Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny
Wednesday, 4th September, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

Items
No. Item

56.

Minutes

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting

Minutes:

 

The Chairman advised that the minutes need to be amended to include some additional comments that have been made and they will be circulated for approval.

 

57.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Arslan.

 

58.

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]

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

59.

Public Participation

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

Minutes:

There was no public participation.

60.

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

None.

Minutes:

None.

61.

Quarter 1 Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

F Jump presented the Quarter 1 Budget Monitoring Report and asked Committee for any questions.

 

The Chairman confirmed that Cllr Williams had mentioned that the agenda was becoming quite large, because there was a lot of business to be done and we must stick to questions that relate to the agenda items.  If there any additional areas that you want to discuss please contact me as the Chair and we can table it onto a future Committee.  The comment wasn’t aimed specifically at this group but just Members in general.

 

Cllr Mahmood queried how long the garages have been on the agenda and wondered whether this could be taken forward.  Cllr Mahmood wondered if there is an opportunity to sort them once and for all.  F Williamson advised there was an action plan and we want to ensure performance is optimised.  We are currently part way through a stock condition survey and we will be able to look at our investment strategy.  Aligned to that is the disposals programme, where the Council started two years ago disposing of garage sites.  We have a future programme of disposals and we are trying to ensure we maintain the occupancy of those garage sites up until the point we have a firm offer.  We have had a number of sites where offers have fallen through which have obviously delayed the sales process and we have had all of those garage blocks void during those periods.  In terms of our approach there are various things that we have now introduced into the system and we are looking to advertise and promote the garages, we have just appointed a new officer who has started in post, they are working through an online lettings process, which is similar to Choice Based Lettings.  That will enable people to express an interest and we can look at demand for certain sites.  The aim is to have a complete purge of all of the void garages to get them advertised and from the demand and stock condition information we will be able to rationalise the use of those garages that we can get to virtually full occupancy, looking at the some sites for disposal.  We are not just looking at open market disposal for development but for other opportunities such as potential use for allotments or self-build projects, so we are now considering wider opportunities that could benefit the community. 

 

Cllr Mahmood asked if we had looked at the option of building garages that are more suitable for modern day cars.  F Williamson said that we have looked at this, we have obtained quotes for new modular garages that are larger and have more capacity for the larger modern cars.

 

Cllr England said that one of the first questions he had asked three years ago was whether there was a stock condition survey for the garages, at the time he was told that there wasn’t one and he was told that in 2014 a number of sites were identified  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Quarter 1 Housing Performance Report pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

F Williamson presented the Quarter 1 Housing Performance report and asked the Committee for any questions.

 

Cllr Friedman said that the split out between general properties and adapted/special and queried if the target for general homes turnaround time more aggressive than it was six months ago when it was a combined target.   F Williams advised that the general needs has remained at the same target, so it’s not any more aggressive, but we do monitor any exceptions to the average times.  Tracy Vause and Alan Mortimer, Tracy works on the allocations side and Alan works on the works time, so progress during the empty homes refurbishment works.

 

Cllr Friedman mentioned at the last meeting we were talking about voids, mainly the sheltered and adapted and now that the information appears to show that the general has been the problem.  You said that you have plans to tackle that and asked for more details.  T Vause advised that they had been split out and we have identified that general needs does tend to be the one that we are struggling with meeting the targets.  We are reflecting true key to key times within every figure that we’re reporting, so from the moment that the property becomes void and comes back to us, until the day we sign up a new applicant.  We are looking at every area where we can find some improvements, so looking at advertising properties before they are void, advertising properties for three working days and then working through shortlist to quite strict targets.  We always come across different issues, sometimes we have to go down to the 17th or the 18th person on the list, for a number of reasons with the allocations, but we try and do multiple transfer visits for every property that’s being advertised, so that we are getting as many applicants ready for a potential offer.  That increases the workload for Alan’s Lettings Officers because they have to do more visits.  We are looking at different workstream reviews that we can do to improve each element of the process.  Alan is working very closely with the contractors to reduce the amount of time that the keys are onsite with the contractors having works completed, because until they are back with us, we can’t sign up the tenancy.  We have made lots of changes to the Policy last year with regards to refusals, to try and reduce the amount of refusals that we are getting through because they cause significant delays where we have gone all the way through the process for someone to then turn it down when the property is ready for viewing.  We are looking at all areas where we can mitigate any quick wins that we can do to reduce the timeline of keys.  

 

Cllr England said that the idea of stripping out the adapted was because we knew that they were skewing the figures, but it sounds as if we still have outliers which are dragging up  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

Quarter 1 Children Services and Community Safety Partnership, Customer Services, The Old Town Hall, Communications and Community Partnerships Performance Report pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

M Rawdon presented the quarter 1 performance report for the services he manages and invited questions from the Committee.

 

Cllr Barry asked if the 3 D pitch at Grovehill was open to more than just the adventure playground.  M Rawdon confirmed that it will be open to children for free play and available for people to hire, we will be looking at appropriate fencing and how best to manage with a better booking system and codeless entry, which seems to be the most effective way of managing it while still keeping as much of the income as we can.

 

Cllr Barry mentioned that the turning is pretty awful when you turn into the Adventure Playground and wasn’t the sports track was going to be moved there but it was not suitable.  M Rawdon confirmed it was one of the reasons but the level traffic will be a lot less than hiring out a sports pitch, although there will be increased visitors he didn’t think it would be significant traffic.

 

Cllr Adeleke said that the Adventure Playgrounds appear to be in Hemel Hempstead but there is no provision in areas like Berkhamsted, Tring and outlying areas, all the reports seems to miss out these areas.   M Rawdon replied that we have the facilities in Hemel Hempstead and we look to improve them and run them as best we as we can.  We have inflatable pop ups in other areas, which are children events.  We are looking at it but it is difficult as the Playgrounds are located in Hemel, but point taken, obviously residents outside of Hemel are just as important.

