Agenda item

Councillor Call For Action


Councillor Piper, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel advised Members on the framework for discussing the councillor call for action request that had been brought before the Panel by Councillor Whitehead. The Chair indicated that the Panel ought to consider the options in the covering report as they progress the call for action request and further advised the meeting that a wider report on housing delivery in Thanet was going to be considered by Cabinet on 22 September 2022. Councillor Piper said that Members had to be satisfied that all other processes for requesting that action be taken on an issue had been exhausted.


The Chair then invited Members who had requested to speak under Council Procedure Rule 20.1 to speak and the following Members spoke:


Councillor Bailey;

Councillor Garner;

Councillor Smith;

Councillor Yates

Councillor Bob Bayford.


Those Members speaking under Council Procedure Rule 20.1 made the following comments:


  • Members had received a number of calls from residents regarding the pressures families were under regarding the unaffordable rents they were facing;
  • They also cited the lack of social housing in the district and the challenges the council was facing in providing affordable housing to residents;
  • There was some displacement of families due to sharp rise in rentals;
  • The right to buy scheme was also taking away from the social housing market;
  • There was a need to come up with a council wide strategy to deal with these issues;
  • There were a number of Section 21 Notices that residents were getting, leading to displacement of households due to no fault of their own;
  • This had forced some households to be placed in temporary accommodation often outside the district;
  • AirBnB had increased dramatically in Thanet, thereby taking away from the stock for low income households;
  •  Members expressed their support for the councillor call for action.


The Chair invited a member of the public to speak and Ms Sarah Pengelly made the following comments:


  • The Citizens Advisory Bureau was concerned about what was happening to some households affected by the sharp rise in rentals in the district;
  • Tenants need security from astronomical rises in rental costs;
  • The clapping for essential services workers that was done during the pandemic should now be translated into action;
  • The Bureau was ready if asked to write up a case study to share with the council.


Councillor Jill Bayford, Cabinet Member for Housing, advised the meeting that she had written to the government (to the Minister of Housing) asking for action on this matter in February 2022 and got a reply in July 2022. The request to the government was for support for the acquisition of land to develop affordable housing. A housing delivery report was going to cabinet on 22 September and this request for action was therefore not appropriate as it doesn’t acknowledge the work done by the Housing team to date.


Councillor Whitehead then made her submission and said the following points:


  • The request for action was not a reflection on the Housing team but rather about external agencies;
  • Funding for housing development by councils was decreasing continuously and this had affected most local councils;
  • Calling on all external partners to attend a full hearing would help come up with how this issue could be resolved and there was no fault in asking for help;
  • Section 21 evictions were affecting a number of families;
  • In June this year, 187 families were put in temporary accommodation, with 94 of them placed outside Thanet;
  • It was worrying that the council was now used to not getting a response from government and the council needed to do more;
  • The issues being faced by Thanet residents need to be addressed by policy makers and not for the Housing team to cope with the situation.


Bob Porter, Director of Place said that officers worked extremely hard under the circumstances and it was up to the Panel how they would like to progress the Councillor Call for Action request. It was worth noting that a report on Housing delivery in Thanet was going to be discussed by Cabinet on 22 September 2022.


The Chair outlined to the Panel  how the request could be progressed. He said that Cabinet would be considering a report on Housing delivery in the district at the meeting on 22 September 2022 and Members ought to take that into consideration when deciding how to progress with this matter. Councillor Piper thanked Councillor Whitehead for the detailed work she put into coming up with the councillor call for action submission. He also said that in submitting this request there must be a reasonable expectation that the council could come up with a solution.


The Chair acknowledged that Councillor Whitehead had raised this matter with the Housing department, Cabinet and Full Council in an appropriate way and had been responded to correctly. The council could not compel private companies on how they should run their businesses. The Chair further said the Panel existed to improve the decisions and actions taken by the council within the council’s remit. The issue raised by Councillor Whitehead was not new and had not recently arisen. He said that it would be difficult to justify hosting a full hearing when it was extremely unlikely that they would be able to find a solution, when such resources could be used for housing needs. Councillor Piper concluded that the call for action request was not appropriate.


Councillor Piper proposed and Councillor Fellows seconded that the Panel did not discuss the call for action request.


Councillor Huxley proposed and Councillor Wing seconded that the Panel adopts option 4.1 in the covering report which is that “the Panel could opt to debate the call for action request and agree to conduct a full hearing at an agreed future Panel meeting.”


The Panel agreed to take a recorded vote.


Not to Debate the Motion   To Debate the Motion

Councillor Leys    Councillor Huxley

Councillor Boyd    Councillor Pat Moore

Councillor Paul Moore    Councillor Keen

Councillor Wright      Councillor Currie

Councillor Fellows    Councillor Wing

Councillor Tomlinson      Councillor Austin

Councillor Coleman-Cooke

Councillor Piper


The proposal that the councillor call for action request be not debated was AGREED.

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