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 Bob Bayford.
Those Members speaking under Council Procedure Rule 20.1 made the following comments:
The Chair invited a member of the public to speak and Ms Sarah Pengelly made the following comments:
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:
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
The proposal that the councillor call for action request be not debated was AGREED.