 

Cllr Adeleke advised that about 5 or 7 years ago he raised the same questions and would it be appropriate, through the Chair, to ask if we can have Youth Activities to support outer Hemel areas on the Committee over the next months or year.   The Chairman said that she will liaise with the Directors for timetabling and feasibility of that.

Action: The Chairman

 

Cllr Adeleke suggested that the Old Town Hall marketing scope included plans to attract Members and Staff to events so that we can help advertise what’s going on there.  It would be good to know what you can do to encourage Members and staff to attend.  M Rawdon mentioned that there is a report coming to the next Scrutiny Committee and it will set out some of the challenges and ideas, but we can include marketing ideas.

 

Cllr Bassadone enquired about the problems with the splash park but they’ve been sorted out now and asked when it will close.  M Rawdon mentioned that it was not his area and he would find out from Dave Austin, he believed the maintenance issues had been sorted out and he will refer back to Dave as to when it closes.

Action: M Rawdon

 

[After meeting note:The splash park will be closing for the autumn/winter break on Sunday 29th September 2019.]

 

Cllr Mahmood asked about gang and knife crime  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020 pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A Care introduced the Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020 report and A Smith presented on the details of the events/projects and asked Committee for any questions.

 

Cllr Douris confirmed that he attending as the HCC Cabinet Member for education and localism and he is the county lead for the Herts Lifestyle and Legacy partnership.  It’s being led by Hertfordshire Association of Cultural Officers (HACO) and looking at what’s been presented both verbally and in the paper, he thinks that Dacorum have done a splendid job in developing this so far.  Cllr Douris met with the two lead officers from HACO to talk about the involvement of Town and Parish Councils and all the various levels of public participation across the county.  Cllr Douris said he was very pleased to hear what we are doing in the presentation and he felt this is an exemplar of what’s been done and he will be very interested to see how the other local authorities prepare their efforts.  Cllr Douris mentioned that Cllr Banks is the lead Member for the Year of Culture for Dacorum along with Alex and Annie and he said he was very pleased to be associated with it.  We will be looking at an event to start the year and part-way through the year and then an event to round it off.  The year of physical activity was a huge success and we aim to build on this and make it even better.

 

L Roberts mentioned the approach to the work and that Annie had brought a lot of vigour and enthusiasm which we are very grateful for and has given us these ideas but effectively will then turn an action plan, so we are mirroring the approach to sports and leisure, this is the other side of the health and wellbeing, which is cultural.  We will be adapting a similar approach and will be monitoring it in the same way.

 

Cllr Adeleke was very impressed with this initiative and he looks forward to it.  The first question was asked if there were plans to have a proper timetable of events so that Member can get involved in events in their area. The second question is that we have the cycle tour and other events, is there going to be an event where we can have something big for the town to do at the end of the event, will something be put into the plan where you can have a big community event, where perhaps the Mayor can open it, bring some feel good factor to the town.  Third question is for the Portfolio Holder, as the Member Champion, please can you explain to us your role and interaction with Members.  Cllr Banks replied that her role is to support the officers to deliver a fantastic year.  A Smith said that in response to question one, the programme of events, there is also going to be a County programme board, so there is a lot of countywide events and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

Housing Strategy pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

L Warden introduced the Homes for the Future Housing Strategy 2019-2022 and asked Committee for any questions.

 

Cllr England mentioned it was a good coherent document but in light of the climate emergency motion there is nothing included about climate emergency, perhaps commitment 3 could be slightly adapted to accommodate that.  L Warden confirmed that we have been having discussions at the moment in relation to what we as a Council can do to move forward to address some of the issues with the climate emergency.  In particular in Housing there is a few key areas in relation to materials that used, how we look at new developments, etc.  There is definitely elements as part of this which will take that into account, and those will probably come through some of the other strategies, but we can definitely have a look at this and see if there are elements that could be included. 

 

Cllr Griffiths mentioned that it would probably be more in the repairs and maintenance and new build policies, as you know we have done Summer Court, the biomass conversion of the boilers, solar panels that we are putting in, the extra insulation or cladding for various homes across the borough.  It is something that the department is very conscious of and something that we are working on, but it’s like a lot of other things, it has to be fed into the complete mix to give a complete picture, rather than just going off on a different tangent. 

 

Cllr Hollinghurst asked in considering our Housing Strategy have we given any thought to accessibility to the houses, from the houses and services and would that be reflected in specific proposals to support public transport.  L Warden said that one of the key commitments is managing disabled adaptations, that’s the physical getting in and out of the property, and asked if Cllr Hollinghurst was talking about the wider infrastructure.  Cllr Hollinghurst said the wider infrastructure.  L Warden confirmed this was planning, when we are looking at new developments we work very closely with the Planning team in relation to accessibility, it’s not something that we specifically focus on in housing, that tends to be more the planning and community services.  The focus tends to be the services within the estates and in particular the physical aspects of the homes and the tenants that live in them.  Cllr Hollinghurst said that in Aylesbury they have put a lot effort into this with bus networks and the Silver Rider etc where you have access of buses into the estates, which doesn’t allow for other traffic and they are very popular.

 

Cllr Griffiths mentioned that the Aylesbury Plan, that is really what’s forecast, that sort of connections, for the new Community Gardens Plan in the distant future, but on the scale of developments that were doing and our housing stock, we do not have the concentration or the money to do that side of things. 

 

Cllr Bassadone advised that it was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Minutes:

The Chairman confirmed that following meetings with Officers, items had been included in the work programme, but there is still some availability in January. The Chairman requested that Members email her if they have any agenda items they would like to be included