A petition has been set up to overturn what has been described as a 'shameful' decision to abolish a selective licensing scheme for landlords in Weston town centre.
North Somerset Council had been due to introduce the scheme in November, but it announced last month the scheme would not be going ahead as planned following strong opposition from local buy-to-let landlords.
Over 80 buy-to-let landlords in Weston-super-Mare joined forces over the summer to successfully halt the planned introduction of the selective licensing scheme proposed by the council, after raising more than £12,000 with a view to taking North Somerset Council to court in a bid to overturn a decision to introduce a licensing scheme across parts of the town.
The landlord group, called the Somerset Property Network, strongly opposed the planned new license which would have covered Central ward and part of Hillside, and cost £320 for a five-year license, and felt that a legal challenge was necessary to stop the initiative being introduced.
But North Somerset Council's decision not to proceed with the planned scheme, which would have meant that anyone failing to meet a minimum standard criteria potentially face prosecution, has been met with anger by Weston town centre resident Alan Rice who has launched a rival petition with the help of social change organisation Acorn UK to get the licences introduced as planned.
Rice told the press: "At Banksy's Dismaland I came across Acorn UK, who pressed for selective licensing in Easton in Bristol - resulting in a unanimous decision by Bristol City Council to bring it in.
"I was delighted that North Somerset was to do the same in Weston, but I was livid when in spite of a consultation, with 62% in favour, the council backed down after pressure from the landlords."
However, Rice's actions have been slammed by the Somerset Property Network.
A spokesperson for the group said: "The selective licensing scheme cannot be resurrected as it is perfunctory, the data is stale and the submissions are inconclusive.
"This is why we are now working very closely with landlords, tenants and the council to bring together the national landlords' code of excellence, whereby all landlords, tenants and local authorities benefit from their unification to create a better private rental sector."
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