Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 26 January 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Virtually

Contact: Katherine Davis on 01243 534674  Email:  kdavis@chichester.gov.uk

Link: To listen to the live broadcast recording please follow the link which will direct you to the live broadcasting webpage

Items
No. Item

67.

Chairman's Announcements

Any apologies for absence will be noted at this point.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Mrs Graves and Mr Hughes.

68.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman for the Meeting

Minutes:

In the absence of the Vice-Chairman it was proposed and seconded that Mrs Apel be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for today’s meeting.

 

RESOLVED

 

That Mrs Apel be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for today’s meeting.

69.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 50 KB

To approve the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 27 October 2020 and 27 November 2020.

 

To receive an update on progress against recommendations made to the Cabinet and the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

That the minutes of the meetings held on 27 October 2020 and 27 November 2020 be approved as a correct record.

 

Matters Arising

 

Miss Davis advised that an update had been sent to members on the progress of the Committee’s recommendations to Cabinet relating to:

 

17 November 2020

·         Minute 43: Future Customer Services Delivery

·         Minute 55: Call In Review of Parking Charges

·         Minute 56: Call In Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

27 November 2020

·         Minute: Leisure Services Performance Review

70.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce any urgent items that due to special circumstances are to be dealt with under the agenda item below relating to late items.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

71.

Declarations of Interests

Members and officers are reminded to make any declarations of disclosable pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests they may have in respect of matters on the agenda for this meeting.

Minutes:

Mrs Apel declared personal interest as a Trustee of Stonepillow.

72.

Public Question Time

The procedure for submitting public questions in writing no later than noon 2 working days before the meeting is available upon request from Democratic Services (the contact details for which appear on the front page of this agenda).

Minutes:

Question from Joan Barrowcliffe

 

Has anything been achieved from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting of June and July 2015 and the final report of the Service Charge Review Task and Finish Group, which went out from Ms Diane Shepherd on 11th September 2015?

 

Answer

 

Thank you for your question.

 

At the meeting of 15th September 2015 the Overview & Scrutiny Committee received a report from a Task and Finish Group that had considered many complaints received from Hyde tenants about their Service Charges in the preceeding months. The Committee instructed the then Head of Housing and Environment Services to write a letter to the Hyde Group setting out the Committees concerns and asking for a review of certain service charges it believed may have been incorrectly billed, including certain specific housing schemes. The Committee also asked for a response from Hyde to come back to the Committee in January 2016 to cover the methods used to calculate service charge increases, the progress made in resolving complaints and Hyde’s performance against their key performance indicators. 

 

In response to the resolution, and resulting letter from the Head of Housing & Environment, a report, produced by Hyde, did come to the January 2016 meeting and MrMorrisey the Director of Core Operations at Hyde attended the Committee to answer questions.

 

Hyde advised that the addition of Health and Safety Compliance costs and the impact of better informed service cost estimates had resulted in the increases, however, they accepted that these changes could have been communicated more effectively to tenants. They also accepted that in the case of the specific schemes highlighted by the Committee, the overall percentage increases were high. In the main, this was due to the health & safety compliance service costs being included for the first time. Hyde confirmed they were committed to delivering services that were value for money, but also service charges had to accurately reflect the costs incurred. Hyde thanked the Task & Finish Group for its work in highlighting the concerns and committed to working with residents in the Chichester area to resolve any specific issues or concerns they may have around their service charges.

 

Copies of the agendas and minutes of the relevant meetings, including the report from Hyde that went to the January 2016 meeting, are available on the Council’s website which will include more detail, however, Hyde have also been asked to comment on the outcome of the meetings in their address to the Committee today.

 

The Chairman added that the reason Hyde Housing had been invited to attend a further meeting of this Committee, along with the Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events, was due to the importance that this Committee placed on the housing provided for tenants in the District.

 

Mrs Barrowcliffe was invited to email her District Ward member, copying in the Chairman, if she had any further concerns to raise.  The Chairman advised that during the Covid 19 pandemic officers had been working with Hyde Housing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.

