Alan Whitehead MP

Member of Parliament for Southampton Test

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I am delighted to announce the launch of the Southampton Rental Charter. The charter, supported by Citizen’s Advice Southampton, Southampton City Council,Royston Smith MP and ARLA, is an initiative to raise housing standards for private renters in Southampton.

I set up the charter in response to feedback from constituents and representatives from local letting agents.  I held a number of public meetings on housing where many of my constituents complained to me about standards in the private rental sector. Issues ranged from unprotected deposits to having requests for essential repairs go unanswered. Representatives from local letting agents were also worried about their reputation being marred by a minority of disreputable agencies. I came up with the idea for this charter in response to both concerns.

A number of Southampton letting agents have already signed up to the charter designed to raise awareness of those agencies that adhere to good practice and who have committed to run a reputable and high quality service for both landlords. The charter requires letting agents to produce a clear publication of fees and charges, have a dedicated complaints procedure and clear communication with landlords and tenants, deal with property repairs in a timely fashion and always be contactable and ensure properties are of a decent standard.  

The charter is supported by Southampton City Council and builds upon some of the work already done to improve private renting in the city. Councillor Dave Shields was pleased to see the introduction of the Southampton Rental Charter and said "The needs of the city's growing private rented sector tenants is a key priority for the City Council. As lead Council cabinet member with responsibility for this area, I very much welcome‎ Alan Whitehead's initiative in launching the Rental Charter which complements work we are carrying out in addressing issues with HMO s.”

Liz Donegan Chief Officer at Citizen’s Advice Southampton was also pleased to see action being taken. We warmly welcome this excellent initiative.  Between April 2014 and March 2016 we experienced a 26% rise in the number of clients coming to see us with private rented housing problems, the majority concerning disreputable letting agents. We hope more letting agents providing transparency in their dealings with both tenant and landlord will reduce bad business practices, and make this vital source of accommodation sustainable for all in the long term."

 To find out more about the Southampton Rental Charter click here. 

To let us know about your experience with local letting agents click here

 

Launch of the Southampton Rental Charter

I am delighted to announce the launch of the Southampton Rental Charter. The charter, supported by Citizen’s Advice Southampton, Southampton City Council,Royston Smith MP and ARLA, is an initiative to...

The vote on the Second reading of the Government’s Article 50 Bill was not about whether parliament wanted a rerun of the referendum, but on whether article 50 should be triggered now, and if so on what basis. 

The Supreme Court decided that the Government could not proceed to invoke Article 50 and thereby set the wheels in motion for a UK exit from the EU within a strict timetable of two years without a parliamentary vote on Article 50. The implication of this is that Parliament should debate this and decide on when and how Article 50 should be triggered.

The response of the Government was to produce a four line bill with no information about how negotiations might proceed and on what lines any negotiations might go along whilst claiming that anyone who did not support the Bill was going against the result of the referendum.  What information we did have before the vote on the Second Reading of the Bill was that the Government intend for us to have a very hard ‘Brexit’ – that is to abandon any association with the European Single Market, and to seek very little participation in any of the EU’s institutions in the future.

This is not a reasonable basis either for an informed debate in Parliament about the implications of triggering Article 50 now, or for a decision about the future direction of the UK once the two year process of withdrawal is complete. The referendum vote did not give any guidance about this: we simply decided by a narrow majority that Britain would leave the EU. There is a world of difference between a negotiation that seeks a good deal for British industry, maintains association with the EU on matters of British national interest, and gets the best terms for the UK in the future, and pushing a button on an exit that dumps the UK out of all its associations with nothing to take their place. I do not think most people who voted in the referendum thought that the latter outcome was what they were voting for.

I do not think that rushing into triggering Article 50 without clarity on what we will be doing is in our country’s best interest, and I was not prepared to stand by and allow us to go down what I regard as a potentially very dangerous path for the UK.

The first stage of the Bill is, however, complete and there will now be an opportunity to try and win amendments to the bill so that the Government is better guided in what it does in negotiations. I hope that some changes may be made, although it will not alter what I regard as a precipitate and ill-judged triggering of exit procedures. If no changes are forthcoming as the Bill makes its way through the stages of Parliamentary procedure, I will certainly be voting against it at Third Reading.

Why I voted against second reading of the Article 50 bill.

The vote on the Second reading of the Government’s Article 50 Bill was not about whether parliament wanted a rerun of the referendum, but on whether article 50 should be...

The Chancellor has promised support for working families struggling under the weight of in work benefits but in some cases they will get only £150 back after initial cuts of £2500. This will do nothing to help working families in Southampton struggling to make ends meet in minimum wage jobs. 

As the cost of living continues to rise after the referendum result the increase in minimum wage barely scratches the surface of what is needed to actually live day to day and it does nothing to address the needs of low paid workers under 25.

These measures also do nothing to disguise the fact that overall the economy has stagnated which will hit my constituents in Southampton hard in the coming months and years.  The policies announced today are designed to temporarily mask what is a continuing mismanagement of our economy and a chaotic approach to Brexit and I doubt whether they will even do that.  The numbers on growth, productivity and the deficit announced today were incredibly worrying.  

I welcome the government’s u-turn on their policy of not borrowing to invest as this is necessary to guide us out of the current downturn we are facing. However the investment level announced today is woefully short of what we need to ensure the security of much needed infrastructure and jobs.  

There are however some highlights in an otherwise worrying budget. I welcome the ban on letting agent fees as this is something that I, along with Labour colleagues, have been campaigning for since it appeared in our 2015 manifesto. I’m glad the Chancellor has heard our concerns and taken action.

I also welcome the £1.6 million investment to the Guildhall arts quarter in Southampton. The arts quarter will bring an added boost to our city whose regeneration is going from strength to strength under the stewardship of the Labour led Southampton City Council.   

Worrying Economic Mismanagement: My response to the Autumn Statement

The Chancellor has promised support for working families struggling under the weight of in work benefits but in some cases they will get only £150 back after initial cuts of...


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