Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Hybrid Meeting

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No. Item


Declarations of Interest (including Whipping Declarations)

To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.

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Councillor Ted Palmer declared a personal interest as a Council tenant.


Councillor Ted Palmer declared a personal interest as a Council tenant.


Consideration of a matter referred to the Committee pursuant to the Call In arrangements pdf icon PDF 98 KB

A decision of the Cabinet meeting on 20 June 2023 relating to ‘Communal Heating Charges 2023/24’ has been called in.  Attached is a copy of the procedure for dealing with a called in item.

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The Overview & Scrutiny Facilitator advised that the Cabinet had considered a report on ‘Communal Heating Charges 2023/24’ at a meeting held on 20 June, 2023.  The decision (Record of Decision 4106) had been called in by Councillors: Bernie Attridge, Bill Crease, Allan Marshall, Dale Selvester and Linda Thew.  Copies of the Cabinet report, Record of Decision and Endorsement of Call in, which identified the reason for the call in, were included in the agenda pack.


The Facilitator explained the procedure for the call in of a Cabinet decision as detailed in the supporting document which was included in the agenda.


The Chair invited the signatories to present the reasons for the call-in to the Committee.


Communal Heating Charges 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Report of Chief Officer (Housing & Communities) – Cabinet Member for Housing & Regeneration.


To assist Members, the following documents are attached:-


·         Copy of the report – Communal Heating Charges 2023/24

·         Copy of the Record of Decision

·         Copy of the Call In Notice

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That, having considered the decision, the explanation be accepted but not endorsed by the Committee.


Representations from call in signatories 


Councillor Bernie Attridge thanked the Committee for considering the call in notice and commented on the discussion previously held by the Committee around communal heating charges prior to Cabinet approval.  He reminded Members that the Committee at its meeting in June 2023 had requested that Cabinet consider spreading the proposed increases over a longer period of time to lessen the financial impact on Council tenants.  He said that he had attended the Cabinet meeting and reported that nothing had changed since Scrutiny had considered the report and questioned whether an options appraisal had been carried out to consider spreading the costs over up to 3 years as this information had not been included in the report.  He reminded Members of the previous decision taken from tenants to remain with the Council which was the biggest vote of confidence of the service provided by the Council at that time.  He said that the increase in communal heating charges was a political decision and whilst advice from officers could be received, unless a decision being taken by Members was unlawful, Members did not have to accept the advice from officers.


Councillor Attridge commented on the level of rent being lost due to the number of void properties and raised concern around the financial impact the increase in communal heating charges would have on tenants whilst the Council continued to lose money due to void properties.  He raised concerns around the use of communal areas and that tenants would have to pay for heating charges when they were not using the space, or the space was being used by groups not living in the properties.  He comments on the current cost of living crisis and that some tenants were having to chose to heat their homes or eat and for this reason, he asked Cabinet to re-consider the increase in communal heating charges.  


Councillor Bill Crease commented on his own heating costs in relation to the proposed increases to tenants and said that he was concerned when viewing the report to see that some of the increases showed an increase from £486 to £2800 per annum, which he said represented 25% of someone’s old age pension.  He said that these charges were directed at the most vulnerable residents in the County who would not be in a position to cover the proposed increases.


Councillor Linda Thew commented that an increase like the one proposed was inhumane.  She said that whilst Members had been told that residents were informed to expect an increase, she did not believe that they would have been expecting such a high increase.  She said that the increase would impact vulnerable residents who were unlikely to have any other means on income and supported Councillor Attridge’s suggestion that the increase be implemented over a longer period of time.  She asked if all measures had been taken to ensure that the properties were energy efficient. 


Councillor Dale Selvester referred to the energy cost increases at his  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Members of the Press in Attendance

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There were no members of the press in attendance.