MINUTES - PART A
DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST
There were no disclosures of pecuniary interest at this meeting.
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
One of the Joint Chairs, Michael Hewlett, welcomed all to the meeting. The panel members introduced themselves. Membership is now on a purely voluntary basis, so anyone can ask to be added to the distribution list.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies were received from Councillor Oliver Lewis and Sian Foley (on leave).
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 5TH FEBRUARY 2014
The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 5 February 2014 were agreed as a true record of the proceedings.
OVERVIEW OF THE NEW ADMINISTRATION'S PRIORITIES FOR COUNCIL HOUSING DURING THE NEXT FEW YEARS
Councillor Alison Butler highlighted the new administration's goals as being 'ambitious for Croydon':
The Council is here to protect and enhance housing stock.
Housing is a huge issue in Croydon for all areas: social housing, housing associations and the private rented sector.
500 families are currently living in B&B accommodation as there is nowhere to house them.
Over 2000 families are living in temporary accommodation.
There is a lack of supply.
Decent homes are required.
New administration has a strong commitment to the new Clean and Green agenda.
More people are now living in the private rented sector than in council housing.
Poor landlords cause fly tipping, ASB.
Fairness commission - concerned about equality and opportunity across the borough.
Strongly in favour of London living wage.
Looking at regeneration of existing housing stock.
Want people to live in mixed communities.
Decision to withdraw pension funds from tobacco industry - will reinvest in housing stock.
Need for bungalows - to enable people to move from large family houses and downsize.
The following issues were raised:
Is it true that 2 office blocks are going to be taken over houses put there?
Councillor Alison Butler: The office blocks are being converted by a different organisation. The Council will take them over as emergency housing, so we do not have to put homeless people in B&B.
Fly tipping is a major irritation which has been building up over the years.
There are areas which are left deteriorating - why can they not be used temporarily by the voluntary sector?
Councillor Alison Butler: There will be a school on the old General Hospital site. Temporary classrooms will be available for September this year. When looking at building new homes, we will be considering community space.
People on the edge of Waddon but not on the estate are not benefitting from the building there.
Councillor Alison Butler: The Clean and Green agenda will be benefitting all, not just those on estates. We need to know what areas require regeneration under this agenda.
What about New Addington?
Councillor Alison Butler: There are strong talks around redevelopment of New Addington. Discussions about what should happen in Central Parade - new facilities, new pool. Regeneration needs to be appropriate.
PLANNED MAINTENANCE RE-PROCUREMENT
Judy Pevan and Bob Richardson presented plans for the re-procurement of planned maintenance and improvement works:
Part of bigger plan to get better value for money for all repairs and maintenance.
Covering works on Croydon owned or managed homes.
Procuring general building, kitchens & bathrooms, windows, roofs, lifts, new wiring, central heating etc.
For all work which is not responsive but improving and enhancing.
60 different contracts currently - much more efficient to manage smaller number of contracts and contractors.
Defining similar areas of work for each contract.
Economies of scale and value for money.
Long term contracts up to 15 years.
Looking at other areas of the Council where similar works required, such as schools. Social services could use contracts for residential homes.
Prepared information from TLP feedback on ways of improving procedures.
Customer feedback important.
Feedback sessions will be set up shortly.
Proposals being put forward:
Whilst in proposal stage, there will be conversations with Cabinet Members for Homes & Regeneration and for Finance & Treasury.
Looking to build into project the ability to deliver economic development opportunities.
Need to enhance corporate social responsibility and increase opportunities for Croydon people and businesses.
Social impact - education, training, apprenticeships for local people - maximise benefits with contractors.
£25m annual expenditure - as much as possible to stay inside Croydon.
Advantage with long term contracts - encourages opportunity for long term investment and arrangements.
As project develops, there will continue to be conversations with many people within the Council.
By October, should have a finalised proposal.
The following issues were raised:
Regarding maintenance work for tenants - can leaseholders pay for similar work being carried out in Council properties?
Bob Richardson: Yes, we will try to include this in the proposal.
15 year contract - can you choose a Croydon contract over an outside one?
Judy Pevan: Under EU legislation we cannot specify Croydon business. Council will give lots of indicators of what is required. Through competitive dialogues, contractors will be clear what is wanted to benefit the area.
Bob Richardson: EU regulations include things like local opportunity. We could argue that a local contractor would have more opportunity to fulfill social value areas. We can choose to give certain areas (such as social value) more weighting during the evaluation of bids.
Elaine Wadsworth gave a verbal report, standing in for Chris Stock, who was absent on sick leave:
The Council wants to get as many people as possible using the internet to carry out their interactions with the Council.
Using the internet is affecting people's life chances eg ability to find work and save money through comparison websites; some services are only available online.
For organisations, it is much more cost effective if customers are getting information and interacting online - if 70% customers can serve themselves, this frees up staff to focus more time on the other 30% who are vulnerable.
25% of households are registered with the Council online through My Account.
As a landlord, the Council is keen that tenants and leaseholders are signed up.
In 2017 there will be a universal benefit (single benefit); the government's target is for 80% of claimants claiming online. The money will go straight to tenants (at the moment, housing benefit is paid to landlords) and it will be far more costly for the council to collect rent than now.
The council pays 46p for cash transactions through the post office whereas it costs nothing to collect rent payments online.
