Agenda item

Motions

Note:

Under the Council’s constitution, 30 minutes are available for the consideration of motions. In practice, this realistically means that there is usually only time for one, or possibly two motions to be considered.

 

With the agreement of the Lord Mayor, motion 1 below will be considered at this meeting, and motion 2 is likely to be considered, subject to time.

 

Details of other motions submitted, (which, due to time constraints, are very unlikely to be considered at this meeting) are also set out for information.

 

 

 

Minutes:

Altered Golden Motion: Private Sector Housing

 

Councillor Tom Renhard moved the following motion:

 

This council notes:

• Privately rented homes in Bristol make up around 30% of the total housing stock.

• The cost of privately renting a property in Bristol has increased by over 50% in ten years.

• 40% of council homes have been transferred to the private rented sector through right-to-buy. The UK Housing Review 2022 branding right-to-buy as a ‘strategic failure.’

• Increasingly unaffordable rents risks driving key workers further out of the city.

• The current demand for rented properties at affordable prices has led to an increased power imbalance between tenants and landlords, resulting in tenants being warier to ask for repairs in fear of eviction, and the rising prevalence of ‘bidding wars’ - where letting agents encourage private renters to outbid one another for a property. This clearly has negative effect for renters, particularly low-income households.

• The Labour administration’s work so far to support private renters, including the roll out of landlord licensing schemes, stamping out illegal ‘no DSS’ discrimination, the Renters’ Summit, and the Living Rent Commission – which is exploring the options for rent controls within Bristol.

 

This council believes:

• Housing should be regarded first and foremost as homes rather than investment assets.

• Rent controls are needed in Bristol to stop homes in the private rented sector becoming increasingly unaffordable.

• Effective rent controls should be equitable, proportionate, and data-driven.

• Landlord Licensing schemes are an effective tool to improve conditions in the private rented sector. These schemes should be expanded city-wide.

• Further action is needed to protect private renters and ensure their homes are not in poor condition.

• Private renters are less likely to complain about problems with their homes if they face a threat of losing it as a result. Therefore, Government should bring forward the legislation it pledged to outlaw no fault evictions immediately.

• The Renters Reform White Paper should be strengthened. The Renters’ Reform Coalition’s ‘Safe, secure and affordable homes for all: A renters’ blueprint for reform’ should be the basis for reforms to the Private Rented Sector.

• Right-to-buy should not be expanded to the include housing associations, as was included in the 2022 Queen’s Speech – which outlines a government’s legislative agenda.

 

This council resolves to:

• Bring the findings of the Living Rent Commission to Full Council and commit to implementing its results. Should the Commission recommend a form of rent control, this council should use its resources to lobby the Government for permission to introduce rent controls in Bristol.

• Ask officers to consider serving improvement notices on homes with severe hazards to prevent landlords from serving Section 21 notices and enable Rent Repayment Orders if the landlord fails to comply. Council officers should also seek to serve more improvement notices for excess cold in homes that fail Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, and help private renters claim back rent through rent repayment orders when they are eligible to do so.

• Enforce the ban on letting agent fees by issuing fines to criminal letting agents.

• To condemn the practice of bidding wars and instruct officers to find ways that Bristol City Council can work to end the practice of ‘bidding wars’ in the private rented sector.

• Support the Renters’ Reform Coalition proposals and use council resources to lobby the government to strengthen the Renters’ Reform White Paper. This includes calls for a national landlord register and abolishing the ‘Right to Rent’ checks.

• Oppose any expansion of right-to-buy to include housing associations and instruct officers to submit a plan to government of possible ways to boost affordable home ownership rates without depleting social housing stock.

• Publish an annual “living rent index” of what affordable rents would be for Bristol.

 Following the conclusion of the Living Rent Commission, continue its work through a new, constituted forum in conjunction with the Homes and Communities Board.

• Review our Private Housing Enforcement policy to ensure it reflects any new national legislation and that formal action can be taken in a timely manner.

• Maintain a publicly accessible list of Enforcement Notices served on Private Housing in Bristol if no such national database materialises following the Renters Reform bill.

• Establish a regular Renters’ Forum to engage with private rental tenants.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Carla Denyer

 

Following debate, upon being put to the vote, the motion was CARRIED (35 For, 9 against, 2 abstentions) and it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

This council notes:

• Privately rented homes in Bristol make up around 30% of the total housing stock.

• The cost of privately renting a property in Bristol has increased by over 50% in ten years.

• 40% of council homes have been transferred to the private rented sector through right-to-buy. The UK Housing Review 2022 branding right-to-buy as a ‘strategic failure.’

