Labour Group Annual General Meeting
The Labour Group held its AGM on Tuesday 1st May 2018. I was delighted to be re-elected as Labour Leader and wish to thank the Group for this vote of confidence. My colleague Kevin Stephens was elected as Deputy Group Leader and Whip following Lauren Fearn’s decision to stand down as Deputy due to work commitments. I wish to place on record my thanks to Lauren for her support and hard work during the past year. Neil Hampson has stepped down as Chair of the Group and is replaced by Kate Haigh. Again, I wish to thank Neil for his hard work and support. Other appointments include Deborah Smith as Secretary and Lauren Fearn as Treasurer. Tom Coole continues in his role as Chair of Overview & Scrutiny Committee. With other Group members we have a strong team who will continue to work with our PPC Fran Boait to build a new vision for Gloucester and expose the failures and weaknesses of the Tories and Liberal Democrats in the City.
The New Civic Year
The new civic year began today - Monday 21st May with the election of a new Mayor – Joanne Brown and Sheriff – Howard Hyman both from the Liberal Democratic Party. We wish Joanne and Howard every success for their year in office.
Tackling the housing crisis in the City
I was pleased to see that the Cabinet recently accepted 2 papers dealing with housing issues. Firstly, a paper outlining new enforcement powers contained in the Housing & Planning Act 2016 to deal with rogue landlords, disrepair and enforcement of regulations in the private rented sector. This includes the ability to impose civil penalties of up to £30,000, placing on a database of rogue landlords and ultimately issuing banning orders for the worst offenders. Action in this area is something we have been demanding for a long time and is very akin to our proposals for a private sector licensing scheme that we put forward in the budget. We will be keeping a very close eye on this to make sure the scheme is implemented effectively.
The second paper dealt with a whole range of proposals to increase the supply of temporary accommodation to deal with the increasing homeless crisis in the City. Again, we have been pressing for urgent action to tackle this issue and many of the proposals mirror those we proposed during the recent City Council Budget debate. For example, Leasing Schemes with Housing Associations, direct purchase of private properties, setting up a Local Authority owned housing company, joint ventures and improving take-up of Discretionary Housing Benefit. We will be monitoring this very closely.
Ultimately if we are to solve the housing crisis in our City we need to build more social housing particularly for direct rent. We will continue to press for action to increase the supply of social housing where the planned provision is totally inadequate to meet the need.
Terry Pullen is the Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors at Gloucester City Council. This is part of a series of regular blogs which focus on his views of events at Gloucester City Council.