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Powys County Council reaches dizzy new heights

11 March 2014

This must count as the most bizarre government decision in a long time. But from 31 March, Powys County Council will take over the Office for Fair Trading’s role as the lead enforcement body for all UK estate agents.

When I was first told this, I assumed it was a joke. Powys County Council might have many strengths but one struggles to see how they are qualified to be the lead enforcement agency for estate agents in London or Birmingham or, frankly, anywhere other than Powys.

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But when you check Hansard, it is confirmed by the relevant minister the Lib Dem Jenny Willott:

‘The Office of Fair Trading has a duty to supervise the working and enforcement of the Estate Agents Act 1979. The OFT may take action against those who do not comply, including by banning estate agents where necessary. From 31 March, the role will transfer to a lead enforcement authority—as we all know, Powys county council—which will enforce the measures throughout the UK.’

So, if you have a complaint about your estate agent and regardless of where you live in the UK, you’ll have to take it up with Powys County Council.

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  • Thomas & Rose

    Rather strange move; but one that could be fine if Powys CC set up a dedicated unit similar to OFT’s previous one. It is obviously being centrally funded. Doesn’t seem to fall into Wales’ continued move to devolution though; maybe Wales is going to be the new London? Anti-Money laundering registrations are also changing for estate agencies and will now be monitored by HMRC.

  • Gwangi

    Powys is a seriously beautiful area, with the Brecon Beacons and stunning countryside.
    In fact, in must be one of the least densely populated and ‘house-less’ areas of the UK. Perhaps this fact is behind the governments brilliantly ironic decision to hand over all estate agent complaints to a place where the number of houses you can see rarely exceed the fingers on one hand?
    What’s next I wonder? Handing over regulation of the countryside to Lambeth council? Handing over control of animal welfare and pig farming to the Muslim council? Putting child welfare services in the remit of the G Glitter fanclub?
    At times like this I begin to understand revolutions against the state. Does ANYONE know what the F they’re doing?

    • Darnell Jackson

      I really don’t understand why this post has no recommends.

      Have one from me.

      • Gwangi

        Ta very much, mate!

  • Moo

    Powys is among the most dysfunctional authorities in the UK: it is run by three or four competing groups of independents, whose members shift according to personal whim, presumed slight, or degree of indignation – hence unstable leadership and regular changes at the top. See Mid Wales Journal’s website for much much more. The Welsh Assembly Government is contemplating taking over, so deeply useless is Powys CC. And they are currently in financial crisis. So estate agents are going to get off very lightly here…

  • Fishy Fred

    Promotion in the offing for the boyos – I can see a local Council Minister with portfolio for estate agents with a nice little price tag and trimmings and attendant acolytes being vigorously fought over any day now. Council tax increases al round in Wales

  • justejudexultionis

    I think the entire United States nuclear defence system should be placed under the control of Leicester County Council Department of Social Services – immediately.

  • DavidL

    1 April a bit early this year?

  • PT

    The Tories have setting out a few pledges to control estate agents lately, with one Tory MP demanding controls the recent phenomenon of buyer fees

    But unscrupulous letting agents on the other hand – a sector has no regulation WHATSOEVER – the Tories are on record as stating the ‘free’ market is good enough to keep them under control.

    Private renters seem to nothing better than vermin to the Tories

    • James Strong

      The free market works.
      The only way a provider can succeed in a free market is by providing something that others are willing to pay for.
      I’m a landlord and I offer quality properties. I do that partly because I think it’s the right thing to do but mostly because, in my judgement I make more money that way.
      If you want regulation then I think it’s for you to make the case. And accusing Tories of viewing private renters as vermin doesn’t do that.
      What I would do is eliminate housing benefit, perhaps not in one step; it keeps rents high.

  • JPE

    The back story to this is even more surreal. The reason that Powys will be lead enforcement authority for estate agents is that from the 1 April the Office of Fair Trading (who looked after this function) is no more. From 1 April we have the Competition and Markets Authority which merges the OFT and the Competitions Commission but with some of the old OFT functions offloaded to other bodies (some via a tendering process). One example is Powys and another is your local (underfunded) trading standards services will be given the role of enforcing consumer credit law.

    • JPE

      Looking at the proposal submitted by Powys they plan to do this on a shoestring. One Manager, two investigators and one admin. I can see rogue estate agents quivering in their boots

  • Stuart Crow

    We all know that Welsh local politics are a murky business, even by the shady standards of the Lib Dems. This is a thoroughly bizarre way to go about dismantling the red-tape state.

    • James Strong

      And in the more industrial valleys it was pretty murky under Labour too.
      I wonder what it’s like in the stockbroker belt with conservative councils.
      I would bet that there is an element of self-serving and help for friends and contacts there too.
      In my experience there are decent people as ordinary members in all the major parties. But people who aspire to and achieve office are often tempted by the idea of some sort of privilege and power.
      It needn’t be a great deal of privilege, just a little bit more than the ordinary voters within the politician’s nearby world.
      Don’t be tempted to admire or respect anybody who seeks office unless and until they demonstrate their individual integrity.

  • Colonel Mustard

    The question that should be being asked is why a County Council, a purveyor of services to the public, public servants (remember those?), has been transformed into what is described as a “lead enforcement authority”?

    All this “leading” from taxpayer funded public servants has the whiff of a common purpose about it. They are there to serve not lead.

  • Tom W Huxley

    Classic Lib Dem interpretation of localism.

  • HY

    Jobs for the Boyos?

    • Darnell Jackson

      Very good

      I wonder who leeked the story?

  • Andy


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