73.

Hyde Housing

The Committee has invited representatives from Hyde to attend this meeting.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed, Ms Cox, Mr Hunter and Mr Batchelor from Hyde Housing.

 

The Committee had provided the Hyde Housing representatives with a set of questions on the following themes: Housing Stock and Standards, Contracted Works, Service Charges, Communication and Engagement with tenants, Covid 19 and miscellaneous in advance of the meeting (appended to the official minutes).  The representatives also answered questions raised by members at the meeting:

 

·  Liberator Place, Chichester:  Waking fire watch service set up during October 2019 and work taking place to mitigate these fire concerns.  Accreditation awaited following work on fire doors and fire stopping.  Hyde establishing if the defect was the responsibility of the developer. 

·  Damp and general condition of existing stock:  Survey established that, in comparison to general housing stock, properties were not of an age or banding significantly less than expected.   Will improve conditions of 2,500 properties in the District to band B and C by 2030.

·  £3-4 million spent on stock investment and £3 million on repairs and voids per year.  Planned maintenance on old stock increased spending.

·  At the start of the Covid 19 Pandemic maintenance work reverted to essential repairs only.  No longer restrictions on carrying out works following updated Government advice. 

·  88.6% repair satisfaction rate, 3% higher than other Hyde areas.  Repair appointments arranged by the Call Centre.  Text messaging service enabled tenants to review their repairs.  24 hour online repair appointment service to be introduced with facility to send video of repairs required.  Ability to contact Hyde by telephone if preferred. 

·  Since Covid 19 maximum waiting time for average repairs increased to 14 days.  Good progress being made to reduce this time.  Good relationship with the Council in dealing with damp problems and outstanding cases.  Mr Batchelor agreed to investigate the emails sent to Mrs Sharp from residents, some who had complex health needs, concerning long delays to repairs and their not being completed, including damp issues.

·  Mr Batchelor was disappointed to hear the examples of a lack of customer service by Hyde to residents and elected members.  He agreed to investigate the examples given by Mr Johnson including the delay to fix heating and dismantling of a fence and creation of a driveway.

·  Mr Hunter asked Mrs Apel to forward him details of the issues raised by residents who had not received a response to their queries.

·  Hyde’s Residents Voice open forum enabled tenants to raise issues. Resident involvement included consultation on any of Hyde’s services under review.  Contact details for Hyde’s services, as well as for councillors and members’ of Parliament were provided to tenants.

·  Many renewable energy replacements were not suitable for installation in Hyde’s social housing properties and new housing was still fitted with gas. 

·  Mrs Lishman, observing, asked about damage from a shared drainpipe. Mr Batchelor advised the matter should be reported to the Repairs Maintenance Team and the occupier of the private property should claim for any damage on their house insurance. 

·  Mr Oakley, observing, asked about service charges for amenity open  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.

74.

Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events Address

The Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events is invited to present his priorities and areas of focus over the coming months and to answer questions from the Committee on progress towards achieving the priorities within his portfolio.

Minutes:

Mr Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events commented on the amount of work undertaken during the Covid 19 pandemic and the need to be sustainable going forward to build on the positive changes made in respect of the following areas of his portfolio:

 

Rough Sleeping:

·      The Housing Register and Allocation Scheme review would result in better assistance to those applying for housing.

·      Number of rough sleepers reduced from 30 to four,

·      Successful bids for a range of Government funding, including the Rough Sleeper Initiativeand Next Steps Accommodation programme.

·      Stonepillow had assisted 50 individuals with 15 currently in nightly paid accommodation.

·      The Diverted Giving campaign encouraged people to donate to homeless charities instead of rough sleepers.

·      Continuing to work with Stonepillow and other partners to identify a pathway to a long term solution to more permanent accommodation.

·      Private landlords encouraged to join the Council’s HomeFinder scheme.

