Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Housing Panel
Monday 1st July 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE

Contact: Graham Seal 

Items
No. Item

1.

APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMAN

To note that Councillors N.Pace and J.Boulton were appointed Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Panel for the 2019/20 municipal year at the Cabinet meeting on 4 June 2019.

Minutes:

It was noted that the Cabinet had appointed Councillors N.Pace and J.Boulton as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Panel respectively for the 2019/20 Municipal Year.

2.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2019 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

3.

ACTIONS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which lists the actions from the last Panel meeting and their current status.

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Panel meeting on 11 March 2019 in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.

4.

WHERE WE ARE NOW IN OUR HOUSING SERVICE pdf icon PDF 6 MB

Presentation by the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) giving an update to the Panel on the housing service.

Minutes:

Presentation by the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) giving an update to the Panel on the housing service.

 

The presentation covered the biggest challenge, the Council’s role in meeting local housing needs, including the creation of a new Council-owned housing company.

 

In response to Members’ questions, it was noted that there were currently no families in bed and breakfast accommodation.

 

(Note:  The presentation is attached to these Minutes).

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the presentation by the Director on where we are now in our housing service be received.

5.

RESIDENT LIAISON MANAGER INTRODUCTION AND VERBAL UPDATE ON QUEENSWAY HOUSE, HATFIELD

Verbal introduction on role and profile and brief update on Queensway House by Carrie Sontag, Resident Liaison Manager.

Minutes:

Verbal introduction on role and profile and update on Queensway House, Hatfield by Carrie Sontag, Resident Liaison Manager.

 

Carrie had been involved in this type of work for over fifteen years with building contractors and local Councils across London. She was currently working on a number of projects; primarily Queensway House, but also development and regeneration projects such as Ludwick Green and Guessens Grove and community engagement at Woodhall. To improve the communication with Queensway House residents a number of measures have been introduced, including a notice board in the communal area, a comments/ suggestion box for residents that want to leave feedback sited in the foyer and monthly newsletters.

 

A coffee morning had been arranged on 3 July 2019 at White Lion House for residents who wished to discuss any queries or concerns. The plan is to set up a Residents’ Association for Queensway House.

 

Lift renewal works had been completed and the lift now ran to all floors. Final testing of the lift had been carried out ready for it to be in full use on 3 July 2019. Minor making good and decoration works would be carried out before then. Residents would be updated through the noticeboard and newsletters.

 

Following the Government approved test results for the representative sample of the fire doors installed at Queensway House, all residents were hand delivered a letter on 21 June 2019. On the recommendation of the fire service, a 24 hour “waking watch” had been put in place to assist with early action. This will be until the Council has confidence in a replacement door product which meets current government guidelines.

 

The design work continued on the sprinkler system and was almost complete with work provisionally scheduled in September 2019. Other works including the ventilation/ extractor system and external cladding removal were also due to be commenced in September 2019.

 

In response to Members’ questions, it was noted that the Council would work with residents at Queensway House to discuss options and help them move if requested via the housing needs register. Decanting of residents would be needed when major works such as installation of sprinklers took place. The funds had been allocated for major works, the design work was underway and the installation works were to be tendered.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the introduction on the role and profile of the Resident Liaison Manager and update on various items relating to Queensway House, Hatfield be received.

6.

MEET THE GAS CONTRACTORS

Presentation from the newly appointed housing gas service contractors, Aaron Services and PH Jones.

Minutes:

Presentation from the Compliance Manager on the gas servicing and maintenance contract re-procurement and introduction of the newly appointed housing gas service contractors, Aaron Services Ltd and PH Jones Ltd (British Gas Social Housing Ltd).

 

At the end of March 2019, the TSG Ltd gas servicing and repairs contract ended and the Cabinet agreed to split this contract into two lots to ensure more resilience and possible further competition and to increase the possibility that locally based individuals would be able to benefit from employment opportunities.

 

The Cabinet agreed to award an initial five year contract to Aaron Services Ltd for Lot 1 (Welwyn Garden City) and Lot 2 was awarded to British Gas Social Housing Limited, trading as PH Jones Ltd (Hatfield and the Villages).

 

In response to questions from Members, it was noted that all residents called a free central number to the repairs team for both contractors. There would be regular performance monitoring with an annual update and no differentiation between services to residents in Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City and contingency planning with both contractors who had stated that their Winter planning started in August.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the presentation be received.

7.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAMME MONITORING REPORT JULY 2019 pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) providing an update on the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme.  Updates are provided twice a year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) providing a twice-yearly update on the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme.

 

The Cabinet had agreed a range of methods to deliver the programme and that a monitoring report should be presented to the Panel, setting out the budget and an overview of progress in delivering new affordable homes.

 

The programme was managed via an Officer project group and overseen by a steering group which met bi – monthly. The Executive Member was on the steering group, which provided strategic direction, considered the budget and recommended any reallocation of funds between different delivery methods as required.

 

In response to a Member query, it was agreed that information about street naming and numbering would be circulated to the Panel.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the progress of the Affordable Housing Programme in the monitoring report as at July 2019 be noted.

8.

HOUSING STOCK OWNING AUTHORITIES AND THE REGULATOR OF SOCIAL HOUSING'S CONSUMER STANDARDS pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Letter from the Chief Executive, Regulator of Social Housing attached.

Minutes:

A letter from the Chief Executive, Regulator of Social Housing had been received reminding local authorities of their obligations for their tenants’ safety under consumer standards.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That it be noted that an Officer response would be sent to the Regulator following it being checked with Risk and Resilience.

9.

PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR HOUSING PERIOD QUARTER FOUR - 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) providing a summary of the strategic key performance indicators (KPIs), and comments about performance by exception for Quarter Four.  The KPIs are monitored monthly by Heads of Service.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) providing a summary of strategic key performance indicators and comments about performance by exception for Quarter Four of 2018/19.

 

In response to Members’ questions, it was noted that there was a trend of more people losing private sector homes, largely affecting people in receipt of universal credit. The Council provides support to its tenants.

 

Members considered that response times to emergency alarm calls from residents for a mobile warden of less than the target of twelve minutes was very impressive. Members recorded their thanks to the work of Officers to ensure that there were no families in bed and breakfast accommodation. Members’ were pleased to note that rent arrears had reduced in this quarter to below the target. Preferred methods for contact with tenants were being looked at within the Customer Service Strategy.

 

(Note:  The reasons for homelessness since the start of this year are attached to these Minutes).

 

RESOLVED:

 

That performance for the housing service in Quarter Four of 2018/19 be noted.

10.

WORK PROGRAMME 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 96 KB

The pro-forma which sets out the Panel’s work programme has been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered to take place.

Minutes:

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

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the updated and amended work programme be noted.