Protecting the rights of property owners – sometimes

Eric Pickles made a very big fuss announcing more protections for the rights of property owners – limiting councils’ ability to bring privately owned empty homes back into use:

“The Coalition Government is standing up for the civil liberties of law-abiding citizens. Fundamental human rights include the right to property.”

Quite.

It’s just as well that his Localism Bill doesn’t provide any Tom, Dick or Harry the right to interfere with your private property rights. 

Erm, but doesn’t that very piece of ground breaking legislation provide for a ‘Community Right to Buy’?

This would give local people the legal right to nominate any community asset onto a council’s ‘most wanted’ list. An asset on this list, in the case of its closure, could not be sold until after a ‘community countdown’, in which the community gets time to prepare its own bid to buy it.

So if you want to flog your shop, pub, small business etc, you might find your neighbours ganging up to stop you doing so – for a little while anyway.  

Now, I don’t think a community right to buy is a bad idea. I’m not sure it’ll ever work, but never mind. However, it is entirely at odds with the ‘fundamental rights’ you have to do as you wish with your property.

Both, on their own, are good populist measures in their own terms, so why pause for the sake of consistency?

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