Birmingham council hits back at Oxford over transfers to city

Lisa-marie Richards, left, with her family, in Littlemore

Lisa-marie Richards, left, with her family, in Littlemore

First published in News
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The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

BIRMINGHAM City Council has said it does not offer the solution to Oxford’s housing problem.

The authority responded after the Oxford Mail revealed that families from the city were being offered homes as far away as Birmingham and Cardiff by the city council.

Single mums were among those told they must move out of the county if they wanted help finding a house.

The city council says they have rehoused five families outside of Oxford, including two in Birmingham.

But Birmingham City Council has said it has its own housing problems to deal with.

A spokesman said: “We will not turn our back on vulnerable people, but the simple message for Oxford or any other council looking to relocate people in Birmingham is this: We’re not the solution to your problem.

“We’re fully aware of the challenges many councils are facing, but they have to understand that demand for housing is also high here in Birmingham and we have our own pressures.

“If other councils are moving people to this city, we at least ask that they act responsibly and keep us informed so that we can put adequate support in place.”

Single mum-of-two Lisa-marie Richards, 32, was among those offered a house in Birmingham, as well as Cheltenham and Cardiff.

She has to find a new house after her private landlord in Bampton Close, Littlemore, decided to sell his house.

She said: “It is like a bit of a battlefield really, and we are the ones who are unarmed.”

Miss Richards said the council offered her an extra £83 a month from Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to help with rent, but landlords were still turning her down in favour of people without children or who are not on benefits.

Oxford City Council’s board member for housing, Scott Seamons, has blamed the cap on housing benefits following Government cuts in the Local Housing Allowance.

But Green Party leader at Oxford City Council, Craig Simmons, said: “There is no way we should be throwing people out of Oxford.

“It is a policy decision of the council and nothing to do with a lack of funds.

“We shouldn’t be misleading people in trying to blame the Government when in this case there is actually money.”

Susan Brown, the city council's executive board member for benefits and customer services, said it was down to cuts made by the government.

Comments (23)

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7:25am Sat 15 Mar 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

It's a ridiculous policy that simply moves the problem to other areas of the country. Councils need to wake up and sort the housing needs of their OWN, local residents and stop putting newly arrived people at the top of the lists.
It's a ridiculous policy that simply moves the problem to other areas of the country. Councils need to wake up and sort the housing needs of their OWN, local residents and stop putting newly arrived people at the top of the lists. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 7

8:47am Sat 15 Mar 14

cowleyman says...

the simple problem is that to many properties are being offered to students!
the simple problem is that to many properties are being offered to students! cowleyman
  • Score: 0

10:24am Sat 15 Mar 14

West Oxon Webwatcher says...

It is not a simple problem. To provide more housing would require more finance and this would raise council spending. The council cannot increase the council tax to pay for what would be an enormous sum to solve the housing problem because it cannot increase the council tax by more than 2% without holding a referendum, itswelf increasing council spending and it is highly likely that council tax payers would refurse to vote for an increase in tax beyond the 2% limit. More central government financial support would be needed and this is not under the council's control.
It is not a simple problem. To provide more housing would require more finance and this would raise council spending. The council cannot increase the council tax to pay for what would be an enormous sum to solve the housing problem because it cannot increase the council tax by more than 2% without holding a referendum, itswelf increasing council spending and it is highly likely that council tax payers would refurse to vote for an increase in tax beyond the 2% limit. More central government financial support would be needed and this is not under the council's control. West Oxon Webwatcher
  • Score: 2

11:11am Sat 15 Mar 14

Green Councillor says...

The Council just gave BACK to Government more than £300,000 of unspent housing grant. The benefit changes are appalling and bringing grief to many. But in this case, the Council had the money to help out these families, but chose not to.
The Council just gave BACK to Government more than £300,000 of unspent housing grant. The benefit changes are appalling and bringing grief to many. But in this case, the Council had the money to help out these families, but chose not to. Green Councillor
  • Score: 0

5:55pm Sat 15 Mar 14

Canismajoris says...

