To receive any statement from the Leader of the Council, Members of the Executive, Chairmen of Committees or the Head of Paid Service.
The Leader of the Council: Councillor M. Brunt
The Leader of the Council complimented the Council’s elections team for having successfully delivered three elections during 2019. The former Electoral Services Manager, Sally Crawford, had retired and the Leader commended the contribution that Sally had made to the Council, and wished her well for the future.
• Praised the staff involved in tackling the flooding that occurred in Horley before Christmas, along with Councillor Biggs for his response.
• Thanked the Reigate Fairtrade Action Group for providing samples for Members to try before the meeting, and felt that a similar event would be suitable for staff.
• Felt that the agreement of the Housing Strategy, by the Executive, demonstrated a substantial change in emphasis for the Council, which was positive and proactive.
The Leader thanked Councillor Knight, and the Head of Corporate Policy, Catherine Rose, for their work in producing the Corporate Plan ‘Reigate and Banstead 2020 – 2025’, which had been shaped by the contributions of Councillors and feedback from residents. Adopting the five-year plan was a significant milestone for the Council. The Plan outlined that the Council would do more, at a time when many other Councils would have to do less.
Executive Member for Housing and Benefits: Councillor Knight
Councillor Knight spoke of his pride in the Council’s emergency accommodation facility on Massetts Road, Horley, which had opened in September 2018. The decision to provide the Council’s own emergency accommodation for homeless households was a response to the rising costs of private nightly paid accommodation, often located out of the Borough. Moreover, the Council’s decision was based on the need to support homeless families locally, and to keep children in their schools.
The Massetts Road facility:
• Could accommodate up to 10 small families, with a typical occupancy rate of over 95%
• Had been home to 55 households in need, since it opened in 2018
• Was an indistinguishable part of the community
• Provided for every family their own private kitchen facility, and was cleaned each weekday
• Had saved the Council around £15,600 per month in out-of-Borough nightly private accommodation support, instead providing the support directly by the Council and in the Borough.
Councillor Knight commended the previous Portfolio Holder, Councillor Renton for her vision to establish the project, and praised the Council’s Head of Housing, Richard Robinson and his team for their dedication in delivering the scheme.
The Council’s Accommodation Officer provided an intensive management and maintenance service for the property, along with the seven other temporary homes that the Council owned, and to households placed in nightly paid accommodation. Households had come to the Council’s accommodation at a difficult time in their lives and had reported being pleased by the standard of accommodation provided, which had been reflected in high levels of engagement with the Council and other agencies. The facility had enabled families, and some single people, to remain local and children could continue to attend their schools. It had also provided a point of stability for households, enabling them to be supported to move to social or private rented housing.
Councillor Knight illustrated the success of the scheme with examples, and went on to announce his plan to bring forward for consultation a project targeted at homeless single men and women with complex needs.