2018 Conference 'highlight of Empty Homes Week'

Will McMahon, the Director of campaigning charity Action on Empty Homes, praised our Empty Homes Conference as a 'highlight' of Empty Homes Week, in his blog post on our website.

Action on Empty Homes took the opportunity of the Conference to relaunch the organisation under its new title, with Will McMahon (pictured left) introducing himself to the practitioner world at large by initiating a dialogue with those present.

As part of the relaunch, the website has been freshened up and assigned a new domain: www.actiononemptyhomes.org

A highlight of the conference itself was the launch of the Property Guardian Providers Association. The  PGPA was the main sponsor of the Conference, helping us keep the event at affordable prices for cash-strapped local authorities.

Representatives from Ad Hoc Property Management (previous sponsors of the event over many years)  captured footage of the introductory session presented by Simon Finneran (Ad Hoc) and Graham Sievers (Secretary of the new association).

The launch was welcomed in the House of Lords,via a debate on the 15th October. The debate received interesting commentary from Katherine Hibbert at dot dot dot. There was also extensive coverage in the specialist property press elsewhere, e.g.https://www.risk-uk.com/government-welcomes-property-guardian-firms-launch-of-industry-trade-association/.

The Conference would not be complete without its Awards Session, hosted this year by E.ON Empty Home Solutions (see our earlier story for further details of their empty homes initiative). The outcome of the awards will be reported in future stories, though we have a couple of pictures of winners in the gallery below.

The feedback score for the Conference overall[1] was very slightly down from last year, slipping from a record-breaking 4.73 to 4.69 out of 5: hardly a disastrous showing.

Along with a launch and a relaunch there had to be a sinking, and this role was gladly accepted by David Gibbens who is slipping gracefully (or so he claims) below the  waves to frolic with the mermaids in Morecambe Bay.  Unlike last year, this really was his last Conference. In fact, the organisation of this year's event was already a joint effort, with Claire Hope from Exeter providing the essential support without which the event could not have taken place - so many thanks to her.

Andrew Lavender was also a stalwart, setting up shop and overseeing activities in the Propel suite, whilst Francis Shieber again handled registrations at the front desk and dealt with delegate bags. Many thanks. The delegate bags were much more substantial this year, but this seemed to have required the logos to be stuck on by a horde of primary school kids as part of a crafts project rather than being slickly printed into the cotton as in previous years. Such is the nature of progress.

Finally, kudos to Nick Pritchard-Gordon, who once more compered the event in his inimitable style.  To celebrate his many years at the helm there will be a special award next year for any speaker he fails to insult.

Picture Gallery

Graham Sievers (Chair and Secretary of the newly-formed Property Guardian Providers Association) with Simon Finneran of Ad Hoc (background).

Graham Sievers

Half man, half chair  - Nick Pritchard-Gordon of Reading Borough Council presenting a session on the  'Mad, Bad and Sad' hard-to-engage owners.

Nick P-G


The enthralled audience fiddle with their mobile phones

Plenary session, audience

Fiona Anthony of nplaw presented two sessions, one on GDPR and one on recent changes to CPO.

Fiona Anthony, nplaw

Happy joint winners of the Practitioner of the Year Award, presented by Steve Grimshaw on behalf of sponsor Kent No Use Empty to Lorna Frost of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and Sue Li of Derby City Council.

Steve Grimshaw with Lorna Frost

Steve Grimshaw with Sue Li

[1] 'What did you think of the conference overall?"

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