Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny - Wednesday, 3rd March, 2021 6.30 pm

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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting




********************************************************************************************************Before the meeting began a minutes silence was held by the committee, in memory of Cllr Graham Sutton who sadly passed on Saturday 27th February 2021.




The committee agreed that the minutes from 1 December 2020 were an accurate record.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence



Councillor Adeleke informed the committed that due to commitments he could only attend until 7:30pm.

Apologies were received from Councillor Hollinghurst.



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]



There were no declarations of interest.



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




Budget Monitoring Q3 report pdf icon PDF 264 KB

Additional documents:



The chair had received two request on rearranging the agenda items. It was agreed by the committee that the agenda items would be taken in the following order:

Item 6, 7, 10, 8, 9 and then item 11.



F Jump introduced the report, for recommendations that the committee note the financial position for the Council for 2020/21 as at quarter 3.

The report outlines the financial position for the Council for 2020/21 and in so quantifies the financial risk associated with service decisions, which are expected to be made for the financial year.


F Jump was happy to take questions from Members.


Cllr Adeleke said that as the report was prepared beforehand, are there any changes to the budget. He asked if there are any changes or effects on the current situation.


F Jump said no, there was nothing surprising in respect of the council’s budget; she added that there would be more of an impact on 2021-2022 budget. She added that she would be in a better position to comment next time.


Cllr England referred to the HRA – there’s a surplus due to COVID19 delays. To what extent is there cost and efficiency to when we do catch up? Because we will then have more cases. Has this been quantified at all?


F Williamson said that they had been doing some work to re-profile some of the project works, and they have had the opportunity to look at areas to address the building safety bill and the climate emergency. She said that Mark can give you an update on the work that they have been doing with the energy savings trust.

Whilst they haven’t been able to spend the allocated budget this year it has enabled them to look at these two critical areas. The budget has been re-profiled accordingly.


Cllr Mahmood in terms of COVID19 when do we expect Osborn’s and others to be back to full working shifts. He asked if we are still in under spend mode for the next three months.


F Williamson said in respect to the proposal we are following the Governments road map.

The Team have met with Osbornes today to plan and review the delivery of the next financial year.

The only work that remains completely suspended are Kitchens and bathrooms due to the length of time it takes and it can interrupt the water supplies. We need to maintain good hand hygiene and limit the amount of trades going in and out.

We are hoping that we are able to return to business as usual next year; this will be incorporated into the plans.

F Williamson confirmed that we are taking day-to-day repairs and its business and usual.



Cllr Mahmood asked what was in place to check Osborne for COVID19 so we can get them out to work.


F Williamson said that this week they have started Lateral flow testing on all of their staff. They will be required to have tests twice a week. This is to reduce  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Q3 Performance Report - Children Services and Community Safety Partnership, Customer Services, The Old Town Hall, Communications and Community Partnerships pdf icon PDF 678 KB


M Rawdon introduced item 7 highlighting that the papers will provide an update on service performance over Q3 2020/2021 and also highlighted key achievements over this same period.


M Rawdon was happy to take questions from Members.


Cllr England referred to 3.5.5 the communication figures; he notes that the figures are difficult to judge, he asked how this compare with last year?


L Roberts said that we do not know tonight but she will get clarification from Kelvin.

Action: L Roberts to speak to Kelvin


Cllr England welcomed the figures and said we need to see how well we are engaging on what the Council see as the top 5 important issues.

We want to find out as a Council if our channels are being used by people.

It would be very useful as we go forward with these figures to identify those issues that we know have been important in the last period and to see how well we have engaged on those.


Cllr England also asked what the plans for the website are?


L Roberts said there are two different things, one is content and one is platform. The platform they will be looking at as part of a digital strategy that they are working on.

They have relied a lot more on digital offerings through the pandemic so they are looking to see what that means going forward.

They anticipate the work to take place between now and the summer and they will come back with any propositions.


