Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny - Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item



To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


The minutes from 05 June were agreed and then signed by the Chairman.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies were received from Cllr Suqlain Mahmood, substituted by Cllr Sobaan Mahmood and Cllr Bassadone, substituted by Cllr Colette Wyatt-Lowe


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -


(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent


and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial


(ii)           may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members


[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]



The Chairman confirmed that in relation to agenda item 9, she is Board Member at Dacorum Sports Trust.


Councillor England confirmed that he used to be an admin for a leisure facilities and not for profit, which was a pressure group around the time of the tender.



Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements or ask questions in accordance with the rules as to public participation


There was no public participation.


Consideration of any matter referred to the committee in relation to call-in




Youth Connections update pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Additional documents:


K Haswell and R Brown presented the update on YC Hertfordshire to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. 


Cllr Pringle asked how vulnerable people were identified.  K Haswell advised that they are identified through various agencies, including Social Care and Targeted Youth Support, Police, GP’s, schools and colleges, self-referral.  We work with young people with LDD, care leavers, young carers, BME and travellers.  Referrals can come from any agency that works with us.


Cllr Pringle asked if staff were aware of and trained in various autistic spectrum disorders, including how to identify pathological demand avoidance.  K Haswell confirmed that they have a learning disabilities team, which all the personal advisors are trained and we have staff who run create a spark programme who are trained to the level they need to be to recognise certain traits in young persons.  Also all those young people will have an allocated personal advisor to work with in tandem with professional range worker that runs the programme.  The programmes are designed to work with young people that have different additional needs.


Cllr Pringle asked if a person is suspected of having an unidentified condition is there a facility to refer them for additional help.  K Haswell said they would go back to the Learning Disabilities Team and talk to the personal advisor for any Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) has been turned down, we would put forward a recommendation that it was reassessed.  Also as part of our statutory work on the advice and guidance side we provide all the preparation for adulthood part of the EHCP, so we will meet with the young person, we take into consideration their views and the views of the parents/carers.  We prepare a legally binding document that is assessed and put into the EHCP as part of that document.


Cllr Hollinghurst queried the support provided to Tring and asked when this was going to be addressed and how can the offer be improved in schools which are academies.  K Haswell confirmed that they work in Tring School and offer information, advice and guidance in a preventative service, we do a lot work with young people and then include them in the local youth offer.  We do detached work in Berkhamsted and Tring on a Friday night and we often work with young people on the streets, we run street projects.  As far as working with another organisation in Tring that would be through Tring School.


Cllr Hollinghurst said that it leaves Tring Town Councils contribution through the Temperance Hall out on a limb and quite a lot of public money has been invested it in, so could you broaden the offer in Tring to include the Temperance Hall.  K Haswell said she would be happy to discuss this separately to see if there is anything we can do, but couldn’t promise anything due to budget pressures.


Cllr Pringle mentioned that The Swan Budget in Berkhamsted has a great reputation and is well valued by parents and children,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.


Homeless Reduction Act Update pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:


N Beresford presented the update on the implementation of the Homeless Reduction Act and asked the Committee for questions.


Cllr England said congratulations on this work, it’s really important, people in highly stressful situations that maybe they didn’t expect.  Cllr England added that the report is percentages within percentages, so 80% of 60% were vulnerable people which means 48%, so about half of people coming through the doors are vulnerable. They are coming to us with a problem and we need you to help, the Homelessness Reduction Act has absolutely been a culture change and there has been more caseload, you are dealing with a lot so keep it going.


