Leader's and Portfolio Holders' Announcements
Members are reminded that under paragraph 11.1 of part 4 of the Constitution, questions can be asked of the Leader and Cabinet Members without notice about any matter contained in any address. Questions shall be limited to five minutes in total for each announcement.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor R Blunt announced the Council’s plans to address the cost-of-living crisis. He spoke about the uncertainty faced by all residents on what the future would bring in terms of the cost of living in the coming months, a situation which was instigated by the war in Ukraine.
Whilst accepting that there was nothing that could be done about the cause, there were steps that could be taken to manage the consequences which included the establishment of an internal task force which would identify the issues and see what could be done to address them. This would include the provision of additional funding to supplement the help already available, examples being access to the discretionary housing pot, help with applications for the housing support fund, and help to maximise access to the existing grants available such as the £150 council tax rebate. Help was already being offered to tenants to assist with debt recovery and easier access to food banks to ensure that this was aimed at those who needed it most. Our close working relationship with partners, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau would continue. Work was also ongoing when looking at council homes and what could be done to maximise energy efficiency. Whilst longer term, energy efficiency would be vital in the coming months and years as it appeared that high energy prices could be with us for some time ahead. Sessions would also be held across the district which would enable residents to access advice and support. Communication would be crucial to advise how and when the support could be accessed. The Leader referred to a Communication Plan which would be commenced from today and was pleased to see that the Community Scrutiny Committee would closely consider the matter and he looked forward to seeing their report.
In response to comments and questions, Councillor Blunt advised that he shared members’ concerns about what the future holds but we have got through some tough times in recent years and he was confident that collectively we would get through it. With reference to the 50th anniversary of the Council, it was recognised that this would occur in 2023 but after the elections so any initiatives to recognise this will fall to the administration at that time. Reference was made to Councillor Bridgen not being able to live and work in the district which is why he found it difficult to attend many meetings and his position as a councillor going forward was a matter for him and the electorate. On being asked if the council or its partners will be providing warm spaces for the public, the Leader confirmed that this would be the case with the Fire Service already having made an offer. He confirmed that he had responded to the complainant who referenced an article in the Leicester Mercury which likened Coalville to Beirut and agreed that a joint leaders’ statement should be made to counter the comments in the said article. The Leader advised that this Authority was fortunate in that it has money available in reserves to help its residents through this difficult period which was a financial position that many other authorities were not able to claim. The Community Scrutiny Committee would be looking more closely at what measures could be implemented and would make recommendations for funding accordingly. Finally, the Leader advised that he would share with all members the Communication Plan on the steps to be taken by the Council to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
The Housing, Property and Customer Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor R Bayliss, announced that nine S106 properties had been acquired at a new estate at the Coppice, Heather Lane, Ravenstone which added to the Council’s property portfolio. These comprised a mix of two and three bedroomed homes and were handed over on Monday 22 August.
A member wanted to express his thanks to the Interim Head of Housing who dealt with a problem very quickly and wished for this to be recognised.
In answer to questions and comments, Councillor Bayliss echoed the views relating to Karen Connell, Interim Head of Housing. He was not able to confirm the rumour that the Council had bought the Leicester Inn adding that he certainly wasn’t aware, but he could confirm the acquisition of the Oak which was currently going through the appropriate planning process.