The report on pages 17 – 26 was presented by Chris Seman.
Members thought the response rate of the survey was good and commended the service on this. On Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Councillor Redsell questioned why it was the complainant that had to keep a log of ASB incidences. She was concerned that this would cause issues for the complainant and also questioned whether the Council’s contracts with tenants needed updating. She also mentioned that there were fly tipping issues and untidy gardens and that tenants needed to look after their properties. Carol Hinvest said that residents were required to bring forward issues of ASB with evidence to enable enforcement action to be taken. She explained that the service had standard agreements in contracts with tenants and that terms and conditions for tenants were also available online for all to view. Councillor Redsell requested to discuss individual cases of ASB offline.
Councillor Worrall commented that the survey was good and in-depth and that the service needed to target themselves to do better. She thought people would wish to see actions arising from the survey and asked whether the survey would be undertaken annually. She suggested that once lockdown restrictions eased, Officers engage with Ward Councillors to narrow down where ASB hotspots were so the service could look to do better to improve the quality of neighbourhoods. She said that parking permits would not always resolve parking issues as most roads were not ideal to hold two/three bedroom houses and that smaller roads were backed up with cars parking on kerbs. She asked whether the service could look at more cuttings or more hardstandings and if this could come from the HRA or another budget that was needed.
Carol Hinvest answered that the service had been around the Borough to view ASB hotspots and could engage with Ward Councillors on this. She stated that the service worked with the police and other organisations to tackle ASB including more serious ASB such as drug offences and that the Neighbourhood Officers also patrolled the Borough to identify issues in areas which they then reported to the relevant department e.g. most recently, a sinkhole issue. They also monitored the quality of the neighbourhoods particularly in areas where there were no caretaking services. It was hoped that the survey would be undertaken annually but a sample survey would be taken the next time round to ensure statistically relevant results where progress could be measured. She said that benchmarking helped the Council to identify places that were better than Thurrock and how Thurrock could learn from these places to enable Thurrock to become better.
Noting the figures on Repairs and Maintenance, Councillor Abbas asked what the service was learning from these figures and how the service could improve. He also mentioned that he had heard from tenants that some repairs were not handled well. Carol Hinvest explained that a survey was undertaken each time a repair was completed and that monthly meetings were held with contractors particularly more with Mears as the service’s biggest contractor. Where there were dissatisfied tenants, contractors would follow up with these tenants and the service would undertake Learning Action Plans with contractors. It was identified that communication was where most of the issues arose from. She went on to say that the survey results from this report related to general repairs and that the survey undertaken after a repair was completed was different with higher figures as a result. From this survey, the service would learn from the results to identify what learning was needed and whether processes needed to be changed.
Members suggested that a working group could be set up with Mears as Members would be able to help resolve issues. It was said that it would be good for Members to see Mears in action. Officers said that the service could arrange for visits to Mears and Members to meet the General Manager of Mears. Officers would consider options for Members to interact with Mears.
That the Committee noted and commented on the report.