• Increasingly unaffordable rents risks driving key workers further out of the city.

• The current demand for rented properties at affordable prices has led to an increased power imbalance between tenants and landlords, resulting in tenants being warier to ask for repairs in fear of eviction, and the rising prevalence of ‘bidding wars’ - where letting agents encourage private renters to outbid one another for a property. This clearly has negative effect for renters, particularly low-income households.

• The Labour administration’s work so far to support private renters, including the roll out of landlord licensing schemes, stamping out illegal ‘no DSS’ discrimination, the Renters’ Summit, and the Living Rent Commission – which is exploring the options for rent controls within Bristol.

 

This council believes:

• Housing should be regarded first and foremost as homes rather than investment assets.

• Rent controls are needed in Bristol to stop homes in the private rented sector becoming increasingly unaffordable.

• Effective rent controls should be equitable, proportionate, and data-driven.

• Landlord Licensing schemes are an effective tool to improve conditions in the private rented sector. These schemes should be expanded city-wide.

• Further action is needed to protect private renters and ensure their homes are not in poor condition.

• Private renters are less likely to complain about problems with their homes if they face a threat of losing it as a result. Therefore, Government should bring forward the legislation it pledged to outlaw no fault evictions immediately.

• The Renters Reform White Paper should be strengthened. The Renters’ Reform Coalition’s ‘Safe, secure and affordable homes for all: A renters’ blueprint for reform’ should be the basis for reforms to the Private Rented Sector.

• Right-to-buy should not be expanded to the include housing associations, as was included in the 2022 Queen’s Speech – which outlines a government’s legislative agenda.

 

This council resolves to:

• Bring the findings of the Living Rent Commission to Full Council and commit to implementing its results. Should the Commission recommend a form of rent control, this council should use its resources to lobby the Government for permission to introduce rent controls in Bristol.

• Ask officers to consider serving improvement notices on homes with severe hazards to prevent landlords from serving Section 21 notices and enable Rent Repayment Orders if the landlord fails to comply. Council officers should also seek to serve more improvement notices for excess cold in homes that fail Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, and help private renters claim back rent through rent repayment orders when they are eligible to do so.

• Enforce the ban on letting agent fees by issuing fines to criminal letting agents.

• To condemn the practice of bidding wars and instruct officers to find ways that Bristol City Council can work to end the practice of ‘bidding wars’ in the private rented sector.

• Support the Renters’ Reform Coalition proposals and use council resources to lobby the government to strengthen the Renters’ Reform White Paper. This includes calls for a national landlord register and abolishing the ‘Right to Rent’ checks.

• Oppose any expansion of right-to-buy to include housing associations and instruct officers to submit a plan to government of possible ways to boost affordable home ownership rates without depleting social housing stock.

• Publish an annual “living rent index” of what affordable rents would be for Bristol.

 Following the conclusion of the Living Rent Commission, continue its work through a new, constituted forum in conjunction with the Homes and Communities Board.

• Review our Private Housing Enforcement policy to ensure it reflects any new national legislation and that formal action can be taken in a timely manner.

• Maintain a publicly accessible list of Enforcement Notices served on Private Housing in Bristol if no such national database materialises following the Renters Reform bill.

• Establish a regular Renters’ Forum to engage with private rental tenants.

 

 

Silver Motion: Preserving Bristol’s Transport and Design Powers For The Future

 

Councillor Ed Plowden moved the following motion:

 

This Council notes:

• There is a climate emergency and Bristol needs to change rapidly to adapt to and mitigate the existential threats caused by climate chaos;

• We will need to play a difficult balancing act to preserve what makes our city great whilst recognising that “do nothing” is not an option;

• The design of the City’s places and movement will play a critical part in this adaptation and mitigation;

• We have specialist officer expertise in the Strategic City Transport and City Design teams that help the Council make good decisions to re-design our future City;

• The Mayor’s controversial proposal to abolish these teams, with minimal detail provided as to their future form or ongoing functions;

• That outsourcing the delivery of some transport projects will actually cost more than keeping them in-house;

• The Temple Quarter Regeneration will shape the city for decades;

• The commitment made by the Cabinet Member for Transport to publish the report on Workplace Parking Levy has not been fulfilled, despite his reasoning that it was such an important decision that it should be put before Full Council;

• The recent WECA (West of England Combined Authority) Audit report that identified significant weaknesses in its operations.

