RESIDENTS in a part of Bournemouth with one of the highest levels of private rented housing have voiced their concerns about the ongoing impact it is having on crime levels in the area.

According to the council, 47.5 per cent of the total housing stock in the East Cliff and Springbourne ward is private rented accommodation, compared to the Bournemouth average of 31 per cent.

In November 2017, the council’s cabinet decided not to go ahead with plans for selective licensing, which aimed to tackle the poor quality of some privately rented homes, and the anti-social behaviour and crime linked to some of these properties.

The scheme was strongly supported by residents but met with opposition from landlords.

Instead, Operation Galaxy, which was already in force in Boscombe, was rolled out across the borough to enable enforcement action to be taken against landlords to ensure they meet regulations.

However, at a recent meeting of the East Cliff and Springbourne Residents’ Group, concerns were raised about the issues caused by some properties in the area occupied by vulnerable tenants.

A Springbourne resident of 30 years asked a council representative at the meeting: “Why do we have so many vulnerable people in this area?”

“A few years ago the council focussed on ‘cleaning up’ housing in Boscombe. We all said the issues in Boscombe were going to come over the bridge to Springbourne, which is exactly what’s happened,” he said.

Ward councillor David Kelsey said that all houses of multiple occupation (HMO), which have previously caused issues in areas, now have to be licensed.

“In Springbourne we’ve had very few new planning applications in the last three years. There isn’t any room,” he added.

“If a new place for vulnerable people is going to be put into a highly residential area [the planning board] can still say no to it. But what we need is for local people to read the notices and send objections.

“However, you can only object on planning grounds, and that’s where it’s difficult for us. None of us might like to have one of these types of properties near to us, but because we don’t want them doesn’t mean they can’t go there. “We have to house these people. We as a council have a duty of care to look after them.”

Kelly Ansell, head of communities, enforcement and regulatory services, was not present at the meeting.

However, in a comment to the Echo she said: “The area experiences ongoing issues relating to housing standards, anti-social behaviour and crime, which is why the council implemented a Targeted Enforcement service in October of last year.

“Working in partnership with the police and other agencies, this service aims to reduce the impact of problematic properties by taking a proactive and evidence-led approach. The service covers an immediate priority area of Boscombe wards as well as East Cliff and Springbourne. Given the issues being reported by residents, our first priority has been to focus on this area.”

Fellow ward councillor Anne Filer has encouraged residents with housing issues to get in touch with her via phone or email.

"If something can be done, it will be done," she said.

She added: “Knyveton Gardens was a no-go area for a long time, and the residents got together with the councillors and officers and police, and that area is really thriving now.

“The people who live in Lowther Gardens also got in touch with the council and said the situation is impossible. People were dealing behind an electric sub-station. We went down and did an enviroclean. It’s not perfect there now but there’s a line of communication and it’s a darn sight better."