Hos­tels will im­prove, vows leader

Coun­cil chief apol­o­gises for tem­po­rary homes and says prob­lems will be fixed

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Police Chief - By Joe Wright jwright@thek­m­group.co.uk @joe_wright98

The leader of Can­ter­bury City Coun­cil has apol­o­gised for the “un­ac­cept­able” con­di­tions in some of the author­ity’s tem­po­rary homes – and vowed things will im­prove.

Over re­cent months, the Gazette has re­ported on a string of shock­ing cases high­light­ing poor con­di­tions and a fail­ure to fix prob­lems.

Now Con­ser­va­tive group leader Cllr Si­mon Cook says steps are be­ing taken to rec­tify the is­sues.

Speaking to the Gazette, he said: “Noth­ing like this should be hap­pen­ing any­where in the dis­trict – it’s un­ac­cept­able.

“I hold my hands up and apol­o­gise as it’s hugely re­gret­table. I don’t want this to hap­pen on my watch again as peo­ple de­serve bet­ter.

“No­body should be in that sit­u­a­tion. Some of the re­pairs in the hos­tels have not been up to scratch and that has been made abun­dantly clear to East Kent Hous­ing which man­ages the prop­er­ties.”

The two hos­tels in Old Dover Road, which fea­tured in last week’s Gazette, are now ear­marked for re­fur­bish­ment, with the fam­i­lies ex­pected to be moved out in the com­ing weeks.

Cllr Cook says the city coun­cil, which sup­plies 5,160 rented homes in­clud­ing 38 places in hos­tels, faces enor­mous de­mand for so­cial hous­ing.

This month there are 2,196 house­holds with a hous­ing need on the author­ity’s reg­is­ter and 36 known rough sleep­ers.

Cllr Cook added: “If there is a prob­lem, then peo­ple need to come to us. We are not om­nipo­tent so don’t know what’s go­ing on ev­ery­where.

“Once we are made aware the is­sue it can get sorted quickly.

“Over­all, it hasn’t been clear as to who should be fol­low­ing things up. We are re­view­ing it and com­mu­ni­ca­tion will get bet­ter.”

The author­ity has spent more than £10 mil­lion in buy­ing 44 homes since 2015/16 in a bid to help ease the hous­ing strain, and four more are in the pipe­line to be pur­chased this year.

Mean­while, a new of­fi­cer has been re­cruited to help bring empty homes back into use after it was es­ti­mated that 110 prop­er­ties are ly­ing dor­mant, and a so­cial let­ting agency has been cre­ated to ar­range ten­an­cies be­tween land­lords and in-need ten­ants.

Cllr Cook, who says the author­ity are in the process of buy­ing more than 60 ex­tra homes, added: “We aim to house all home­less peo­ple in our area.

“Tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion is be­ing re­viewed and stan­dards will be raised. A ded­i­cated man­ager for tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion at East Kent Hous­ing will also be in­tro­duced.”

Can­ter­bury Coun­cil leader Si­mon Cook has apol­o­gised for poor con­di­tions at tem­po­rary homes in Old Dover Road

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