Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Housing Panel
Monday 16th April 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

Contact: M Lowe Email: democracy@welhat.gov.uk 01707 357443 

Items
No. Item

61.

SUBSTITUTIONS

To note any substitution of Panel Members in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19 – 22.

Minutes:

The following substitutions of Panel Members had been made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22:-

 

Councillor S Markiewicz for S. Glick.

62.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors S. Glick and K. Holman and Independent Representatives R. Paris and S. Smith.

63.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 March 2018 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 6 March 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

64.

ACTIONS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Report of the Executive Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which lists the actions from previous meetings and their current status.

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Panel meeting on 5 March 2018 in the report of the Executive Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.  Members requested feedback from the letter sent out in respect of Gas access to property information.

 

65.

UPDATE ON NEW BUILD PROJECTS - FURZEN CRESCENT AND GARDEN AVENUE AND POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN THE BOROUGH

Presentation by the Head of Community and Housing Strategy and the Principal Housing Development Manager providing an update on the new build projects and potential development opportunities within the Borough.

Minutes:

Members received a presentation on the Affordable Housing Programme, which provided an update on the Council’s new build properties.  The presentation illustrated the following:-

 

Furzen Crescent – Lilac Close which showed the 7x2 bed housed at social rent and all properties had been let to families on the Council’s register.  Members were pleased with the built quality and design.

 

Garden Avenue – Lime Tree Court; this site was the former redundant and vacant garage site and now had 22 new 1 and 2 bedroom flats for rent plus 1 fully adapted wheelchair 2 bedroom unit.  Members commented on the safety issue and it was clarified that the footway was sufficient for a wheelchair and a child’s buggy.

 

Northdown Road – the four separate blocks for four bedsits were still in the construct stage and the site will have 16 new 1 bedroom flats for rent.  The Officer explained that there had been issues with the original construct and rodent infestation.  The issues were being addressed through the new build scheme.

 

Little Mead – the contract was awarded in April 2018 to FSG Property Services ltd to construct 7 new homes 3 x 2 bedroom and 4 x 3 bedroom houses for rent.  The officer explained that discussions were underway with an aim of achieving completion this financial year.

 

Members were advised that there would be a further update at the next meeting.  Clarification was sought the following points:

 

·         How far in advance these were new build properties being let? Officers explained about the delays and that some tenants were prepared to wait a little longer to obtain a quality new build.

·         Members requested a unit cost of the new build.

·         The need for more 2 bedroom properties and the requirements for 1 bedroom dwelling for single people.

·         Requests for bungalows where people were downsizing – still a need for 2 bedrooms.

·         Substandard repairs and build being brought up to a good reasonable standard before properties were let.

·         Noted the demand for housing and that nearly all properties were being let.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the presentation be noted and a further update be provided at the next meeting.

 

66.

HOUSING TRAINING FOR MEMBERS - HOMELESS REDUCTION ACT AND HOUSING ALLOCATIONS/BANDING SCHEME

Presented by the Head of Community and Housing Strategy.

Minutes:

Members received a presentation by the Head of Community and Housing Strategy on the Homeless Reduction Act and Housing Allocations/Banding Scheme.  The following points were covered:

 

·         Housing Allocations – legal context

·         Amendments by the Localism Act 2011

·         Members of the Armed Forces and the Reserve forces

·         Allocation Scheme – reasonable preference

·         Council’s Scheme

·         Homeless Reduction Act – help cannot provided if not homeless

·         Key changes under the Act, everyone in the local housing authority’s district should be able to aces free information and advice.

·         Assessments and personalised hous8ing plans

·         Duty to refer which will come into force in October 2018

·         Communication and Joint working with other housing authorities – countrywide.

·         The key statistics and the how the challenges would be met.

·         Use of bed and breakfast accommodation – which was being managed.

·         Other issue that trigger homelessness included was domestic abuse.

·         People often moved due to caring roles in the community.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the presentation be noted.

 

67.

WELWYN HATFIELD TENANTS PANEL SCRUTINY SUB-GROUP REVIEW OF THE REPAIRS CALL CENTRE pdf icon PDF 209 KB

Report of the Tenants Panel Chairman setting out the review undertaken by the Tenants Scrutiny Sub-Group of the repairs call centre service and proposed recommendations which they hope will lead to improvements that will benefit both tenants and call centre staff.

Minutes:

Report of the tenants Panel chairman setting out the review undertaken by the Tenants Scrutiny Sub-Group of the repairs call centre service and proposed recommendation which they hoped would lead to improvements that would benefit both tenants and call centre staff.  The report noted that this was the second review the Scrutiny Sub-Group had undertaken.

 

Members agreed to defer the discussion on this item.

 

RESOLVED

 

That this item be considered at the next meeting.

 

68.

PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR HOUSING PERIOD QRT3 AND QRT4 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 262 KB

Report of the Executive Director (Housing and Communities) provides a summary of the strategic key performance indicators (KPIs), and comments about performance by exception for Quarter Three.  Quarter Four will be reported verbally.  The KPIs are monitored monthly by Heads of Service.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report of the Executive Director (Housing and Communities) which provided a summary of the strategic key performance indicators (KPIs) and comments about performance by exception for Quarter three.  Quarter four was reported verbally.

 

The report noted that the KPIs being reported were the corporate KPIs that had been published in the Council’s Action Plan for 2017/18.

 

Officers explained that although the performance reported was for quarter 3, Officers provided a verbal update on the performance for quarter 4 which was the end of year out-turn performance. Officers explained a number of KPIs had changed and there was an improvement in out-turn performance and where required, work was being undertaken to improve the figures; in particular the red coloured boxes which indicated that performance was out of target and tolerance.  One comment was made in respect of not being able to turn round properties quick enough (re-let turnaround time), however a full review of the process was being carried out to improve service delivery against this particular KPI.

 

The following points were raised:

 

·         The way in which complaints were handled.  Officers explained that if a customer was not happy with the Council’s response they will not accept the answer, as it is not what they envisaged and therefore a negative reaction.

·         Officers agreed to provide further information following the meeting on universal credit and how this has affected tenants and the quarterly figures.

·         Members were advised that specialist Income Teams would be managing the rent accounts.

·         Two further comments were made in respect of managing temporary accommodation and void properties.

·         Members requested that the Council needs to be ready for the future in terms of providing homes.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the reports be noted.

 

 

69.

CABINET HOUSING PANEL WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Members are asked to note the pro-forma which sets out the Cabinet Housing Panel’s work programme which has been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered to take place.  Further information will be added to the work programme ready for the new Municipal Year.

Minutes:

The pro-forma setting out the Panel’s work programme had been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning if items to be considered to take place.

 

resolved:

 

That the updated work programme be noted.

 

70.

EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

The Panel is asked to resolve:

 

That under Section 100(A)(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be now excluded from the meeting for items 15, 16 and 17 (if any) on the grounds that they involves the likely disclosure of confidential or exempt information as defined in Section 100A(3) and Paragraphs 3 (private financial or business information) and 5 (legal and professional privilege) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).

 

In resolving to exclude the public in respect of the exempt information, it is considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That under Section 100(A)(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be now excluded from the meeting for items 14 and 15 on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of confidential or exempt information as defined in Section 100A(3) and Paragraph 3 (private financial or business information) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).

 

In resolving to exclude the public in respect of the exempt information, it is considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

71.

PRIVATE SECTOR ADAPTATIONS CONTRACT

Exempt report of the Executive Director (Housing and Communities) considers the options for future delivery of the Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG).  The service is now contracted out and expires at the end of September 2018.

Minutes:

Report of the Executive Director (Housing and Communities) which detailed options for future delivery of the disabled Facilities Grants (DFG).  The service was not contracted out but the Council still controls the approval process and payments.  It also audit samples and closely monitor the contractor’s performance.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.    That the tender report be recommended to Cabinet.

 

2.    That this would be initially for a one year period which would allow for this and the County project be evaluated and a report brought back to Members.

 

72.

FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT TENDER REPORT

Exempt report of the Executive Director (Housing and Communities) provides details of the procurement process for the fire risk assessment contract.

Minutes:

Report of the Executive Director (Housing and Communities) which provided details of the procurement process for the fire risk assessment contract.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the contract for the provision of Fire Risk Assessments be awarded to FIRE SAFETY FIRST.

 

Meeting ended at 9.30 pm

GP