Agenda and minutes

Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 9th September, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: This meeting will be held virtually online and can be watched live via

Contact: Wendy Le, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 357 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 16 June 2020.



Councillor Redsell mentioned that there was a repetition of her questions within the minutes.


Subject to these amendments, the minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 16 June 2020 were approved as a true and correct record.


Urgent Items

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no items of urgent business.


The Committee discussed the option of holding the next meeting in a hybrid setup which was agreed.


Carol Hinvest announced that Roger Harris, Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health would be leaving his post in March 2021 to pursue other interests but would be attending the next few meetings of Housing Overview and Scrutiny until he leaves. The Committee praised Roger Harris on his hard work to the service.


Declaration of Interests


For item 7, Councillor Redsell declared a non-pecuniary interest as some of the garages mentioned within the report were situated in her ward, Little Thurrock Blackshots.


Housing Development Programme Update pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Additional documents:


The report, which can be found on pages 21 – 28 of the Agenda, was presented by Keith Andrews.


Councillor Abbas raised concerns in the way that the sites listed had been identified for development. He felt that a map should have been attached to the report to highlight where these sites were as well as the sizes and the red line boundaries as mentioned in the report. Referring to the Aveley Hall, he sought clarification on the development plans and the nine units listed as potential capacity on the site. He also noted that an indication for potential expansion of development had been given for Richmond Road where the Thurrock Adult Community College. He was concerned that the services from the college would be removed and sought clarification on the development plans for that site.


Keith Andrews explained that the red line boundaries had not changed and the infographics for the sites had been included in an information pack for Committee back in February 2020 when the item had been heard. The information pack could be brought back to Committee again if required. Some of the sites had been renamed for better transparency following Members’ advice but the red line boundaries had not changed. If there were any changes, the process would be to bring these back to Committee.


In regards to the Thurrock Adult Community College, Keith Andrews said that there was no suggestion of a loss of the facilities on the site. There was potential to make the site more accessible and if this was the case, there would be a consultation process to follow which would then bring the site forward for redevelopment.


With regards to the Aveley Hall, Keith Andrews explained that the Housing Team would only become involved and have more details if the site was made available for development. If it became a housing project, the service would then look to provide affordable housing through that site. Councillor Abbas felt that Aveley Hall and Thurrock Adult Community College on Richmond Road should not have been mentioned on the site list if there had been no plans in place. He went on to say that there had been concerns on the sites from local residents who worried the facilities from the sites would be removed.


Carol Hinvest explained that the concerns of what would happen to the Thurrock Adult Community College would be better to be directed to the Education Team who managed the college. She went on to say that the sites in the list was listed if anything was to happen to those sites and that Councillor John Kent had raised the query of the college to the Corporate Director of Children’s Services who was aware of Members’ concerns. The site had been mentioned in the report because if the Thurrock Adult Community College was to move, the site would then become bigger than it currently was. However, the site mentioned in the report did not currently include the land that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Housing Service COVID-19 Response - Update pdf icon PDF 186 KB


The report, which can be found on pages 29 – 40 of the Agenda, was presented by Carol Hinvest and Ben Tovey.


The Chair questioned what the rent arrears were for the current year and how these compared to last year’s. Carol Hinvest explained that the rent arrears for the current year was a lot higher compared to last year’s and that the current year was the highest it had ever been. She went on to say that it was uncertain how future rent arrears would look particularly when the Government’s furlough scheme ended. The service was currently part of Housemark, a benchmarking organisation and there was a predicted rise in rent arrears from October after the Government’s furlough scheme ended. The Rents and Welfare Team were working hard to identify cases and referring people for support where needed.


Referring to the nine households that had moved from temporary accommodation without the Council support in the homelessness section of the report, the Chair questioned whether the service was still in contact or providing services to those households. Ben Tovey answered that some of those had been released from prison and had come to the Council for support but three of those cases had reoffended and was sent back to prison. One had reunited with family and two had found their own accommodation. One case had moved into Southwark and was being housed by Southwark Council and supported by St Mungos and Thurrock Council continued to support that person. There were two people who rejected the offer of temporary accommodation but one came back for support and the service was unaware of the other’s whereabouts. The service was still in contact with three of those cases to ensure there were support plans in place to prevent them from becoming homeless.


