Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 18 January 2024 5.00 pm

Venue: Conference Chamber, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3YU

Contact: Christine Brain: Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item



Any member who is substituting for another member should so indicate, together with the name of the relevant absent member.


The following substitution was declared:


Councillor David Smith acting as temporary substitute for Councillor Rowena Lindberg.




Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Aaron Luccarini, Luke Halpin, Rowena Lindberg and Don Waldron.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 9 November 2023 (copy attached).


The minutes of the meeting held on 9 November 2023 were confirmed as correct record and signed by the Chair.


Declarations of interest

Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any disclosable pecuniary interest, other registerable or non-registrable interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda, no later than when that item is reached and, when appropriate, to leave the meeting prior to discussion and voting on the item.


Members’ declarations of interest are recorded under the item to which the declaration relates.


Announcements from the Chair regarding responses from the Cabinet to reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee


The Chair informed members that the Vice-Chair attended Cabinet on 5 December 2023 and presented the Committee’s report from its meeting held on 9 November 2023.  As per the minutes confirmed above, the Vice-Chair presented the recommendations from the Committee on the Abbeycroft Strategic Partnership Review, which were approved by Cabinet.




Public participation

Members of the public who live or work in the district are welcome to speak and may ask one question or make a statement of not more than three minutes duration relating to items to be discussed in Part 1 of the agenda only.  If a question is asked and answered within three minutes, the person who asked the question may ask a supplementary question that arises from the reply.


The Constitution allows that a person who wishes to speak must register at least 15 minutes before the time the meeting is scheduled to start.


There is an overall limit of 15 minutes for public speaking, which may be extended at the Chair’s discretion.



There were no members of the public in attendance on this occasion.


Housing Update pdf icon PDF 458 KB

Report number: OAS/WS/24/001

Additional documents:


[Councillor Mager arrived at 5.25pm during the consideration of this item.]


The Committee received report number OAS/WS/24/001, presented by the Cabinet Member for Housing, which set out:


-    Progress and challenges against the current Housing Strategy and the current Homelessness Reduction and Rough Sleeping Strategy.


-    The council’s strategic priorities for housing for the period 2024 to 2028.


-    Emerging actions and plans for the development of the new Housing, Homelessness Reduction and Rough Sleeping Strategy for 2024 onwards.  Emerging actions would be the subject of further investigation and consideration as the council moved forward with its planning of the new strategy.


-    The current situation regarding refugees and asylum seekers in West Suffolk and how the council was addressing issues being faced in the district.


-    Responses provided to questions which the committee had raised with the Cabinet Member for Housing in advance of tonight’s meeting.


The report also set out a number of known challenges, including:


-    An insufficient supply of some types of housing, particularly affordable housing in West Suffolk in meeting housing needs.


-    Providing and retrofitting homes to reduce the impact on the environment.  Providing good quality housing which were a safe place to live in and thermal comfort which would impact positively on people’s lives and reduce costs to residents.


-    The cost-of-living crisis was making affordability of housing more challenging for many families.  This had a detrimental impact on physical and mental health and wellbeing with long-term negative impacts on the population and placing additional demand on the wider Suffolk system.  The lack of affordable housing placed additional demands on the housing register with people finding it difficult to maintain a tenancy in the private rented sector.


The Committee was then asked to consider the report, and in particular the emerging actions currently being considered for inclusion in the new strategy; plans on how the new strategy should be developed, including consultation and engagement and how the committee would like to be involved.


The Committee scrutinised the report in detail and asked a number of questions to which the Cabinet Member for Housing provided comprehensive responses.  In particular discussions were held on the differentiation between affordable housing and social housing; how the council was addressing empty homes across the district; the various refugees and asylum housing schemes; Houses in Multiple Occupation; barriers being faced by young people accessing housing; the ageing population and appropriate housing; retrofitting heritage homes; house conditions in the private sector; disabled facilities grants and stalled housing development sites.


In response to a question raised in relation to the types and number of people in bed and breakfast accommodation, officers agreed to provide a written responses on the breakdown of the types of people in bed and breakfast, for example young people; single people; families.


In response to a question raised on shared equity to help young people to access housing, the Cabinet Member for Housing advised he would look into the options around shared equity.


In response to a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 268.


Cabinet Decisions Plan: 1 February 2024 to 31 May 2024 pdf icon PDF 156 KB

Report number: OAS/WS/24/002

Additional documents:


The Committee received report number: OAS/WS/24/002, which informed members on forthcoming decisions to be considered by the Cabinet for the period 1 February 2024 to 31 May 2024.


The Committee considered the Decisions Plan and did not request any further information on items contained in the Plan.


There being no decision required, the Committee noted the contents of the 1 February 2024 to 31 May 2024 Decisions Plan.



Work programme update 2024 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Report number: OAS/WS/24/003

Additional documents:


The Committee received report number: OAS/WS/24/003, which updated members on the current status of its rolling work programme of items for scrutiny during 2024 (Appendix 1).


In response to a question raised in relation to the Transport and Infrastructure Task and Finish Group, the Chair advised that officers were working in the background on the topic, and the first meeting of the Task and Finish Group would be arranged in due course.


There being no decision required, the Committee noted the update.