Homelessness:

·      A streamlined approach to deal with the increased number of people seeking homeless advice. 

·      Early intervention to prevent use of bed and breakfast accommodation.  An evictions spike was expected once Court proceedings resumed. 

·      A flexible approach enabled accommodation to be granted on an emergency basis to key workers, homeless and care leavers.

Registered Housing Providers:

·      No ability for the Council to determine which housing provider will deliver social housing on development sites.  

·      Support local Community Land Trusts and the Dears AlmshouseTrust;

·      Social housing negotiated on open market sites as part of the planning process. Commuted sums accepted in exceptional circumstances;

·      The Council had recently invested capital to fund 17 short term accommodation flats at Freeland Close, Chichester.

·      Increase in housing applications since the beginning of Covid 19.

·      Most housing providers were unwilling to provide schemes less than 20 affordable homes.

·      Liaising with housing partners on how to access Government funding.

 

Responses to members’ questions were provided:

 

·      The success of the Diverted Giving Scheme, having been implemented when shops were closed during the Covid 19 lockdown, was currently difficult to assess, as it was reliant on footfall to draw a comparison; 

·      It was not known if the Government would extend the hold on court action for evictions past 21 February 2021.  Indications from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government were that the deadline may be extended to at least the end of March 2021.   The Homeless Prevention fund provided help to prevent an eviction situation.

·      Mr Sutton undertook to assist with an issue a resident had concerning door locks in a block of flats outside of the meeting.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Sutton and the Housing Delivery Team for all their work, especially during the Covid 19 pandemic.  He suggested it would be useful to invite other housing providers to a future meeting.

75.

Covid 19 - Progress Covid 19 Recovery Action Plans pdf icon PDF 242 KB

The Committee is invited to note the actions achieved to date as set out in the report and appendices, and make any comments to Cabinet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a progress report on the Covid 19 Recovery Action Plan, which provided an update on the latest financial position, progress on the four thematic recovery plans, and an update on the efficiency review and the future services framework.

 

Mrs Shepherd outlined the report.  The Pandemic situation remained uncertain and was expected to continue for the remainder of the year.  The recent lockdown had created additional work for some teams in the Council and some staff had again been moved to priority service areas . Work was being undertaken to support any staff struggling with the ability to work at home, especially if they had children.  Despite these difficulties the Council continued to deliver day to day services and the Action Plan. 

 

The following corrections were made to page 21:

·  CHR02: Establish Pathways for Rough Sleepers: Status should be green

·  CHR05: Focus on support, Prevention and Fair Access to Social Housing: Status should be amber

·  CHR11: Embed Community Groups into Future Emergency Plans: Status should be green

 

Mrs Hotchkiss provided a progress update on the Southern Gateway project detailed on page 36 of the report. The Council was working with Henry Boot Developments on options for moving the business phases forward.  The market had significantly changed since the Council went out to tender, especially office space requirements, and leisure and entertainment.   An update meeting was due to take place with Stagecoach.  With regard to the health sector’s requirements for a community health hub, focus was currently on the provision of vaccination centres in response to the pandemic.

 

Officers responded to members questions and provided further updates:

 

·  The Council’s Car Parking Strategy was being reviewed and if demand dropped permanently other uses would be looked into. 

·  Mental Health and Wellbeing had been referred to the Community and Housing Recovery Group.  The issue has also been raised at the Public Health Working Group with partners including the County Council.

·  A full Southern Gateway Risk Register was attached to Cabinet and Council reports.  There were a number of areas where significant work was still required.  Members were aware that there had always been a significant funding gap and the delays to the grant funding requested by the project partners created difficulties in closing that gap.    There would be further clarity in the next month with a full update provided to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at a special meeting to be arranged.

·  The next three milestones on page 81, OR10: Supporting Local Businesses through Procurement, had also been completed.

