Agenda and minutes
Homes and Environment Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 2.00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber, Guildhall
Contact: Craig Stevens Scrutiny Facilitator
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors David Maddocks and John Phillips.
The Chair welcomed Councillor Ronnie Prince to his first meeting as a Member of the Scrutiny Committee.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 13 February 2019
RESOLVED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 13 February 2019 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Head of Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/27/19s) to assist Members in agreeing a list of potential scrutiny topic areas for the next 12 months and possibly longer term.
In introducing the report the Scrutiny Facilitator drew particular attention to paragraphs 4.1 to 4.4, which highlighted the changes made to the Work Programme arising from the last meeting and proposed future changes.
During the debate the following proposals were agreed:
· That the report and site visit in respect of ‘Council House Voids’ be considered at the meeting on 10 July 2019. The report to include information with regard to Housing Lettings.
· Residents Parking Task and Finish Group to report to the June 2019 meeting.
· That an information report on development regarding glyphosate and its usage will be provided to Members of the Committee this month.
AGREED – That, subject to the aforementioned, the work programme as attached to the report (HF/27/19s) be agreed.
To consider the report of the Lead Member for Place - Housing
The Lead Member for Place – Housing submitted a report (HHE/04/19s) allowing Members to consider the current issues and limitations which impacted on the delivery of the Environmental Improvement Scheme which was funded by the Housing Revenue Account and was approved by the Executive Board in March 2017; the report also provided an update on progress with implementation of the scheme, following the creation of a new team to manage the delivery.
The Property Investment Lead gave a detailed presentation which provided further information in relation to:
- current issues and limitations which impact on the delivery of the Environmental improvement schemes
- project compliance with the approved scheme; and
- an update on progress with schemes following the creation of a new team to manage delivery.
During the debate, the Head of Housing and Economy responded to Members questions accordingly and the following points were noted, in particular:
· Environmental Improvement Schemes is funded through the Housing Revenue Account in agreement with tenants and funding is approved as part of the HRA Business Plan agreed by Council.
· Each scheme was considered on its own merit and must satisfy the legal use of HRA funding as well as meeting the approved scheme criteria.
· Some concern from Members regarding the level of subjectivity that would need to be applied when determining schemes against the criteria. Members referred to the importance of ensuring consistency in terms of the schemes selected for inclusion. Officers confirmed that whilst the scheme required a level of determination, sufficient checks and balances were in place and an independent assessment was made by internal Audit.
· Confirmation that the external works programme for WHQS sat alongside the Environmental improvement scheme and this allowed for wide ownership of the scheme going forward.
· A restructure of the Housing Estates Team was currently taking place to allow greater visibility of staff within communities and to foster improved relationships between the estate management teams and tenants.
· There had been a period of under investment in external works over a number of decades and consequently major refurbishments were taking place at part of the WHQS programme.
· Acknowledgment that it was more difficulty within rural areas to identify schemes that would solely benefit tenants given the dispersal of social housing units.
· Confirmation that schemes would not be progressed without prior approval from the relevant ward Member. It was also noted that funds remained with the relevant ward and there was still time to identify and progress schemes.
· Concern from some Members that step 1 within the procedure for delivery of the Environmental Programme (Appendix 3 to the report HHE/04/19) was not always followed. The Head of Housing and Economy stressed that the procedure was used purely as a guide in terms of a process to follow for the delivery of projects. He confirmed that the Estate Manager would continue to consult with Local Members beyond March and that the programme notes would be revised accordingly.
· The Head of Housing and Economy agreed to send a reminder ... view the full minutes text for item 48.