50 years Tax and national insurance from my parents, 20 years tax and insurance from me, 50 years tax and insurance from my grandparents and no chance of social housing for me :>(
50 years Tax and national insurance from my parents, 20 years tax and insurance from me, 50 years tax and insurance from my grandparents and no chance of social housing for me :>( Canismajoris
  • Score: 3

7:10pm Sat 15 Mar 14

boots17 says...

Green Councillor wrote:
The Council just gave BACK to Government more than £300,000 of unspent housing grant. The benefit changes are appalling and bringing grief to many. But in this case, the Council had the money to help out these families, but chose not to.
Good point but in two years time it all stops then what?
Its a admin nightmare for clients and staff and the under spend does not roll over. The underspend is happening nationwide not just at Oxford but including Green Brighton.
[quote][p][bold]Green Councillor[/bold] wrote: The Council just gave BACK to Government more than £300,000 of unspent housing grant. The benefit changes are appalling and bringing grief to many. But in this case, the Council had the money to help out these families, but chose not to.[/p][/quote]Good point but in two years time it all stops then what? Its a admin nightmare for clients and staff and the under spend does not roll over. The underspend is happening nationwide not just at Oxford but including Green Brighton. boots17
  • Score: 1

7:15pm Sat 15 Mar 14

boots17 says...

Green Councillor wrote:
The Council just gave BACK to Government more than £300,000 of unspent housing grant. The benefit changes are appalling and bringing grief to many. But in this case, the Council had the money to help out these families, but chose not to.
Green Brighton has just underspent its discretionairy Housing benefit grant for same reasons as Oxford.
It's an admin nightmare for client and staff as you have to keep re applying every 3 months and it stops in two years. Then what ?
[quote][p][bold]Green Councillor[/bold] wrote: The Council just gave BACK to Government more than £300,000 of unspent housing grant. The benefit changes are appalling and bringing grief to many. But in this case, the Council had the money to help out these families, but chose not to.[/p][/quote]Green Brighton has just underspent its discretionairy Housing benefit grant for same reasons as Oxford. It's an admin nightmare for client and staff as you have to keep re applying every 3 months and it stops in two years. Then what ? boots17
  • Score: 3

6:07pm Sun 16 Mar 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

Isn't it looking a gift horse in the mouth to scorn the offer of a free home? It would be different if someone is working and unable to live near enough their work to travel to it.
Isn't it looking a gift horse in the mouth to scorn the offer of a free home? It would be different if someone is working and unable to live near enough their work to travel to it. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 5

10:25pm Sun 16 Mar 14

snowyowl43 says...

It is not a gift to be taken from the roots of your family that have lived in Oxford for generations, four generations still alive and kicking in the city. Why should it be that private landlords get planning permission for multi tenancy dwellings that were always social housing until Maggie Thatcher allowed them to be sold off and froze the profits, Next step I wonder, will you be deporting the private renters to europe so as you can keep the hard working immigrants here? Or take a less holier than thee attitude and realise that not all on benefits are there out of choice.
It is not a gift to be taken from the roots of your family that have lived in Oxford for generations, four generations still alive and kicking in the city. Why should it be that private landlords get planning permission for multi tenancy dwellings that were always social housing until Maggie Thatcher allowed them to be sold off and froze the profits, Next step I wonder, will you be deporting the private renters to europe so as you can keep the hard working immigrants here? Or take a less holier than thee attitude and realise that not all on benefits are there out of choice. snowyowl43
  • Score: 0

7:22am Mon 17 Mar 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

snowyowl43 wrote:
It is not a gift to be taken from the roots of your family that have lived in Oxford for generations, four generations still alive and kicking in the city. Why should it be that private landlords get planning permission for multi tenancy dwellings that were always social housing until Maggie Thatcher allowed them to be sold off and froze the profits, Next step I wonder, will you be deporting the private renters to europe so as you can keep the hard working immigrants here? Or take a less holier than thee attitude and realise that not all on benefits are there out of choice.
At a time when public services, e.g flood defences, road mending, have practically ceased, spending sums of money on purely personal services for those who feel an "entitlement" to live in a particular place is wholly indefensible actually.
I moved a number of times as I changed jobs. It's called life and it trumps entitlement.
[quote][p][bold]snowyowl43[/bold] wrote: It is not a gift to be taken from the roots of your family that have lived in Oxford for generations, four generations still alive and kicking in the city. Why should it be that private landlords get planning permission for multi tenancy dwellings that were always social housing until Maggie Thatcher allowed them to be sold off and froze the profits, Next step I wonder, will you be deporting the private renters to europe so as you can keep the hard working immigrants here? Or take a less holier than thee attitude and realise that not all on benefits are there out of choice.[/p][/quote]At a time when public services, e.g flood defences, road mending, have practically ceased, spending sums of money on purely personal services for those who feel an "entitlement" to live in a particular place is wholly indefensible actually. I moved a number of times as I changed jobs. It's called life and it trumps entitlement. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 7

