Hostels will improve, vows leader
Council chief apologises for temporary homes and says problems will be fixed
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