Cllr Pringle asked about the high proportion that are vulnerable does not translate into high needs for housing, clearly vulnerable people are very highly represented in that group, do they need assistance and early intervention before it gets to that stage.  In particular you mentioned a number of agencies that are not joined up, does that include social services, education, CAMHS, NHS, etc.  At what level is there responsibility for ensuring that these are joined up and these interventions are put in place before people actually get to this stage.  N Beresford said that you were right, the level of vulnerability isn’t necessarily borne out in the vulnerability in relation to housing, so the vulnerability around complex behaviours, drug and alcohol misuse or mental health, is aside from any other vulnerability in relation to the client have fled domestic abuse or having a financial vulnerability or have been subject to exploitation, it’s very separate.  There are a whole other traits that we are having to deal with.  In relation to joined up, it’s all of those agencies that proves very challenging for us on a daily basis, there is a high proportion of our clients that are crossing all of those services at any one time, so when a client comes to make a homeless presentation there is a very high likelihood that they will have been a history of rent arrears, engaging with ASB team, have come across the Community Safety Unit or the Police, it’s a particular challenge.  We have tried to engage with the agencies and we have worked quite hard to try to achieve that, the reason the Mental Health Sub Group was set up with the support of Cllr Tindall, was because we had difficulties in actually getting Adult Care Services and Community Mental Health to consistently attend our Homeless Forum and to this day they do not.  We have excellent core support from the voluntary sector agencies, but trying to get other statutory agencies involved and engage is very challenging.  A lot of that is due to resourcing and the challenges of managing a client base, because we have the same challenges here, in terms of managing increasing caseload with the same numbers of staff. 


C Thomas added that we’ve only been in place since the beginning of the year but we’ve made some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.


Osborne Year 5 Review pdf icon PDF 531 KB

Additional documents:


A Mortimer and I Prendergast presented the Osborne Year 5 Review and asked Committee for any questions.


Cllr Freedman queried that there was no benchmarking on qualitative measures, for example, how many repairs fixed first time and stakeholders saying when a job is completed or not.  Also the number of calls falling so drastically they must be doing quite well.  I Prendergast confirmed that the measures for first time fix is about 87%, which is above the national average and the target set KPI for the contract which is 81%.  All those performance measures are coming in on target.  Customer satisfaction with the repairs service at the moment is 98%, the customer will get an aftercare call the moment the repair is closed down by the operative on the PDA and this is total customer care, you will find out if the job was actually finished, it wraps up everything with the customer.  Extra measures being considered is including a level of competence interval, which does not happen at the moment and gives us some certainty about the range of that 98%, but also to be recording on the level of satisfaction on a scale whereby we continue to improve the service. 


Cllr Freedman asked if there was anything on refused jobs, what happens if tenants call up and say I would like a plasma screen TV installed and we say no, are those numbers already included in the statistics or have they been filtered out.  I Prendergast confirmed they are still in the core statistics as they are straight off the telephone lines, so they can’t tell what the call was about. 


Cllr England raised concerns about Carrillion and these large contracts, pricing themselves to a very precarious position, so as we are a stock holding authority, does that make us attractive as a contract to win, sufficiently attractive that we are at risk of being in that goldilocks position where we are wooed by a bid that is fantastic but turns out to be made of glass.  I Prendergast said it’s a problem round the entire benchmarking operation because you want to be overall in the middle ground, because that’s probably the safest ground to be in, you don’t want to be in the ground where there is a big risk with the contractor.  We are on open book with the contractor so we can see what’s happening, we have a gain share as part of the contract, which is being somewhat considerable, almost £2.5m that we shared in gains from the contract.  This contract is also making money but delivering value to our client base that’s where it needs to be, we don’t want to be squeezing the contractor so that he’s going to fall over.  Osborne are very sensible contractor, there’s a lot of cheap bids out there in the market at the moment.


A Mortimer added that’s one of the things with how the contract was marked and awarded and continually scored, is the fact  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


Sports Strategy and Physical Activity Action Plan pdf icon PDF 361 KB


The Chairman mentioned that she needed to make a couple of comments, this has been a topic of great debate, Scrutiny in conversation, of which she was one of the main voices in, and she will have to declare an interest that she is on the Board of Dacorum Sports Trust, who are one of the local sports providers, who will be affected by some of this.  After some quite lengthy conversations with the CEO of Dacorum Sports Trust, The Chairman was pleased to report back that she, as of this year, has been very happy with the action plan meetings and very much felt that she was, and a number of other providers, were effectively on the project board and they felt that they had a good opportunity to challenge and scrutinise and their input was valued, so I would open up with that.