12:50pm Mon 17 Mar 14

snowyowl43 says...

As you say you changed jobs luckily you were able to work and had a choice as was I, when Mr Tebbit told us to get on our bikes When the mortgage rate shot to 16% and I thank my lucky stars I was able to. I was also lucky enough to find work, But I was not alone with small children, I was in good health as obviously you were, I am talking through experience. Flood defence, road works, come before a home ? Its not a mansion the private renters need just a roof and a fair rent not all are on benefits, If you live in or around Oxford and you take a look at the rental market prices you will see that ex council houses let in multi occupancy are fetching in excess of £3000 per month for one with six rentable rooms. It is not the private renters who are at fault its the system and to move people with children to an alien environment away from their school and close family is criminal, and even criminals in prison have the right to be moved nearer to their families
As you say you changed jobs luckily you were able to work and had a choice as was I, when Mr Tebbit told us to get on our bikes When the mortgage rate shot to 16% and I thank my lucky stars I was able to. I was also lucky enough to find work, But I was not alone with small children, I was in good health as obviously you were, I am talking through experience. Flood defence, road works, come before a home ? Its not a mansion the private renters need just a roof and a fair rent not all are on benefits, If you live in or around Oxford and you take a look at the rental market prices you will see that ex council houses let in multi occupancy are fetching in excess of £3000 per month for one with six rentable rooms. It is not the private renters who are at fault its the system and to move people with children to an alien environment away from their school and close family is criminal, and even criminals in prison have the right to be moved nearer to their families snowyowl43
  • Score: -3

1:15pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

Realistically it's not possible to live in Oxford unless you've a decent job. If all employers, the Armed Forces, academic institutions, are "criminals" for expecting people to move when the need arises there are a lot of criminals around. Your ideal would presumably be that islands in Bantry Bay would still be occupied by families living on potatoes and dying if the crop failed: that colliers would have starved after the Somerset coalfield worked out rather than moving to the Rhondda
I think most taxpayers would see little wrong with a responsible council offering transfers to East Ayrshire, Falkirk or Blaenau Gwent where less tax pounds will buy more accommodation. But in any event no one "moves people with children to an alien environment ". The State can ruin us with taxation but it still hasn't Stalin's power to "re-locate" us like the Chechens. One hopes it never will.
Realistically it's not possible to live in Oxford unless you've a decent job. If all employers, the Armed Forces, academic institutions, are "criminals" for expecting people to move when the need arises there are a lot of criminals around. Your ideal would presumably be that islands in Bantry Bay would still be occupied by families living on potatoes and dying if the crop failed: that colliers would have starved after the Somerset coalfield worked out rather than moving to the Rhondda I think most taxpayers would see little wrong with a responsible council offering transfers to East Ayrshire, Falkirk or Blaenau Gwent where less tax pounds will buy more accommodation. But in any event no one "moves people with children to an alien environment ". The State can ruin us with taxation but it still hasn't Stalin's power to "re-locate" us like the Chechens. One hopes it never will. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 4

2:03pm Mon 17 Mar 14

snowyowl43 says...

When you join the forces it is a career choice and that is a life choice you make. Join the forces and see the world was a good recruitment slogan that was well used. and a fair wage went with it . What the heck has that got to do with the ramshackle house rental market or criminals., When people moved to the Rhondda those that wanted to moved there, Stop twisting words and stick to the point. Tax is what makes the country tick and if you earn it pay it. Relocate like the Chechens? what would you call the present housing relocation system? It is about time this government put a ceiling on rents and got shot of the money making landlords If the government built affordable housing they could recoup it through and finish a lot of housing benefits What happened to Rackman? must have a look through the archives to swat up. oh and the potatoes they could have gone fishing in Bantry Bay they still had choice.
When you join the forces it is a career choice and that is a life choice you make. Join the forces and see the world was a good recruitment slogan that was well used. and a fair wage went with it . What the heck has that got to do with the ramshackle house rental market or criminals., When people moved to the Rhondda those that wanted to moved there, Stop twisting words and stick to the point. Tax is what makes the country tick and if you earn it pay it. Relocate like the Chechens? what would you call the present housing relocation system? It is about time this government put a ceiling on rents and got shot of the money making landlords If the government built affordable housing they could recoup it through and finish a lot of housing benefits What happened to Rackman? must have a look through the archives to swat up. oh and the potatoes they could have gone fishing in Bantry Bay they still had choice. snowyowl43
  • Score: 1

2:17pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

Before your time I'd warrant but the State DID put a ceiling on rents. They were called "Controlled Rents" Look them up; ask an older friend. They were an unmitigated disaster, as were their successors, the Rent Acts. Even the last socialist government killed off the last vestige of the Rent Acts by deeming any tenancy to be a shorthold unless the parties declared their contrary intention. Sadly, all housing is "affordable". You may have noticed estate agents? You might like to see rid of them but you won't-unless property became "unaffordable" Your man Liam Byrne stated in the most pithy way why the State isn't building houses, much. I'm sure you'll recall the note he left in the Treasury.
I'm glad we don't live in a country where don't work = don't eat and I'd hate it equally if we lived in a country where "I've lived in Muddy Bottom all my life and that means the taxpayer must pay for me to continue to live in Muddy Bottom" was the law. People whose rent is paid by others are very lucky people indeed. Don't you ever believe anything else.
Before your time I'd warrant but the State DID put a ceiling on rents. They were called "Controlled Rents" Look them up; ask an older friend. They were an unmitigated disaster, as were their successors, the Rent Acts. Even the last socialist government killed off the last vestige of the Rent Acts by deeming any tenancy to be a shorthold unless the parties declared their contrary intention. Sadly, all housing is "affordable". You may have noticed estate agents? You might like to see rid of them but you won't-unless property became "unaffordable" Your man Liam Byrne stated in the most pithy way why the State isn't building houses, much. I'm sure you'll recall the note he left in the Treasury. I'm glad we don't live in a country where don't work = don't eat and I'd hate it equally if we lived in a country where "I've lived in Muddy Bottom all my life and that means the taxpayer must pay for me to continue to live in Muddy Bottom" was the law. People whose rent is paid by others are very lucky people indeed. Don't you ever believe anything else. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 4

2:58pm Mon 17 Mar 14

snowyowl43 says...

I don't know anyone older than my good self to talk to unless you are. When
a person is in full time employment and cannot get a shoe box sized two bed home without having to claim housing benefits there is something wrong.Not all people are on high wages, thank god! otherwise our streets would be dirtier than they are, hospitals would be deemed unfit, the list as you know is endless.
and these are low paid workers not shirkers. I have noticed estate agents and have also scoured the pages of rentals and the prices in and around Oxford are extortionate, By the way I am retired and have been for way over a decade and I have never had a muddy bottom but I do have a knowledge of people from all walks of life and empathy for those in need.
I don't know anyone older than my good self to talk to unless you are. When a person is in full time employment and cannot get a shoe box sized two bed home without having to claim housing benefits there is something wrong.Not all people are on high wages, thank god! otherwise our streets would be dirtier than they are, hospitals would be deemed unfit, the list as you know is endless. and these are low paid workers not shirkers. I have noticed estate agents and have also scoured the pages of rentals and the prices in and around Oxford are extortionate, By the way I am retired and have been for way over a decade and I have never had a muddy bottom but I do have a knowledge of people from all walks of life and empathy for those in need. snowyowl43
  • Score: 1

4:46pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

Well since you're retired you'll be 75 and will remember Controlled Rents, outdoor lavatories, gas lighting and all. I suppose that if, as you say, rents in the area are very high it is because (a) our country is overcrowded (b) indiscriminate payment of welfare has inflated them (we'd not have claimants in our rentals but many are less concerned) or (c) not enough houses are being built.
But then if enough were being built we'd not be able to grow any food.
It's an intractable problem, we can both agree, but still no solution to say that welfare recipients have a "right" to occupation of a particular location.
Well since you're retired you'll be 75 and will remember Controlled Rents, outdoor lavatories, gas lighting and all. I suppose that if, as you say, rents in the area are very high it is because (a) our country is overcrowded (b) indiscriminate payment of welfare has inflated them (we'd not have claimants in our rentals but many are less concerned) or (c) not enough houses are being built. But then if enough were being built we'd not be able to grow any food. It's an intractable problem, we can both agree, but still no solution to say that welfare recipients have a "right" to occupation of a particular location. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 3

6:03pm Mon 17 Mar 14

snowyowl43 says...

No I don't agree mismanagement bigoted rules and regulations and closed minds caused social housing to fail. I do agree to disagree with you and let me guess you must be in the same age group as myself, and so you must remember social housing worked fine till it was sold off and money for sales not released to replenish stock. Next step 5% deposit but only if you earn enough to pay the excessive balance lets sit back and wait for the snatch backs to occur, the mortgage rate can only go up it has been to low for to long
I hope the young get a home just hang on in there save what you can cheap repos are on there way beat the private landlords. No more to be said, End of
No I don't agree mismanagement bigoted rules and regulations and closed minds caused social housing to fail. I do agree to disagree with you and let me guess you must be in the same age group as myself, and so you must remember social housing worked fine till it was sold off and money for sales not released to replenish stock. Next step 5% deposit but only if you earn enough to pay the excessive balance lets sit back and wait for the snatch backs to occur, the mortgage rate can only go up it has been to low for to long I hope the young get a home just hang on in there save what you can cheap repos are on there way beat the private landlords. No more to be said, End of snowyowl43
  • Score: 4

2:10pm Wed 19 Mar 14

alu355 says...

Natural selection, people will get gradually moved until all the non working/low income end up in Bradford.
Natural selection, people will get gradually moved until all the non working/low income end up in Bradford. alu355
  • Score: 1

2:26pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

snowyowl43 wrote:
No I don't agree mismanagement bigoted rules and regulations and closed minds caused social housing to fail. I do agree to disagree with you and let me guess you must be in the same age group as myself, and so you must remember social housing worked fine till it was sold off and money for sales not released to replenish stock. Next step 5% deposit but only if you earn enough to pay the excessive balance lets sit back and wait for the snatch backs to occur, the mortgage rate can only go up it has been to low for to long
I hope the young get a home just hang on in there save what you can cheap repos are on there way beat the private landlords. No more to be said, End of
Yep, I remember Walton Place in Weston Turville becoming a much nicer place, as former tenants and now home owners started to love their properties. I remember my work colleague Frank telling me of the transformation of his dad when Luton Corporation let his dad buy their home-no more betting shops and boozers, in with the paintbrush and DIY. I regret very much that so few have had the urge to buy in Barton, BBL and Wood Farm and, by golly, doesn't it show. I don't even figure the expression "social housing "Am I and my children "unsocial" or "anti-social" because I and they have worked hard to buy our own homes?
[quote][p][bold]snowyowl43[/bold] wrote: No I don't agree mismanagement bigoted rules and regulations and closed minds caused social housing to fail. I do agree to disagree with you and let me guess you must be in the same age group as myself, and so you must remember social housing worked fine till it was sold off and money for sales not released to replenish stock. Next step 5% deposit but only if you earn enough to pay the excessive balance lets sit back and wait for the snatch backs to occur, the mortgage rate can only go up it has been to low for to long I hope the young get a home just hang on in there save what you can cheap repos are on there way beat the private landlords. No more to be said, End of[/p][/quote]Yep, I remember Walton Place in Weston Turville becoming a much nicer place, as former tenants and now home owners started to love their properties. I remember my work colleague Frank telling me of the transformation of his dad when Luton Corporation let his dad buy their home-no more betting shops and boozers, in with the paintbrush and DIY. I regret very much that so few have had the urge to buy in Barton, BBL and Wood Farm and, by golly, doesn't it show. I don't even figure the expression "social housing "Am I and my children "unsocial" or "anti-social" because I and they have worked hard to buy our own homes? Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 2

