Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions
Contact: Kenna Victoria Healey, Senior Democratic Services Officer Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 1 October 2019, 29 October 2019 and 14 January 2020
The minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 1 October 2019, 29 October 2019 and 14 January 2020 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.
There were no items of urgent business.
Declaration of Interests
There were no declarations of interest.
The Chair of the Committee Councillor Worrall explained that a number of questions had been put forward by residents and with this in mind, she was going to move that the item be heard first.
She continued to explain that due to the number of questions submitted, there was to be a time limit of 30 minutes; to ensure that as many questions were answered as possible. Should anyone not get to ask their question, Officers would provide a written response.
Question from Alexandru Andonie
Why were 2 sites Culver Fields and Callan Grove deemed suitable for development and put up for tender before the Housing Development Process was agreed?
The Housing Development Manager explained that preparatory work on these sites pre-dated the process agreed at January Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee. He continued by adding they had not been put out for tender for construction nor had any decision been made on development.
Question from Tricia Campbell
Have Thurrock Council ignored their priorities which resonates to “People” theme in particular “Communities are empowered to make choices and be safer and stronger together” by not given its residents the power of opinion which involves living space?
The Housing Development Manager advised the Housing Overview and Scrutiny report and the Cabinet report started the process of communication. He continued by saying the report was clear there will be engagement with residents on a site by site basis. This would also be supplemented by the formal consultation process required should applications be submitted for planning approval.
Question from Wayne Joseph
What support packages are in place from Council to enable the local residents to manage their mental health after losing a peaceful tranquil environment?
The Interim Assistant Director Place Delivery commented that the impact of any planning application on the local community would be considered as part of the planning process as individual sites are brought forward. This would include consultation with those responsible for the provision of Mental Health support, as appropriate.
Question from Councillor Shinnick
With 600 new homes already being built in Ockendon along with the 300 vans that were highlighted in Buckles lane that Ockendon has absorbed within its community without any additional schools, doctors dentists etc. What criteria was used to highlight the community spaces that are being used by the community to be built on.
The Interim Assistant Director Place Delivery explained the criteria to identify a range of potential development sites was set out within the Cabinet report "Housing development process" presented on 15 January 2020.
The Interim Assistant Director Place Delivery then addressed the Committee explaining at the 29 October 2019, Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Members had been asked to comment on the proposed process and criteria by which Council owned sites were selected for redevelopment for residential purposes. Subsequently, Cabinet had approved the approach set out, on 15 January 2020
He continued to outline that the report followed the criteria established by the Cabinet and set out a list of site options ... view the full minutes text for item 30.
The Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health and Interim Director of Children's Services presented the report and in doing so, outlined the performance framework for the Housing Department and explained the context of the full range of indicators, which now included the Housing Performance Scorecard as performance measures. It was highlighted the report covered performance between April 2019 to November 2019.
The Investment Planning & Performance Analyst addressed Members explaining that for this municipal year to date there had been a significant improvement in overall tenant satisfaction with Housing services with 74.8% of the 1287 tenants surveyed rating the service as excellent or good. Members heard this equated to an improvement of 8.5% in comparison with the comparable period in 2018/2019.
He continued by highlighting the Key Performance Indicators for Housing Performance of which the following areas had reached or superseded the target of 75%; general satisfaction of tenants with neighbourhoods / services provided, rents collected and average time to turnaround / re-let voids; the latest turnaround of a void was completed in 19 days.
Councillor Redsell enquired as to whether Officers were on top of any rent arrears and queried if Housing Officers were working with Officers in the Council Tax Team. The Committee were advised that the number of evictions had decreased for the year and this was with the help of the Finance Inclusion Officers who were very proactive within the community.
The Housing Tenants Representative enquired as to whether any checks were undertaken before the voids were offered out to residents, as there were still repairs to be completed. Officers explained that any repair work on voids was managed by the voids team.
Members discussed Council Housing being offered to people moving into the borough. The Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health and Interim Director of Children's Services advised the Committee that the Council Housing Policy was clear in that residents must have lived in the borough for 6 years, have a family link and have work within the Borough. Should this not the case and Members knew of any cases where Housing had been offered to anyone moving into the area, then it should be reported to Officers as this was fraud and would be investigated.
Councillor Worrall queried what the percentage of complaints was in figures. Officers commented that complaints upheld remained on target and was consistent with upheld complaint levels in comparison with 2018/2019. It was agreed that Officers would email the Committee with the complaint figures for the Housing Department.
That the Committee notes and comments on the report.
Councillor Worrall sought the Committees agreement to suspend standing orders; so that all business on the agenda could be discussed. This was agreed by the Committee.
The Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health and Interim Director of Children's Services introduced the report informing Members that it set out the proposals for the procurement and contract packages to ensure the successful delivery of the Housing Capital Programme.
He further explained the key priorities for the Housing Capital Programme for next 5 years, was the continuation of the property refurbishment through the Transforming Homes programme and the external refurbishment of nine tower blocks in Grays.
Members heard how the refurbishment of kitchen and bathrooms of Council homes was near to completion. Following this the Council was due to go out to tender for the external refurbishment of tower blocks cladding and windows.
The Chair of the Committee sought as to the type of tender the Council were to complete. It was confirmed that an open procurement exercise would be undertaken, where a number of contractors would be able to apply.
Councillor Worrall further asked how Officers were planning to get the best deal possible when it came to costs for completing the works. The Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health and Interim Director of Children's Services commented the Councils existing contractors had a very extensive social value offer for example apprenticeships and working with local schools. He continued by confirming this would continue with the new contract. Councillor Worrall welcomed this and stated that it was the Social Value Programme who cleaned the War Memorials in the borough.
It was remarked by Councillor Redsell that the tower blocks in Blackshots Ward were built in the late 1950s/1960s and it was not just external refurbishment that was needed; she commented the flats had mould issues due to condensation.
RESOLVED the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Members were requested to note and comment upon:
1. The procurement of two major works contract packages for the delivery of the Housing Capital work programme as set out in the report
2. The procurement of two contract packages to provide strategic support and cost management of the Housing Capital Programme as set out in the report
3. Authority being delegated for the awarding of the above contracts to the Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Housing.
The Committee discussed the work programme ahead of the new municipal year. Members agreed to a number of reports being included on the Work Programme.
That the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed for the following reports to be included on the Work Programme for 2020/2021
· Housing Strategy Update
· Social Value Framework
· Housing Development Update