With housing rough sleepers, the Chair felt that there had not been enough engagement between the Council and private landlords on this issue. There were not enough housing associations to house those who were homeless and 50% of the homeless in Thurrock had been placed out of the Borough. He asked what plans were in place to ensure better engagement between the Council and private landlords to house the homeless and where they would be housed. Carol Hinvest answered that the service continued to build and develop relationships with private landlords and housing associations and that there had been a Housing Association Forum before where housing associations had met with the service. Keith Andrews added that the service worked hard to engage with housing associations and that in housing association developments, there were issues of sales values and the prices of house values that were constructed within the Borough which were much lower than London. As a result, housing associations were not as active in Thurrock although they provided support in general needs, the provision of supported housing was tougher. Carol Hinvest also said that the service was currently developing a joint housing project between Children’s Services and Adults Social  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Garage Project Update pdf icon PDF 494 KB


The report, which can be found on pages 41 – 48 of the Agenda, was presented by Carol Hinvest.


The Chair commented that most of the Borough’s garages were not storing cars and the main purpose of garages were to keep cars off roads and pavements. However, the Borough’s garages were too small to store today’s modern cars and the question was whether to use the garages for cheap storage solutions or to turn them into affordable homes.


Councillor Redsell agreed and said that the better option would be to demolish the garages and build parking spaces in place. She went on to say that anti-social behaviour occurred behind garages as people could not be seen behind the garages. She queried whether the painting of the garages would be undertaken by Mears and that the painting should not be over another layer as it would cause the layers of paint to peel off. She went on to say that garages tended to be used to store items other than cars and in some cases, there had been hazardous items stored which resulted in a fire. Carol Hinvest explained that a plan was in place that outlined which garages would be demolished and which ones would be repaired. The Stock Condition Survey had identified which garages had a future; could become parking spaces; or needed refurbishment. Most of the garages were too small for modern cars and some residents stored their bicycles in the garages instead. There were a number of sites that were already on the housing development list which had previously been garage sites as well.


Councillor Redsell suggested that the service speak with Ward Councillors on garages within their wards. Carol Hinvest agreed and encouraged Members to speak with the Housing service of any other garage sites that could potentially be developed for council housing or other ideas for use.


Lynn Mansfield pointed out that the Council was still letting garages out and most were used for storage purposes. Carol Hinvest explained that the service was aware that garages were rented for storage purposes and the issue was what was stored in the garages. It was acknowledged that the garages were too small to store cars and there was a Garage Tenancy Agreement which highlighted that nothing combustible such as gas canisters could be stored in the garages.


Councillor Worrall questioned if there was an income from the let of garages and if this paid towards the garages project or if there were reserved funds for the project. Carol Hinvest was uncertain from a revenues point and would ask for business case to be put together and circulated to the Committee. She went on to say that the garages were the Council’s assets and some funds would need to be used to maintain them to prevent them from falling into a state of disrepair or being fenced off due to its unsafe structure. The Project Manager for the garages project was looking at which garage sites could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 24 KB


The work programme was amended as follows:


  • HMOs in the Private Sector was added with a date to be confirmed.
  • Annual Allocations Report was added to 17 November 2020.
  • Tenant & Leasehold Satisfaction Survey Results and Action Plan was moved to 19 January 2021.
  • Fees and Charges was moved to 19 January 2021.
  • Key Performance Indicators was added to 17 November 2020.
  • Removal of Gates in Accommodation Complexes was added to 17 November 2020.


Councillor Worrall asked that the Fees and Charges report cover any cuts to be made in Housing. Carol Hinvest explained that the Fees and Charges report covered the Housing General Fund only. She went on to say that there were no foreseen cuts yet and if any were necessary these would be covered within the HRA Business Plan report due for the meeting on 19 January 2021.