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/lord-of-the-dance/
🐰Stanwick Lakes has an Easter Egg trail and Easter activities this weekend. The trail costs £3 per person and no booking is required