·  Overall the results of the recent staff survey were positive and an improvement on the previous survey. A small proportion of staff (2.1%) were not coping well with working at home, although a small percentage of staff, the impact for the individuals could have a significant impact.  The number of staff commenting on the need for better IT support had reduced following VPN improvements.  Results to be shared with the Organisational Recovery Group and possibly this Committee at a future date.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.

76.

Asset Management pdf icon PDF 208 KB

To receive the report on the Council’s built and land assets, and to note the work to date and ongoing mechanism in place for their management and review

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report circulated with the agenda on the Council’s built and land assets.

 

Mr Gillett referred to the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and the resulting economic challenges on the Council’s property portfolio.  In line with good practice, officers continually monitored market rents and values to ensure the Council was receiving appropriate income and return on investment.  Recent investment opportunities included bringing unused land at the western end of Terminus Road into use and a pop up shop in Crane Street, Chichester.

 

Mr Gillett responded to members’ questions and comments:

 

·  Mr Gillett undertook to find out the latest position concerning the tenancy and occupation of 55 High Street, Selsey.

·  The storage shed located in Jubilee Gardens had been demolished by another service due to health and safety concerns about its poor condition and a number of thefts.  Mr Gillett suggested that Mrs Sharp contact the Parks directly for further information.

·  Members should contact Mr Gillett if they wished to see a copy of the list of Council owned assets.

 

The Committee understood the challenges arising from the significant impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the Estates Service in moving forward some projects. They wanted to see Council making the most use, for the best benefit, of the Council’s land for the community and for any other opportunities that arose.  It was agreed that a report would be brought back to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in approximately 12 months’ time.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has received the report on the Council’s built and land assets, and the work to date and ongoing mechanism in place for their management and review be noted.

77.

Review of the Housing Register and Allocation Scheme Task and Finish Group - Final Report pdf icon PDF 208 KB

That the Committee consider the findings of the Task and Finish Group appointed to review the Housing Register and Allocation Scheme and make any comments to Cabinet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report circulated with the agenda.

 

Mr Western presented the findings of the Housing Register and Allocation Scheme Task and Finish Group, detailed in appendix 1.  In particular the Group’s focus was on eligibility for the housing register, the need for a Local Connection, the system of Priority Banding, operational changes to the application and bidding process, and updating the allocation scheme to take into requirements in respect of both victims of domestic abuse and the Armed Services Covenant. 

 

Mr Western responded to members’ questions and comments:

 

·      With regard to first lets and a local connection for new housing, it was possible as part of a planning application to set rural criteria, for a rural exceptions site, but generally speaking it would be done on the Rural Allocations Policy.

·      Mr Western undertook to provide a summary to Mrs Bangert setting out the provisions for the allocation of housing of ex-military personnel and their families.

·      With regard to a request to include all the Manhood Peninsula in the Rural Allocations Policy, it was best applied to areas with relatively low lettings.  There was little evidence of people bidding for Selsey not already living there.

 

The Chairman informed members that if they wished to raise any specific questions or recommendations outside of the meeting to do so with Mr Western, once the consultation had taken place and the Housing Allocation Scheme drafted for approval by Cabinet.  

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Committee has considered the findings of the Task and Finish Group appointed to review the Housing Register and Allocation Scheme, as outlined in appendix 1.

78.

Budget Review Task and Finish Group - Final Report - Oral Report

The Committee will receive an oral report on the review carried out.

Minutes:

Mr Moss, outlined the deliberations of the Budget Task and Finish Group (TFG) held on 20 January 2021. 

 

The TFG’s purpose was to receive an update on the budget setting process and to receive clarification on savings being made.  It was not to scrutinise the budget, which was currently being prepared.  If any member had any specific recommendations, they could contact the relevant Cabinet Member. 

 

The TFG received details of the projected savings detailed in the Future

Services Framework for 2021-2022.  Some members expressed concerns about the challenges in achieving these savings.  However, officers advised that the savings were low risk and reliance was on 75% of the proposed savings being achieved. 

