According to the latest Government figures the number of empty homes in Thanet reached 899 in 2016. That’s an increase of 168 additional empty homes compared to 2015 when the number stood at 731. This staggering 23% rise is unacceptable in a district which has the longest housing waiting list in Kent. But it gets worse. The number of empty homes in Thanet is not just the highest in Kent but the highest out of all of the 74 councils in south east England. Worse still, TDC’s unacceptable performance is not a one-off glitch. For many years TDC has performed consistently badly in its management of empty homes when compared with the rest of Kent. Official Government figures show that in the 12 year period 2004 -2016 the number of empty properties in Thanet has been between 2 to 3 times the rate of the rest of Kent, with no sign of this shameful situation changing.
TDC may argue that its poor performance is because it is operating in a deprived seaside area with more than the average number of flats and houses in multiple occupation and difficult to trace absentee landlords which makes tackling empty homes quite tricky. But I don’t accept this. Take Hastings, which faces similar problems to Thanet – it had just 523 empty homes in 2016 - 376 less than TDC. Consider Blackpool. It had 1,174 empty homes in 2016, which is 275 more than TDC. But Blackpool is much bigger than Thanet and has much higher levels of deprivation. Also, in 2016, both Blackpool and Hastings successfully reduced their empty properties numbers when compared with 2015, but in Thanet, as I have already mentioned the number of empty properties increased by 168.
These statistics demonstrate that TDC has deep-seated and longstanding problems in tackling what is a totally unacceptable situation. Either TDC is incompetent in the way in which manages empty properties, or it simply doesn’t have the political will to take robust action to bring the number of empty homes down. TDC has plenty of carrots and sticks in its arsenal to persuade, encourage and force the owners of these properties to make them fit and available for habitation but for one reason or another it chooses not to so on the scale which is so urgently required. This failure is scandal. Just image what a difference making just half of these 899 empty homes available for rent would make.
If you elect me to Kent County Council I will tackle this scandal of empty homes in Thanet and hold Thanet to account for its long-standing failure in managing this serious problem. I will also make the increased provision of affordable social rented housing in Thanet one my top priorities.Published and promoted by Ian Driver, 45 Sea View Road, CT101BX . Independent candidate, Kent County Council election, 4th May, Ramsgate Division