THREE members of Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet had to leave the room, and were not allowed to discuss or vote on a new policy to be brought in on private landlords.

Because Mary Martin, Gary Sumner and Keith Williams are themselves private landlords they were told by legal officers to absent themselves from the discussion under rules about conflicts of interest.

It led leader of the council David Renard to muse what would happen if all the members, or enough that there weren’t enough left to make the cabinet’s decisions legal, had to leave.

The remaining six members of the cabinet present agreed the policy brought by the member for housing and public safety Cathy Martyn.

She said: “We are committed to improving standards in private sector housing, Making sure all private rented accommodation is well-managed, properly maintained, safe and habitable.

“We will take targeted and proportionate action to make sure tenants live in homes that are free from unacceptable risks to their health and safety.”

One measure will be to identify houses under multiple occupation where the landlord has not registered as an HMO and another will be to encourage use of empty properties.