Agenda item

Public Question Time (15 Minutes)

The opportunity is given to members of the public to put questions to Cabinet Members or Committee Chairs provided that a question does not relate to:


·           Matters which are the subject of current or pending legal proceedings or

·           Matters relating to employees or former employees of the Council or comments in respect of individual Council Officers.


If you would like to ask a question at this meeting, please contact as soon as possible and by Monday 21 September 2020 at the latest.


27.1    Mr Gower asked, could the council inform him if people who are evicted from the hotels provided by city council and are therefore on our streets or sofa surfing, what is the mechanism for appeal such a decision made by council policy to be given duty by the council and did the council feel this was good practice at any time of year but during a pandemic extremely dangerous for all concerned.


27.2    The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, Councillor Watkins, responded that, following the ‘bring everyone in’ message from central government the Council housed a significant number of people in hotel accommodation across the County and continued to house those in need for several weeks,. Sadly, not everyone was able to sustain the accommodation and some were continually evicted despite new placements being found. However, work with these individuals was on-going across the countywide housing partnership to offer support where possible. There are also a number of individuals who have been evicted from hotels who we have not been able to maintain contact with. Some of these people may have left the area and we can assume that some will be sofa-surfing with family and friends.


27.3    In respect of appeals, Councillor Watkins further responded that if someone was placed under s189 localism act (non-priority need) and the Council ended accommodation this did not come with right of appeal. If someone was deemed in priority need and placed under s188 of housing act and then subsequently loses accommodation, they have a right to request a judicial review. However individual circumstances were kept under constant review.She stated that it was important to add that individuals evicted from hotels were evicted due to non-compliance with hotel rules and their own behaviour. The Council could not compel hotel owners to keep individuals who pose a risk to staff, property and other residents.


27.4    Councillor Watkins advised that extensive efforts had been made as part of the Council’s COVID-19 response to bring those in who were rough sleeping and at risk of rough sleeping. Unfortunately sometimes people lose accommodation and are unable to sustain accommodation for a multitude of reasons. In these cases, Officers and commissioned services work hard to offer support.


27.5    Mr Gower asked if Councillor Watkins stood by the Council’s policy to provide food only for those not on benefits living in hotels, during the pandemic and previously homeless. Councillor Watkins advised that this was not the policy and had never been. Food was initially provided to all residents and then on the basis of need. The Council assessed individual needs of households placed and if it was deemed reasonable to provide access to food services the Council would do so. However, as a general rule, households were encouraged and enabled to provide for themselves by ensuring they were in receipt of any benefits they were entitled to.


27.6    Mr Gower noted that the Covid 19 Emergency Plan written by the Government regarding homeless provision in hotels and the second statement of intent mentioned an assessment for all concerned.  He asked how many assessments per occupant of all hotels used have had an assessment in Gloucester.


27.7    Councillor Watkins responded that all households placed into emergency accommodation were given a full housing needs assessment. If they were placed out of hours, the Council aimed to assess within one working day to ensure their needs and situation were known.