Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex RM17 6SL
Contact: Jenny Shade, Senior Democratic Services Officer Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk
The Chair welcomed officers, members, and co-opted member to the committee. Stated that three items had been added to the work programme on Value for Money, Right to Buy Receipts Refreshed and links between Mental Health and housing.
Members agreed to “walk about” visits over the summer period to look at those estates with higher complaint levels and those with higher compliment levels.
Members agreed to a visit to Mears office.
The Chair stated he had spoken with the chair of the Planning Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee to work alongside the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee in regard to a task and finish group to look at the delivery of private and housing stock in the borough.
Members agreed that a standing invite to all Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committees should be sent to the HealthWatch Chief Operating Officer.
ACTION 1 – Democratic Services to work with Officers on suitable dates/times and locations for walk about and Mears visits - Democratic Services, Ryan Farmer, Mohammed Ullah
ACTION 2 – Democratic Services to liaise with Officers on the terms of reference, activity plan and the assignment of officers for the task and finish group. Democratic Services
ACTION 3 – Democratic Services to share the terms of reference with the clerk of the Planning Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Democratic Services
ACTION 4 – Democratic Services will invite the HealthWatch Chief Operating Officer to the remaining of the Housing Overview and Scrunty Committees. Democratic Services
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 7 March 2023.
The minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on the 7 March 2023 were approved as a correct record.
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. To agree any relevant briefing notes submitted to the Committee.
There were no urgent items of business.
Declaration of Interests
Sue Hodgson declared an interest in that she served on the Mears Panel and received expenses.
Members noted the terms of reference.
The report provided an update on the council’s performance on ensuring that Houses of Multiple Occupation were licensed in accordance with Mandatory Licensing scheme as stipulated under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004.
A PowerPoint was presented to Members and can be found from the following link:
Following the presentation the members discussed the following:
- The committee noted there was an imbalance and evidence that more should be done to deliver properties for smaller households or one person households. To look at the growth of E / G properties to offset the financial burden of having smaller properties that were not paying the same amount as larger properties. Officers agreed to take away and work alongside planning and regeneration colleagues, to apply influence for the need for one-bedroom properties and how possible it would be to make the planning process for HMOs more difficult.
- Members raised concerns on how the number of HMOs had increased over the last five years.
- Members requested the inclusion of eastern wards of the borough when the renewing of the additional HMO licensing scheme took place and to expedite where possible.
- Members were informed that recognised IT systems were used.
- Members were informed a review of the current system that would form part of the evidence file for the new scheme was scheduled to come into play next year.
- Members raised concerns on staff resource within the team and were updated that vacancies would be filled by August.
ACTION 5 - Officers to work alongside planning and regeneration colleagues to deliver smaller households or one person households. Dulal Ahmed, Keith Andrews
1. That the Committee noted and commented on the report.
2. That the Committee noted the local household need for 1-bedroom properties in the borough has increased in line with Thurrock’s population. Officers agreed to take away and work alongside planning and regeneration colleagues, to apply influence for the need for one-bedroom properties and how possible it would be to make the planning process for HMOs more difficult.
3. That the Committee noted the Private Housing would produce a new business case to extend its Additional Licensing Scheme for another 5 years covering the whole of the borough.
This report presented the procurement of the repairs and planned maintenance work with finances for the delivery of these works being allocated within the HRA 30 business plan. Members were informed the recommendations fit within the objectives of the Thurrock Improvement and Recovery Plan 2022 for the Council to be a more streamlined and financially sustainable council.
During the discussion the following was acknowledged:
- The chair had concerns on how the report did not have the analysis or evidence base required to demonstrated what was undertaken on the last contract, such as performance, value for money and satisfaction to be able to compare with as to why the report recommended the new direction.
- Concerns were raised on the current level of service, poor management, poor due diligence and engagement of providers named in the report.
- The chair questioned the level of on-going compliance control to which he was informed there was a central compliance team in the housing directorate.
- Comments were made that contracts should stipulate the extend of spend within the borough for materials and use local suppliers.
- Comments were made on how the inspection of work undertaken and contractors’ performance would take place and how this should be built into contracts.
- Members were informed of survey results for contractors as satisfactory with an overall target of 85%, a comment was made that every target should be 100% satisfactory and there needed to be more accountability of the work undertaken.
- There was concern from members that too much sub-contracting was taking place and control of those works were not being controlled.
- Members agreed to establish a working group for members to consult, inform, influence, and oversee the procurement process of the procurement process.
- Members agreed to add a further recommendation that there would be an expectation for the working group to complete its task by the end of September 2023.
- Officers to share detailed plans, with key milestones, for the procurement process with the members of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
ACTION 6 – Democratic Services to liaise with Officers on the timeframes, terms of reference, activity plan and the assignment of officers to this proposed working group. Democratic Services, Keith Andrews
ACTION 7 – Detailed procurement process plan to be shared with members. Mohammed Ullah
1. The Housing Overview & Scrutiny
Committee recommended the formation of a working group to consult
with officers and experts with a view to producing a detailed
report in advance of the procurement of a domestic and commercial
gas servicing, breakdown, repair and installation contractor and to
determine the most beneficial length of contract.
2. The Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended the formation of a working group to consult with officers and experts with a view to producing a detailed report in advance of the procurement of a domestic and commercial gas servicing, breakdown, repair and installation contract repairs and maintenance (including communal and external decorations) contractor and to determine the ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
The report examined the benefits and operational risks of bring the hostel management service in house as the current contract was due to end in September 2023.
During the discussion the following was highlighted:
- Assessment of capacity to bring in house would need to be considered.
- Saw this as an opportunity to integrate more services, share experiences and skills.
- Officers stated the services would be brought in house in its entirety with a complement of staff, not setting up a new team but to inherit the team that had successfully been provided by the current provider. The current provider had a proven concept with no overspends.
- Members were given the reassurance that during any transition period the services would not be scaled down.
Members agreed that a visit to Brooke House be organised.
ACTION 8 – Democratic Services to liaise with officers on a member visit to Brooke House. Democratic Services
At 8.37pm, the meeting went into exempt session.
At 8.56pm, the committee resumed in public session.
Members discussed the work programme.
The Chair requested an item be added on the Complaints Systems.
ACTION 9 - Democratic Services to update the work programme with the above item. Democratic Services
ACTION 10 - Democratic Services to re-circulate the Garages Update briefing note. Democratic Services
ACTION 11 - Officers to prepare Lowen Road, Local Lettings Policy Briefing Note. Ryan Farmer
ACTION 12 - Officers to prepare Headstart Housing Briefing Note. Ryan Farmer
ACTION 13 - Blackshots - Officers to ensure the steering group/working group, at ward councillor level, is set up. Keith Andrews
ACTION 14 - Blackshots – Officers to share a detailed plan with key milestones at Housing Overview and Scrutiny committee level and share with members. Keith Andrews
The recording of the meeting can be found from the following link: