The Daily Express has returned to its theme of bashing EDMOs this week. In one of its better articles it reported the first EDMO in Oxfordshire yesterday under the heading. “Alarm over council seizing Britain’s first empty home”. Amongst the coverage. It trotted out again two glaring errors which it has made before:
There is no appeal against an EDMO and there are 400,000 empty council houses.
The truth is there is an appeal. In fact there are lots of appeal provisions. To say otherwise is simply wrong. I’ve pointed this out to the Express before, but they have either made an error or perhaps the facts don’t suit their argument.
The figure of 400,000 empty council houses is interesting. The true figure is 43,000. Still too many incidentally, but a long way from 400,000. I think I know where they’ve gone wrong. According to last years figures there were a total of 680,000 empty homes in England. Of these 280,000 were long term privately owned empty homes. I think the Express has taken one figure away from the other and assumed the resulting figure must be the number of empty council houses. Wrong. In fact it is mainly made up of private homes empty for less then 6 months. It’s a forgivable error, but it serves to mislead giving the impression that the problem is really one of council empty homes which are being ignored whereas legislation is introduced to tackle the (in their view) smaller problem of privately owned empty homes- giving legitimacy to their argument that EDMOs are unfair.
The point is there is already legislation to deal with empty council (and other publicly owned) homes –PRODs. EDMO balance up the whole picture ensuring there is legislation available to deal with all empty homes where the owner won’t deal with them themselves.
I’ve offered to write a comment piece for the Express to make these points, but as yet I haven’t had a decision. I also sent in a letter for their letters page yesterday, but I see that they have decided to print a letter on the subject from a Mr Cartwright of Essex instead. Mr Cartwright claims the EDMO in Oxfordshire is evidence that we live in police state. If my only information about EDMOs came from the Daily Express I might well conclude the same.