 

This Council believes:

• Decisions that impact on the Council’s future need to be taken transparently and informed by expertise;

• The Council needs expert support to fulfil its statutory Planning and Transport duties, in collaboration with other authorities;

• Although there is a good Transport Strategy in place, very little progress has been made in delivering it in in a rounded and balanced way, for example the city needs parking and cycling strategies, but these have not been progressed despite repeated promises to bring them forward.

• Restructuring the expertise of planners in City Design and Transport departments without clear future arrangements has the potential to affect severely the Council’s ability to make informed and quality decisions, which will inevitably impact on regeneration plans such as Temple Quarter;

• The capacity of the Council to continue to exercise these functions needs to be underpinned by a clear options and risk analysis and be referred for proper scrutiny, including to the Committee Model Working Group;

• There are different potential funding models that need to be explored to support the effective continuation of the teams, such as reviewing the capital recharge rate for staff and demand management options.

• Bristol needs capacity to be able to negotiate strategically with WECA, as recommended by the WECA auditors.

 

This Council resolves:

• To call on the Mayor to pause and clarify what the alternative proposals are for fulfilling these functions in sufficient time for this to be fully considered by councillors, including the Committee Model Working Group;

• That the proposals for ongoing staffing budgets should be considered as part of a budget process led by Full Council, rather than the Cabinet in isolation;

• To call on the administration to make the Workplace Parking Levy report available to Full Council as promised, so its potential to raise valuable revenue can at the very least be considered;

• To call on the Mayor to ensure problems with WECA’s functioning are resolved before any further significant functions are transferred;

• To call on the Mayor to include in any firm proposals careful consideration of how Bristol will retain capacity to negotiate strategically with WECA, and the other Unitary Authorities involved

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Emma Edwards.

 

Following debate, upon being put to the vote, the motion was CARRIED (40 For, 0 against, 19 abstentions) and it was

 

RESOLVED

 

This Council notes:

• There is a climate emergency and Bristol needs to change rapidly to adapt to and mitigate the existential threats caused by climate chaos;

• We will need to play a difficult balancing act to preserve what makes our city great whilst recognising that “do nothing” is not an option;

• The design of the City’s places and movement will play a critical part in this adaptation and mitigation;

• We have specialist officer expertise in the Strategic City Transport and City Design teams that help the Council make good decisions to re-design our future City;

• The Mayor’s controversial proposal to abolish these teams, with minimal detail provided as to their future form or ongoing functions;

• That outsourcing the delivery of some transport projects will actually cost more than keeping them in-house;

• The Temple Quarter Regeneration will shape the city for decades;

• The commitment made by the Cabinet Member for Transport to publish the report on Workplace Parking Levy has not been fulfilled, despite his reasoning that it was such an important decision that it should be put before Full Council;

• The recent WECA (West of England Combined Authority) Audit report that identified significant weaknesses in its operations.

 

This Council believes:

• Decisions that impact on the Council’s future need to be taken transparently and informed by expertise;

• The Council needs expert support to fulfil its statutory Planning and Transport duties, in collaboration with other authorities;

• Although there is a good Transport Strategy in place, very little progress has been made in delivering it in in a rounded and balanced way, for example the city needs parking and cycling strategies, but these have not been progressed despite repeated promises to bring them forward.

• Restructuring the expertise of planners in City Design and Transport departments without clear future arrangements has the potential to affect severely the Council’s ability to make informed and quality decisions, which will inevitably impact on regeneration plans such as Temple Quarter;

• The capacity of the Council to continue to exercise these functions needs to be underpinned by a clear options and risk analysis and be referred for proper scrutiny, including to the Committee Model Working Group;

• There are different potential funding models that need to be explored to support the effective continuation of the teams, such as reviewing the capital recharge rate for staff and demand management options.

• Bristol needs capacity to be able to negotiate strategically with WECA, as recommended by the WECA auditors.

 

This Council resolves:

• To call on the Mayor to pause and clarify what the alternative proposals are for fulfilling these functions in sufficient time for this to be fully considered by councillors, including the Committee Model Working Group;

• That the proposals for ongoing staffing budgets should be considered as part of a budget process led by Full Council, rather than the Cabinet in isolation;

• To call on the administration to make the Workplace Parking Levy report available to Full Council as promised, so its potential to raise valuable revenue can at the very least be considered;

• To call on the Mayor to ensure problems with WECA’s functioning are resolved before any further significant functions are transferred;

• To call on the Mayor to include in any firm proposals careful consideration of how Bristol will retain capacity to negotiate strategically with WECA, and the other Unitary Authorities involved.

Supporting documents: