Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny
Wednesday, 9th October, 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 2019 and 03 July 2019 were agreed as correct and then signed by the Chairman.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies were received from Cllr Suqlain Mahmood and Cllr Freedman.  Cllr Mahmood was substituted by Cllr Sobaan Mahmood and Cllr Stevens substituted for Cllr Freedman


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 Barry confirmed that her mum had recently taken on a role within Supported Housing and Cllr Bassadone confirmed that she was a volunteer for DENS.




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 Old Town Hall - Service Update pdf icon PDF 63 KB


M Rawdon introduced the item and handed over to S Railson and S Fairthorne to give the presentation.  Questions on the presentation were as follows.


Cllr Hollinghurst questioned how the contract bar worked, did people give a sum of money to you as a privilege of running it or do you have to pay them to take it on.  Also does it run at a loss or a profit for DBC.  S Railson replied that in the past we have had an external operator who paid a rental to the Council.  As we’ve been running it in-house for the past few years, since the last external operator walked away, we’ve found that because we set the prices for the product, we’ve been in a position to look at our outgoing spend is, staff and purchasing stock and then we’ve been able to look at our mark-up.  We’ve got to a position where it’s almost break even, that’s just running it ourselves but it does take a lot of time, so Stuart has to rota the bar staff, order the stock, so it’s one of those needs must at the moment.  When we went out this summer with a tender, it was similar to the tender put out in 2015, when we had one response to it, this summer we have had nil response.  Part of the reason is that it’s in the High Street but it’s not obvious, you have to come into the building, you have to go upstairs, you have to go through the doors, so it’s not directly obvious that there is a business there.  Also the Old Town is one of the busiest environments for pubs and cafés and restaurants.  Whilst we were disappointed that we didn’t get anyone to take it on, it actually has forced us into thinking about how we run it ourselves, what are the changes we can make to improve the service.  We would like to see a service that is being run throughout the day that then changes into an evening refreshments service for the shows after 6pm.  Again it’s staff heavy and will require the resource and management of it, were not caterers first, we are arts directors, marketing people and it’s not our natural roles, we’ve done okay and we will probably have to do okay for a little bit longer.


Cllr Hollinghurst asked about the boiler replacement and if the land at the back of the building, which is Council owned, could be used for ground source heat pump coils under the ground, completely unobtrusive and it would give you some background heating so that might be able to get away with a smaller boiler.  S Railson said that she hadn’t thought of that and it might be worth having a conversation with our colleagues in building services and facilities management to discuss the idea, it’s not my area of expertise, so conversations will be required with staff who are more experienced and skilled in that area.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.


Performance Review of Total Asset Management Contract & Gas Installation and Servicing Contract pdf icon PDF 536 KB


A Mortimer presented the report and asked Committee for any questions.


Cllr Adeleke queried the Sunrealm Contract where they have 24 hour emergency service, the contract says if there is a problem they will make it safe within 24 hours, so what happens to the accommodation, will the tenants be without.  A Mortimer confirmed they would respond within the 24 hour period and where there is a need there is a more rapid response time, if they are unable to repair the boiler, they leave electric heaters, so they would not be without heating, if possible if there is a facility to use the emersion heater, there will be hot water.  Cllr Adeleke asked if there could be an additional line to show that something will be provided in those circumstances.


Cllr Adeleke asked about the DBC share of 50%, is this a typing error, on Q3 you have 97,456 and 50% is 19,000.  A Mortimer confirmed there is a typo and will need to confirm on that figure.

Action: A Mortimer to provide corrected figure.


[After meeting note]


The typo was a missing digit as the gain for Q3 should have read £197,409.56




Total gain for period

DBC Share @ 50%


Apr - Jun 2018




Jul – Sept 2018




Oct – Dec 2018




Jan – Mar 2019








Cllr Adeleke asked about apprentices for Sunrealm and Osborne and whether they were local.  A Mortimer advised that both contractors try to extend it to the local environment to bring on the apprentices.  With Osborne figures you see the make up of staffing, how much is local, which is primarily secured through local job fairs and schools.


Cllr England mentioned that he believed that Osborne and Sunrealm have a better performance level than the previous contractors, so that’s a vote of confidence as long as it continues to be the case.  Cllr England asked about the 50/50 split when they beat a target cost, are we obliged to spend our 50% with them and recycle that back into what they get paid.  F Williamson confirmed we have the freedom to spend it elsewhere, in the spirit of the contract, the intention was that we would reinvest but because of the timelag for the audits to take place, we are working to a quarter in arrears and therefore especially at year end that money is then reinvested in the following year.  If there are higher priorities around other areas for investment such as compliance it may be that it is invested elsewhere and not within the Osborne contract.


Cllr England asked if we still used an independent cost consultant or do we just use the same one.  A Mortimer said that for this exercise we just used the one independent cost consultant but as part of the five year review we did use more than one.


Cllr England queried the KSI’s and if they were challenging they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74.


Supported Housing Service Update pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:


O Jackson provided the Supported Housing Service Update and questions arising were as follows.


Cllr Bassadone asked about the 400 people on the register who are over 60 not actively bidding and wondered if this was because they were waiting for a two bedroom properties or a specific property, so what is the under-occupation of our EPD’s at the present time.  N Beresford confirmed there are 6,500 people on the housing register and we’ve just had the annual report, so across the housing register last year only 829, across all client groups bid for accommodation, which means nearly 90% aren’t actively bidding. There is a piece of work we need to do to identify whether or not there is a genuine housing need and to understand why people aren’t bidding for accommodation.  We don’t believe that it’s in respect of people trying to target two bedroom accommodation, all of those on the housing register predominantly have a need for one bedroom sheltered accommodation.  There are some who require two bedroom accommodation due to medical needs, but they are identified through adaptations process.


Cllr Bassadone asked what the current percentage of EPD’s are vacant.  N Beresford will need to provide that information as she doesn’t have that currently.  There is a weekly cycle for advertising and she will email you the figure, but it’s relatively low in respect of stock in comparison to the numbers waiting for accommodation.

Action: N Beresford


Cllr Hollinghurst said that over 6,000 people are on the housing register and 90% of them are not actively looking at any one time for a property, there could be very many reasons for this of course, if someone is in tied accommodation or it’s likely in the medium to long term to come to an end, they would perhaps early on the tenancy put their names down on the waiting list.  N Beresford advised that anyone who is currently active on the housing register can only be active if they have an identified housing need, so if they have accommodation that’s available for their continued occupation, they wouldn’t be deemed to have a housing need, so couldn’t be active on our register, so their application would be rejected.  Currently we have 6,500 people on the register all with an identified need, that could be under-occupation, overcrowding, a medical or mobility need to move to an alternative property.  Everyone who is currently active has an application that’s been assessed against the Policy and has a need to move, but of that there is a significant proportion that are not proactively taking steps to move from their current home. 


Cllr Hollinghurst asked if there is anything we do for people in tied accommodation.  N Beresford confirmed that if someone is living in tied accommodation and they are able to continue to live there and it’s suitable, but if they are given notice to leave that accommodation, then yes we would support them to look at alternative accommodation.  Social housing or private  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.


The Elms Contract pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Additional documents:


N Beresford and O Jackson presented the report and asked Committee for any questions.


Cllr England asked if the contract on The Elms had been similar to the contract to Osborne or Sunrealm that we would have awarded them additional years on the basis on the years that they’ve performed so far.  N Beresford said that there had been no contract breeches or issues but the type of contract we have with this building is very different, one of the reasons that a five year contract was issued for this building was the pace that the world of homelessness and services is moving at the moment.  It was felt this was a timely break in terms of the contract.  The provision is in extremely high demand, homelessness is continuing to grow significantly, rough sleeping has doubled in Dacorum, it’s not reducing and so we really need to ensure that the service that is being delivered is meeting the current requirements and as it stands at the moment, the contract that we have, isn’t fully reflective of some of the good practice tools that central government would be expecting from a local service to be delivering.  We are continuously having to add and flex and work with other partners to bring in additional resources.  That’s why we’ve been successful with rough sleeper initiative funding this year, because we have a limitation in the current services that are being delivered.


The Chairman wanted to know what additional resource you are having to bring in.  N Beresford said that as a local authority area we are one of the districts across Hertfordshire that up until recently hadn’t had any street outreach functionality, that put us in very high focus from central government, that means that outreach functions when they are needed are undertaken by internal staff who aren’t trained in delivering outreach functions, typically Homeless Officers or Housing Officers working with support of Anti-social Behaviour Officers and PCSO’s or partners from other agencies, often they are paid on an overtime basis or working flexibly to enable them to deliver those services.  We need in isolation street homeless counts and we ask other local services, like DENS, to put on enhanced daily services to support some of those initiatives and we work continuously in conjunction with our partners through the Homeless Forum to look at what additional support they can give to homeless clients.  In the past year that’s meant that we have bid for and been successful for additional cold weather funding to enable us to put on enhanced package of support, which includes transport to and from the Night Shelter, additional meals in the daytime and provisions for clients that we are working.  More recently that’s also led to us being successful with the rough sleeper initiative funding, which does now mean that we will have dedicated outreach workers and a community drug and alcohol worker engaging locally with our rough sleepers.


Cllr Griffiths said that it’s important to remember that The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 76.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 124 KB


Cllr Griffiths would like to change the Voids report to Empty Homes report.

Action: S Turner to inform Member Support