Cllr Mahmood said that the elicits were good and informative, it gives us a good picture of who is keeping in touch with the council.  Not for a response here, but in the future we need to see how our housing service is going digital.


Cllr Mahmood referred to the Old Town Hall which has nearly been closed for a year. Are we expecting the Café to open with the recent announcement?


M Rawdon said that they are working on a road map like other services to re-open safely.

They are looking at the infrastructure needed around streaming live show etc to broaden their audience; in terms of the café re-opening it will be part of the road map.


Cllr Mahmood highlighted an observation. A lot more people are going to Gadebridge Park, and asked if we could publicise the Old Town Hall.


Cllr Barry refereed to 3.1.1 its brilliant that people have been able to provide food for those that need it. She asked how DBC are checking if these organisations have the relevant safeguarding DBS checks, food hygiene rating and First Aid. Not just, for where they prepare the food but if they have an understanding of it.


M Rawdon said the people that are delivering those services, one being Dens which they are heavily involved with and the other being Youth Booth. M Rawdon said he would come back to the committee on that.

Action: M Rawdon


J Banks added to that, and confirmed that environmental  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Q3 Housing Performance Report pdf icon PDF 236 KB

Additional documents:


F William gave an update on the Q3 report. She updated the committee on the performance and progress of the Housing Service Q3 2020/21.


F Williamson was happy to take question.


Cllr Bassadone ask if we had figures of how many people don’t want to go in sheltered accommodation, and asked if it was because they are all one beds? She also asked about the properties in Kings Langley, the bedsits?


F Williamson said she could provide members with the data they have been doing analysis on the sheltered schemes. In terms of empty properties at the moment it varies from week to week.

F Williamson said she can provide the figures for the demand on each of the schemes.

She expressed that there had been low demand for the two-bed scheme as well as others at the moment. A lot older people are fearful of moving under the current circumstances/restrictions and after the vaccines; they may be inclined to move.

ACTION: F Williamson to provide data



Cllr Mahmood said, with the key-to-key timings, not being able to do the work inside the houses, should be concentrating on that a lot more to reduce the times. Could we utilise the empty homes a lot more.


F Williamson said that they have been increasing the number of suppliers that have been working on empty homes, and Osborne have taken on two other sub-contractors to provide support. She expressed how they still had to work under COVID rules, which does mean they can’t have as many working internally. Which is increasing the time to complete works.



Climate Change update

Update via power point presentation


M Gaynor introduced the report and provided Members with two presentations.

The presentations were circulated to Members after the meeting.


M Gaynor was happy to take questions from Members.


Cllr England thanked Mark and said that there was a lot of good information in there, to go away and process a bit more.  He said that there are a few instant reflections. It looks like  we face lots of barriers and he recognises that why we are were we are, But is worried that already 20% of the time we had to prevent the 1 degree increase on global temperature has already gone. So 1/5 of our time has already elapsed. We do not seem to have been able to get anything off the launch pad.

He said that is he right in thinking that both of the case study examples are 10 years old now. There good examples of what are capable and he accepts that, but he is worried that since 2019 we haven’t put a flag in the ground with a project that is going to help us address the climate emergency.

He asked if there is an opportunity to put in a programme of insulating lofts of floors with this saving share that you talked about? He asked what are we doing to share our point of view and what are we doing to show that to government to get them to solve the problems and barriers.


M Gaynor said that they are working across Hertfordshire with other authorities, which there are four, that are stock holding and there is influence through the chartered institute of housing who do get the hearing with government. He stated that the government does know the changes in which it needs to make it’s just been a difficult time over the year.

He added that it would cost a lot more than 12 million to get the homes of the UK insulated.


In terms of projects that aim to have zero carbon, the pledge that the Council have made is for 2050 he stated that we simply can’t do this any quicker. He added that we have proved the energy efficiency of our homes and any of the poorest categories will be moved first


F Williamson said that we are able to influence other areas. We are members of the Association of Public Sector Excellence.