The Chairman said that as a preface to the item, an email was circulated earlier to Officers and Members by Councillor England, after reviewing some of the contents of it, the Chairman felt that some of it was inappropriate in terms of the language.  While Members have to robustly scrutinise, we do need to remain professional and polite, when dealing with each other and dealing with Officers.  In particular the Chairman referred to the spreadsheet that was attached where work was referred to as being lazy, super nebulous, waffle and fodder and that’s aimed at Officers that us as Members have never met.  The Chairman said she knows we have not met them because it’s the first time they are coming to this Committee and they are quite new to the Council and it also indicates that Members have arrived with pre-conceived ideas before presentations have met, and that’s not the way to make new Officers feel welcome or to give them the kind of confidence they need to effectively deliver their reports and to answer any questions that we raise during the Scrutiny.  The Chairman said in light of that, she would call upon Cllr England to withdraw his comments and tender his apology at this meeting please.


Cllr England said he would like to clarify how that happened.  Certainly it wasn’t his intention to leave in the comments which were in the spreadsheet.  Cllr England said he did ask for a copy of the official spreadsheet, because it would have been far easier for me and I think others to measure their reflections on what they were looking at and unfortunately that wasn’t possible, so what I did instead as my method, was recreate the spreadsheet.  Cllr England didn’t offer this as a defence, but it did wind me up the fact that I couldn’t just get a read only copy of the spreadsheet, save it as my version and then use it as my work pad to be set my thoughts down.  So it’s possible that I was in a state of relative agitation when I was putting the comments down, but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Anti-Social Behaviour update pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Additional documents:


L Warden presented the update on anti-social behaviour.


Cllr Hollinghurst asked who a person should contact if they see drug dealing taking place.  L Warden confirmed that the Police should be contacted in those circumstances, we would recommend the 101 non-emergency number or report it to the local safer neighbourhood teams and they will have that on their radar in terms of gathering intelligence.  We do have a form on our website for reporting anti-social behaviour and we would recommend people to use that for anything and if it’s something we can’t deal with we will pass it onto the Police when we have our monthly multi agency meetings.  The meeting looks at specific cases and is an operations meeting with the Police, drug and alcohol organisations, other housing providers and housing staff.  That intelligence is gathered at that stage and passed to the Joint Action Group who operate at a more strategic level.  We would definitely recommend any residents to report any issues that they are experiencing with residents or neighbours or in the community because that information allows us to build a better picture of what’s happening out there and work out what resources we need to put in what places to try to help resolve them. 


Cllr Pringle said that quite often anti-social behaviour is generated by domestic abuse where the party who’s being abused doesn’t wish to take criminal proceedings or has other reasons for example being in fear and where the tenancy is in the name of the suspected abuser is there a mechanism for the tenancy being transferred to the victim. Also if there is recognition of this as an issue and if there is a way of resolving it.  L Warden replied that we have to deal very sensitively with any potential domestic abuse situations that are going on within the home.  Where we get complaints from neighbours about an incident that’s taking place. Where the perpetrator is a tenant our tenancy agreement does allow us to take appropriate action, which may include serving notice and asking them to leave the home.  We will need to provide evidence and we need support from the victim to be able to do that.  We would not normally look to remove one person and give the tenancy to another party, we would end that tenancy entirely and we would then take it on a case by case basis, the individual who is the victim would be linked to a support worker or one of the external agencies that deal with supporting and empowering victims.  It might be that particular property is not suitable for them anyway and they may be offered new accommodation elsewhere.  Maybe putting them in a temporary refuge, might be something we would offer to help, but it would be on an individual case by case basis, as there are a lot of complexities and we also identify some people don’t wish to come forward so we may have complaints about issues going  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 121 KB


The Chairman confirmed that there will be a meeting with Officers in July to update the Work Programme