Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny - Wednesday, 21st July, 2021 7.30 pm

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


The minutes from 16 June were agreed and signed by the Chairman.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Cllrs Durrant, Mahmood and Tindall sent their apologies for the meeting.  Cllr Ransley substituted for Cllr Tindall



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]



Cllr Bassadone declared that, in relation to Item 7 on the agenda, she has a family member who works at the Elms.



Public Participation

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





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





The Elms Contract pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Additional documents:


F Williamson presented the report on the performance information and The Elms proposed contract arrangements and asked Members if they had any questions.


Cllr Freedman commented he was very much in support of The Elms and renewing the contract on 1+1 basis as it seemed a logical and reasonable approach.  He wanted to flag up that if we change suppliers it is quite a risk, Dens is very good at building its brand across Dacorum as a whole and that he would worry that any new supplier would be seen as a Hemel only offer.  Cllr Freedman asked how we would ensure that any tender would look at how we could include that part of it.  F Williamson said that the points made were very valid, Dens have a very good brand awareness and the hostel is managed properly.  F Williamson added that any future procurement would include the brand awareness and that any new organisation would work across all of Dacorum.


Cllr Adeleke said thank you for the report, that he was in favour of the proposals and he had two questions.  Cllr Adeleke asked about the KPI’s on page 27 mentions eight self-referrals and wondered if they were from Dacorum.  Also would the original installer of the cladding be responsible for any compensation.  F Williamson replied that self-referrals can be anyone who is in crisis and they present themselves to Dens independently as opposed to through the Council’s Homelessness Service.  They can be an out of area presentation and sometimes they are from within the Borough.  F Williamson confirmed that in respect of the cladding, we are working with the Fire Safety Engineers, the original contractor and the Dacorum’s internal team, looking to reclaim some of those costs from the main contractor.


Cllr Pringle echoed the comments of the previous Councillors about how much they appreciate the work that Dens has done building relationships in our communities, especially during the pandemic. At the beginning of March 2020 lockdown when Cllr Pringle was contacting her constituents in Northchurch, Dens was supporting those who needed it so it does reach into our communities. 


Cllr Pringle asked about the fire safety precautions and whether there was adequate measures in place.  F Williamson confirmed that there are a number of measures in place, we’ve been working very close with the Fire Service who attend our fire safety meetings.  We have a Fire Safety Strategy for the building which is operated by Dens and this has been reviewed by the Fire Service.  The building is flagged in respect of the material used for the cladding and they would provide a double response in the case of a fire.  CCTV monitors the external parts of the building and it does have a full fire alarm in place, plus two staircases.  F Williamson added that in respect of anyone in the building with mobility issues, they have a personal evacuation plan and they are placed on the lowest level of the building as possible.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Syrian Refugees pdf icon PDF 245 KB


M Peters updated the meeting on the latest with the Syrian Refugee Project and to consider the longer term housing options, once Indefinite Leave to Remain is obtained.  M Peters asked if Committee had any questions.


Cllr Bassadone said that on page 45 it mentions families one and family four are in receipt of PIP and she wanted to know what PIP is.  M Peters confirmed that it was Personal Independent Payment which is for people with disabilities.


Cllr Pringle asked if it would be fair to say that the families have been through an ordeal, been through some awful experiences and whether there are any additional needs, for example the children requiring mental health referrals from trauma and are they getting the help that they need.  M Peters advised that yes we have victims of trauma.  The schools have been fantastic in meeting their needs, the children have been having talking therapies, also the Tenancy Sustainment Team is still heavily involved and Officers have built up a repour and trust, which is rare with authority and people from Syria.  One of the first conversations you have to have is that you don’t need to fear or bribe people in authority, building those relationships takes a long time.  Disabilities in Syria is very much taboo, so to admit you have a mental health problem is very difficult for them, but we are getting to the point where we can discuss it with them so that the help can be put in place.


Cllr Adeleke said thank you for the report and all that you are doing for the Syrian refugees.  Cllr Adeleke remembered the first time this was discussed, it was thought best not to publicise this for security reasons and wondered if that was still the case.  Also when the refugees arrive do they have any financial means, at the end of the five years, if they apply and are successful in obtaining Indefinite Right to Remain, do we continue to provide moral and financial support or do we leave them to stand on their own two feet. 


M Peters confirmed that in regards to their safety, we have been very successful, before they arrived we did our research, selected a property and worked with the Community Safety Team and the Police etc in relation to making sure that the area is safe for the family.  We have not had any hate crime or any adverse reaction to their resettlement and they have settled into the neighbourhood very well and their neighbours have been very accepting.  There have been some issues in Watford but we have put measures in place to ensure that doesn’t happen here.


M Peters advised that the support we have been providing in the first five years is funded by the Home Office and we receive annual funding for each of those families.  In terms of the support we provide, if they receive Indefinite Leave to Remain, they will continue receiving state benefits or continue  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Action Points pdf icon PDF 118 KB


The Chairman said that the majority of them are completed.  The fuel and grants action, HC/016/21 and HC/030/21, has been completed but not updated on the action plan.  HC/026/21 is in The Chairman’s draft box and will be sent.  HC/028/21 is outstanding.  HC/028/21 needs Cllr Pringle to send photos to Matt Rawdon.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 144 KB


The Chairman noted the Work Programme.


The Chairman requested that staff are informed that we commend and thank them for their hard work and that we do recognise that they stand out against neighbouring Council’s, they are always proactive and ahead of the curve in all that they do.