 

The TFG expressed concern about the impact of services as a result of vacant staffing posts, but were reassured that with the flexibility built into the Council there would be no detrimental effect.  The use of reserves was discussed to support the Climate Change initiative and to look at ways to boost tourism.  Additional revenue streams were discussed and how losses could be offset against a loss of car parking revenue.  The Council was due to receive Tranche 5 of the Local Government emergency Coronavirus pandemic funding of £569,000.  Advice was given on the collection and distribution of Non-Domestic Rates and the Government’s redistribution fee levy.  The TFG noted that the Novium Museum Cabinet TFG report would be presented to this Committee on 9 March 2021.  The Chairman advised members that if they wished to look at the Museum’s operations in more detail, amendments could be proposed at the Full Council meeting on 29 January 2021.  The TFG agreed to progress the operations of the Novium outside of the TFG informally and to discuss further with the wider Council membership.

 

Mr Palmer provided details of a Motion that he and Mr Brown intended to put to the Extraordinary Full Council meeting on 29 January 2021.  The proposal was that the Novium should be removed from the 12 month moratorium to postpone the review of this discretionary service.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the oral report be noted.

79.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Members are requested to consider the latest Forward Plan and whether any items should be added to the Committee’s Work Programme.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Council’s Forward Plan for the period February to May 2021.

 

With regard to the Provision of Coastal Engineering Service, Mrs Rudziak agreed to follow up the reporting route for this item.

 

The Chairman undertook to discuss this matter with Mrs Purnell outside of the meeting to see if there was a need to bring it to this Committee for consideration, subject to timescales.

80.

Late Items pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Consideration of any late items as follows:

 

a)    Items added to the agenda papers and made available for public inspection.

b)    Items which the Chairman has agreed should be taken as matters of urgency by reason of special circumstances reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no late items.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

O&S Issues for Hyde

Housing Stock and Standards

Please could Hyde give us an update on works taking place at Liberator Place in Chichester?

A large proportion of reports are problems with recurring damp from older properties. Is there a timetable for retrofitting properties? Is there a target for the number of properties to be retrofitted, and are there target date?

How many Hyde houses are currently empty/being renovated?

Can we have an update on renovation work on the current housing stock?

Contracted Works

Would it be possible for copies of works completed to be left with tenants so that when other contractors turn up there is some knowledge of what other contractors have done?

Could contractors work more flexibly and appropriate to the season?

Could workers check that the job has been properly finished before leaving the property to avoid repeat visits?

For residents with children with special needs, could notice be given if a job is to be particularly noisy so arrangements could be made for affected children to be out of the house?

Hyde owns quite a bit of land for example on Whyke Estate. Could some land be planted to trees (maybe community fruit trees) or wildflower meadows?. We have a new Tree Project Officer and it would be good if Hyde could liaise with her?

Would it be possible to liaise and set up a system for registered providers to work better together and deliver more environmental benefits while avoiding numerous contractors working in the same area?

Service Charges

Can Hyde please clarify how charges are worked out for those people who part own their home. For example if a resident owns 30% of their property and pays rent for the other 70% when it comes to costs for repairs to the communal areas of the block how are these divided up?

Why would similar properties incur different service charges?

What is the service charge actually used for?

A review was carried out in the summer of 2015 by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Residents have asked what was the outcome of the review which I believe was sent to Hyde in September of that year.

A number of the older estates that were subject to the LSVT have a significant amount of shared/publically accessible amenity open spaces and trees (some TPO’d) within them that are maintained by Hyde. Given the number of Hyde properties within these estates has reduced over the years, do the maintenance costs of these public amenities fall on ever reducing numbers of tenants within each estate or are they more generally covered by Hyde?

Communication and Engagement with tenants

Can forms be simplified into plain English?

Feedback from tenants could help to make improvements to the housing and the estates that Hyde manages. How do Hyde currently engage with their tenants to gain feedback?

The biggest problem that residents have complained about is poor communication and long delays in works  ...  view the full minutes text for item 80.