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Contact: Charles Hungwe
Link: Recording of the meeting
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillor Coleman-Cooke,
substituted by Councillor David Saunders.
Declaration of Interests PDF 87 KB
To receive any declarations of
interest. Members are advised to consider the advice contained
within the Declaration of Interest advice attached to this Agenda.
If a Member declares an interest, they should complete the
Declaration of Interest
There were no declarations of interest made at the
Minutes of Previous Meeting PDF 82 KB
To approve the Minutes of the
Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 21 July 2020, copy
Councillor Campbell proposed, Councillor Paul Moore
seconded and Members agreed the minutes as a correct record of the
Panel meeting held on 21 July 2020.
Draft Empty Homes Plan 2020-23 PDF 103 KB
Whitehead, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and
Community Services introduced the report and made the following
Housing is the foundation for the council’s
duties and services. The necessity of housing feeds into many
Tackling empty properties is an important part of
the strategy for providing housing to the local
Empty properties attract anti social behaviour and
other criminal activities to an area, like squatting, graffiti,
arson and fly tipping;
The value of neighbouring properties is also
negatively affected by creating an impression of neglect and
decline of that area;
Such resources are a waste in times of great housing
It is therefore against this background that the
current work of the Empty Properties Team should be
There were a significant number of empty homes in
Thanet. One hundred and fifty nine long term empty homes had been
brought back into use through council intervention in the 2019/20
The draft Empty Homes Plan was intended to address
the issue of long term empty homes and provide a strategy for
bringing empty homes into use.
questions and made comments as follows:
Why was Medway only included in one table (long term
empty homes in Kent) and not in the other table on empty homes
brought back into use?
Was there a difference between empty properties
brought back into use and empty properties?
Wasn’t the demolition of the listed building a
Did the TDC database include empty shops and empty
flats that were located above shops? If they were not, could these
be included in the database?
Could brownfields sites in the three town centres be
included? For example, in East Cliff Ward, there were five empty
brownfields sites that have been in that state for the last 30
years or so;
Had officers approached other councils to learn and
adopt best practices of bringing empty homes/properties into
Why was there a slow turn around in interest free
loans and was the 5 year stay in the property being
Could the council conduct a publicity drive to
encourage residents to identify any empty properties in the
Ramsgate Town Council has a community magazine that
goes out monthly to about 18,000 residents. TDC could use that
magazine to publish the activities of the Housing team regarding
empty homes brought back into use and ask residents to report any
empty properties in Ramsgate;
Credit should be given to the Housing team for their
work on the empty homes programme;
Owner/Occupier loans – was there a waiting
list for this?
Were the targets in the Plan realistic? How did we
arrive at such targets?
A contrary view was that since the council would be
charging 400% council tax for empty properties, would the council
want to bring them into use or make more money from the tax
Currently there were only two officers. Could a case
be made for an extra officer to be appointed to the ...
view the full minutes text for item 252.
Tenant and Leaseholder Service Transition Update PDF 115 KB
led the discussion with the following opening remarks:
This was one of the council’s important tasks
currently and it was being ably managed by the Housing Department,
working together with East Kent Housing (EKH);
The key report updates included:
How the council was ensuring that there
was adequate staffing for the housing service, once it is in-house
from 01 October 2020;
The induction of staff during the
Informing and involving tenants during
On going work by ICT to separate the
housing management systems amongst the four councils and supporting
the staff to train for the new systems;
The work being done by the Communications
team to keep staff and customers informed about the
The winding up of EKH.
How the council manages the transition and keeping
all stakeholders informed was important for the success of the
The basis for continued success of an in-house
system would be providing a secure base, competent and coherent
systems to manage ongoing responsibilities;
The ongoing work by Housing has been
The council was laying a new foundation for a
continued relationship with tenants and leaseholders;
As the landlord, the council was also laying the
groundwork for competent monitoring of housing services going
questions and made comments as follows:
This was a very positive report;
What if things do not go according to
Did EKH have any worries that the
deadline would not be met for the move over of services from EKH to
Was TDC going to get the number of staff that it
Were the transition costs still expected to stay
within the agreed £250,000 budget?
What method had been used to engage tenants and
leaseholders? What had been the feedback? Have they expressed any
Was there a process for monitoring the transition of
the service on the ongoing service provided by in-housing
What was the difference between the services TDC was
offering to the one offered by EKH?
One of the main objectives of the setting up EKH was
making savings? Would this still be the case once the service was
Councillor Whitehead and Ms Sally O’Sullivan, Tenant and
Leaseholder Services Manager said the following:
The portfolio holder had some concerns about how the
service would wind down, how tenants and leaseholders feel listened
to and have works attended to during the transition period. Council
officers are meeting with resident representatives every three
weeks to discuss progress on the transition;
The council was doing everything possible to make
the transition as smooth as is possible;
The Council is trying to mitigate risk during this
transition period. This included tackling the issue of inadequate
office accommodation for staff at TDC main offices. The Covid-19
regulations that require social distancing and other risk
management measures in office settings have made this more
There were limited number of staff allowed in the
offices at any one time and this ...
view the full minutes text for item 253.
Review the Overview and Scrutiny Panel Work Programme for 2020/21 PDF 115 KB
The Chairman advised Members that the membership for the
Memorials Working Party had been confirmed. The group is expected
to meet in September. As part of their work, the working party
could include a member of the public as a co-optee on its membership and could take witness
statements as part of its work.
One Member indicated that a topic on Your Leisure was
missing from the list of proposed scrutiny topics. The Chairman
advised that the issue ought to have a main question that needed to
be addressed and requested that the Member forwards the specific
question the review would addressing.
Nick Hughes advised members that the implementation period
for these reviews would cut across a number of municipal years, if
the Panel still felt the need to review these identified
The Panel agreed the results of the scoring matrix for the
proposed scrutiny review projects and noted the report.
Forward Plan & Exempt Cabinet Report List PDF 78 KB
Members noted the report.