Venue: COUNCIL CHAMBER - MICROSOFT TEAMS
Apologies for Absence
No apologies for absence were received.
Declarations of Interest (including whipping declarations)
Members are reminded of their personal responsibility to declare any personal and prejudicial interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government and Finance Act 1992 relating to Council Tax, the Local Government Act 2000, the Council’s Constitution and the Members Code of Conduct
(a) Members are reminded that they must identify the item number and subject matter that their interest relates to and signify the nature of the personal interest and
(b) Where Members withdraw from a Meeting as a consequence of the disclosure of a prejudicial interest they must notify the Chair when they leave
No Declarations of Interest were made.
To consider the attached report
The Chair referred the Committee to the ‘Forward Work Programme 2022/23’ report.
A Member then referred to the attendance of South Wales Police at a future Meeting and would recommend that dangerous and irresponsible driving be raised at that Meeting together with a complimentary report from the Cabinet Member in relation to the view of the Council on this issue.
Paul Lewis then advised of the Joint Enforcement Strategy and suggested that a Workshop be facilitated in relation to the progress of this Strategy together with the consideration of an Action Plan first followed by consideration at the Scrutiny Committee.
The items as set out in the Scrutiny Forward Work Programme as detailed at (Appendix 1) be agreed.
To consider the attached Presentation and verbal Update
The Chair welcomed Councillor G Thomas, Councillor M Symonds Cabinet Members together with the Officers to the Meeting.
Empty Buildings in the County Borough
What are we doing about Empty Homes
The Committee were provided with a copy of the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council – Empty Property Strategy 2022 – 2026 – Focus on the Future – Unlocking the Potential – Working with Empty Home Owners and Partners to reduce the number of Empty Homes across the County Borough.
Councillor M Symonds then referred the Committee to the Presentation and advised of the aim to unlock the housing potential of long term empty homes and the target to bring a further 200 empty homes back into use over the next five years.
Sian James and Melissa Clee then gave details in relation to:
· What is the issue
· Some Social and Environmental Problems associated with Empty Homes
· Performance Data – Financial Years 2012 – 2022 – Total Number of Long Term Empty Properties, The Number of Vacant Properties returned to use through Direct Action of the Local Authority, The percentage of Empty Properties returned to use through Direct Action of the Local Authority
· Empty Property Strategy 2022 – 2026 – Approved by Full Council in February 2022
· How we bring Homes back into use – Engagement, Advice and Support, Financial Assistance, Enforcement (Last Option)
The following questions were then raised by the Committee on the Presentation and were responded to in detail by the Cabinet Members and the Officers:
· 568 Long Term Empty Homes – Several properties empty for a very long time – When is Enforcement Action carried out
· Local Authorities in Wales having extra powers to deal with empty homes – Explanation requested at what stage use is made of this Legislation – Why has it not been used so far
· Financial assistance – How are Grants / Loans offered to Owners – What is the maximum amount that can be applied for
· What is the end date for the response from letters – Will this be brought back to the Scrutiny Committee
· Is the aim of 6% enough
· Is there a requirement for a full time officer to deal with this
· (Alyn Owen then suggested that a copy of the most recent letter sent to home owners be shared with the Committee)
· Request that the funding available for landlords be shared with the Committee
· Have all home owners been advised of the scheme
· Council Tax Policy change – What resources are allocated in relation to anti-fraud measures ( Single Occupancy)
· What pre-emptive actions are taken if any to prevent houses from becoming long term empty
· Extensive data – Data on length of vacancy – Useful to have a Table of how many properties and the length of time empty
· How many owners engage after the letter is sent
· How many are not paying Council Tax
· How much money is owed to the Council for repairs to properties
· Of the 568, how many have been deemed unsafe
· Further ... view the full minutes text for item 275.
The Chair advised that there were no referrals.
Did we address the recommendations in each report and how have we added value?
The Chair and the Committee referred to the update on Empty Buildings in the County Borough and welcomed a Workshop on this together with regular updates.
Feedback on Scrutiny Activities
Any outstanding actions? Feedback from workshops / task and finish groups / enquiry days, etc.
The Committee were advised that Stagecoach had been written to and that this matter could be considered at a future Committee or to have a Workshop on this.
Housing and Homelessness
Follow up on information requested from Welsh Government.
Any Other Business deemed urgent by the Chair
The Chair advised that there was no business deemed urgent.