She added that they have been undertaking some trials on alternative heating technologies.


Cllr England asked how significant is the right to buy problem for us? How much does it affect us to tackle whole blocks.


M Gaynor said that it’s always best to deal with a whole row of terrace houses in terms of access and effectiveness to deliver the whole lot. What would be good is what we did at Seaton Road, to offer it at cost. This would speed up the process but it does make it more difficult as a lot of the homes which are sold under the right to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Youth Proposal paper

Julie will provide a statement to the OSC but the paper itself is no longer required.


Cllr Banks read the following statement.


‘..Following the presentation of the Youth Provision reserve fund paper last November in which officers presented a range of options to allocate the reserve to various projects to engage with young people. Officers and I took away, and have worked on members observations & recommendations that we could develop a wider consultation of young people and the organisations that represent them. This developed paper was due to come to you this evening. However, in light of the ever changing world we find ourselves in with regard to this COVID pandemic, the lockdown, coming out of lockdown etc. I have asked officers to reconsider how this fund can be used to address the early evidence now emerging with regard to the wellbeingness and indeed mental health of young people emerging from the pandemic.


It is clear that outdoor activity is going to be the first to open and is the safest place for people of all ages to interact. With that in mind and from feedback from fellow councillors and residents, I have asked The Communities and Wellbeing Team to work with the Parks and Open Spaces Team to identify infrastructure investment in existing play spaces which will have a longer lasting impact on wellbeing than time framed projects. To that end, a report will be going to Cabinet in due course, following due process for the spending of the Youth Provision reserve money…’



Cllr England asked if this paper would come to OCS?


Cllr Banks said that it’s an expensive provision to equip open spaces and that they are not sure what we will get for our money. If there are projects that come forward the process would normally go to Cabinet and members are welcome to come in on that. 



HRA Business Plan pdf icon PDF 518 KB

Additional documents:


F Williamson provided Members with an updated of the HRA Business Plans and explained the issues and assumptions, which required consideration, including the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The report is to update members of the Housing and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the content of the Business Plan and assumptions that have been made in the financial model, investment strategy and the ongoing development pipeline.


F Williamson was happy to take questions on the report.


Cllr Mahmood asked for clarity, we talked about climate change and the money that comes from the HRA, do we invest it back into properties. He asked if that is where we would got a lot of our money from for climate change and carbon, or will this come from somewhere else. Apart from grants?


F Williamson said that we have made provision within the business plan for capital investment in the current stock and as well as the component replacement. There is provision for energy efficiency measures and also for building safety bill as we know each of these will have financial implications.

She said that we may benefit from money that is not currently within the forecast within this business plan i.e. external funding that we may receive. They have secured some grant funding through the Greater South Eastern Energy Hub and are awaiting clarification of when this will be received.

F Williamson said that the Affordable Homes programme, the new affordable homes grant scheme which is administered by homes England will open in April and that will run from 2021-2026 and provide us with the opportunity to make bids for grant funding to supplement the new build programme.


Cllr Mahmood asked if we are looking at digitalising the housing market and managing the risks, he said he has been doing a lot of work on this and doesn’t see it happening in the housing department, yet it’s happening in the construction industry and suggests it’s something worth looking at for the future.


F Williamson said that they have been looking at building information modelling for the new build, so they can have 3D models. In terms of data they have been looking at power BI and considering other suitable technology that can be used to support the data we hold on the stock.


Cllr England thanked F Williamson for the report and said when do you think we will begin to see the component in the HRA Business plan, which shows how we are trying to drive some of these projects to increase insulation and put new systems into properties.



F Williamson said that the focus for next financial year is a couple of the sheltered schemes and some additional loft and external insulation. Once the full programme is identified, she is happy to share that with Members.


Cllr England asked if she was ready to get good positive communications on these initiatives. He said that it is vital that we need to prime people to take the climate change  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Action points pdf icon PDF 332 KB