Grenfell on busy agenda at housing scrutiny committee

Grenfell 2

AT the meeting of Thurrock Council’s Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week (Tuesday 18 July), members heard updates on fire safety, the council’s local housing company Gloriana Ltd. and the housing service review.

Speaking after the meeting, Chair of the Committee, Cllr Luke Spillman, said: “The committee was pleased with the progress made in addressing the issues arising in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

“Thurrock’s tower blocks are not carrying the cladding used at Grenfell – where many people lost their lives. In addition, the general safety standards seem to rank highly compared to towers in many other boroughs.

“However, this does not mean that we can be complacent and there may still be lessons to learn and improvements which can be made following the independent inquiry.”

On Gloriana, Cllr Spillman added: “The committee supports the continuation and expansion of Gloriana Ltd – however several members voiced concerns about the development at St Chads, Tilbury.

“We heard at the meeting that just 40 per cent of the homes let so far as private tenancies have been taken up by current Thurrock residents. This has since increased to 52 per cent, but no one should be content with this and more should have been at the outset done to explain to residents that the St Chads site was not delivering new council homes.

“We need to learn the lessons about how we better communicate with residents around future developments.”

Cllr Spillman also spoke about future housing developments in the borough. He said: “Unless there is radical change or a significant up-tick in private activity, the planned projects will not meet future demand.

“This Committee’s role is to push for decisive and ambitious plans to prevent a housing crisis becoming a housing disaster. As part of this the Committee will support changes at national level which can release more funding to develop housing in the borough, such as the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account debt cap, additional grants for new-build and regeneration schemes, and the ending of the rent reduction policy”

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