2:33pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

alu355 wrote:
Natural selection, people will get gradually moved until all the non working/low income end up in Bradford.
Think further North. Bradford is ,er, reserved for a certain group. Can't say more or I'll be doing a "hate crime" Actually though Bradford has a lot of quality employers such as Santander (no I don't love banks, but they do pay well) and I'm thinking there's every reason for workers to be there. But, as I've said above, to attribute to our bureaucrats the ability to "move" anyone-other than to the loo-puts them on a par with Stalin , as Crimea, and next the Baltic states will sadly prove, and our town hall clerks ain't Stalin much as they'd like to be.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: Natural selection, people will get gradually moved until all the non working/low income end up in Bradford.[/p][/quote]Think further North. Bradford is ,er, reserved for a certain group. Can't say more or I'll be doing a "hate crime" Actually though Bradford has a lot of quality employers such as Santander (no I don't love banks, but they do pay well) and I'm thinking there's every reason for workers to be there. But, as I've said above, to attribute to our bureaucrats the ability to "move" anyone-other than to the loo-puts them on a par with Stalin , as Crimea, and next the Baltic states will sadly prove, and our town hall clerks ain't Stalin much as they'd like to be. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 0

11:22am Thu 20 Mar 14

locodogz says...

snowyowl43 wrote:
As you say you changed jobs luckily you were able to work and had a choice as was I, when Mr Tebbit told us to get on our bikes When the mortgage rate shot to 16% and I thank my lucky stars I was able to. I was also lucky enough to find work, But I was not alone with small children, I was in good health as obviously you were, I am talking through experience. Flood defence, road works, come before a home ? Its not a mansion the private renters need just a roof and a fair rent not all are on benefits, If you live in or around Oxford and you take a look at the rental market prices you will see that ex council houses let in multi occupancy are fetching in excess of £3000 per month for one with six rentable rooms. It is not the private renters who are at fault its the system and to move people with children to an alien environment away from their school and close family is criminal, and even criminals in prison have the right to be moved nearer to their families
I'm not a huge fan of Birmingham but "alien environment"......? Come on.....
[quote][p][bold]snowyowl43[/bold] wrote: As you say you changed jobs luckily you were able to work and had a choice as was I, when Mr Tebbit told us to get on our bikes When the mortgage rate shot to 16% and I thank my lucky stars I was able to. I was also lucky enough to find work, But I was not alone with small children, I was in good health as obviously you were, I am talking through experience. Flood defence, road works, come before a home ? Its not a mansion the private renters need just a roof and a fair rent not all are on benefits, If you live in or around Oxford and you take a look at the rental market prices you will see that ex council houses let in multi occupancy are fetching in excess of £3000 per month for one with six rentable rooms. It is not the private renters who are at fault its the system and to move people with children to an alien environment away from their school and close family is criminal, and even criminals in prison have the right to be moved nearer to their families[/p][/quote]I'm not a huge fan of Birmingham but "alien environment"......? Come on..... locodogz
  • Score: 1

4:31pm Thu 20 Mar 14

snowyowl43 says...

For a single mother with young children, who has never been there before. with no family or friends? what would you call it from their position.
For a single mother with young children, who has never been there before. with no family or friends? what would you call it from their position. snowyowl43
  • Score: 0

12:48pm Fri 21 Mar 14

locodogz says...

snowyowl43 wrote:
For a single mother with young children, who has never been there before. with no family or friends? what would you call it from their position.
Dunno? A move to a new town maybe? I believe the speak the same language and drive on the left.........?
[quote][p][bold]snowyowl43[/bold] wrote: For a single mother with young children, who has never been there before. with no family or friends? what would you call it from their position.[/p][/quote]Dunno? A move to a new town maybe? I believe the speak the same language and drive on the left.........? locodogz
  • Score: 0

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