Barriers - no access, lack of confidence, fear factor.
Survey of tenants to provide intelligence of what needed.
People can now pay their rent online - about 2,000 paid online in June.
Looking at an app for paying rent by mobile phone.
Investigating training and support for tenants and organisations - will need different solutions for different groups of people.
Also considering installing wi-fi links to blocks of flats and promoting best internet provider deals.
Looking for tenants to act as digital champions to help with promotion and act as a sounding board on new initiatives - several tenants volunteered and will be contacted separately.
There was a 5 minute break due to excessive heat in the Chamber. The meeting was continued in the Mayor's Reception Area.
This item was deferred to the next meeting.
RECOMMISSIONING OF YOUTH PROVISION SERVICES
Ken Constantine briefly explained the highlights in the tabled report:
Commissioned youth provision services.
Contract £445k over 3 years.
Range of positive activities across estates.
PlayPlace, Croydon Youth & Information and Crystal Palace Football Club Foundation awarded contracts.
The following query was raised:
Ken Constantine: Budget the same but wanted to ensure no reduction in service, so previous year's already good performance was set as a minimum target in the specification set by the Council to achieve - more for the same money. Residents and young people contributed to the evaluation.
Councillor Michael Neal requested a breakdown of the youth clubs - now attached.
FEEDBACK FROM TENANT SCRUTINY
Chris Crossdale (Tenant Scrutiny Panel) explained that the Panel had just finished reporting on Neighbourhood Warden service.
Colin Wood mentioned that a meeting of Leaseholders took place last week and, unusually, 40 attended. This was a good attendance, compared to previous ones in single digits, but there are 2,000 leaseholders in Croydon. The 6 speakers from the Council had a hostile reception. A lot of questions were genuine and justified but some were not. Council Officers had a hard time in responding. There had been an individual surgery prior to the meeting. Grounds maintenance was raised as an issue from a number of leaseholders, also service charges, responsive repairs, dog fouling, noise etc.
It was suggested that the Scrutiny Panel might look at the Quadron contract (new ground maintenance contractor). In view of criticisms directed at the Council, it would be useful to have another Leaseholders meeting in a couple of months, to give the Council a chance to answer leaseholders' questions.
Election of Chair - Nominations received:
Proposed by: Peter Mason Seconded by: Bernard Daws
Proposed by: Julian Paine Seconded by: Chris Crossdale
Michael Hewlett 8
Marilyn Smithies 6
(Note: Rule introduced this year to prevent people standing for more than 3 years - but it is not retrospective).
Michael Hewlett was duly elected.
Election of Vice-Chair - Nominations received:
Proposed by: Julian Paine Seconded by: John Piper
Marilyn Smithies was duly elected unopposed.
Elections to other groups:
Marilyn Smithies was prepared to continue in this role and was duly elected as no one else wished to stand.
Croydon Voluntary Sector Alliance
Guy Pile-Grey was prepared to continue in this role and was duly elected as no one else wished to stand.
Election to London Tenant Federation (x2)
Michael Hewlett was prepared to continue in this role and was duly elected.
Chris Crossdale also indicated he was interested in attending.
d) Election to ARCH
Michael Hewlett was prepared to continue in this role and was duly elected.
London Tenants' Federation - Michael Hewlett
1-19 September - Examination in public of the Mayor of London's alterations to the London Plan (Housing questions 2-4 September)
Grant from London Trusts
If do not get funding from other trusts, may possibly ask London authorities to contribute
Only organisation in London which brings together tenants and leaseholders across all the London boroughs
Next meeting 5 August
Mayor's Housing Forum - Michael Hewlett
Meets twice a year but no meeting since December 2013
ARCH - Michael Hewlett
Tenants' annual conference Thursday 18 September in Birmingham Town Hall - each borough can send 5 members
Commissioned consultation to see where ARCH should be going
ARCH was formed to promote social housing in Councils to government
Croydon Voluntary Sector Alliance - Guy Pile-Grey
If there are questions about the voluntary sector, let him know so he can raise them at meetings
Croydon Congress - Marilyn Smithies
No meeting since 7 November 2013
Lack of feedback following meetings
All Ages Intergenerational Update - Ken Constantine
4th edition of 2Views' inter-generational magazine went out with latest Open House
Discussions taking place over next edition - possibly being an insert in Open House and about developing an electronic version
Developing family/community clubs - Green Lane, Handcroft, Croftleigh, New Addington and Tollers estate areas
Extending to Longheath and Queens Community Centre (Pawsons Road), where we are piloting a Parents Morning Club with Amicus Horizon
Planning Active lifestyle Lifestyle sessions at Fieldway Community Centre (and may extend to other areas)
Theresa Rogers leading Family / Community clubs project
Agreed at residents panel meeting on 10 July that All Ages' & Youth Services' residents panels will be combined, will meet quarterly, and to arrange third All Ages' event next summer (2015)
Resident Involvement Champions - Tim Nash
No longer accredited as such but we have more recently been arranging the London Tenant Scrutiny Network
Taken on mantle of leading on arranging events for officers and tenants to discuss resident scrutiiny
Event on 10 July at BWH - 60 attendees
Evaluation - feedback helpful
RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT ACTIVITY REPORT
Tim Nash: A more detailed plan is being developed, making more accessibility to training for others. Brochure to go online (also in hard copy) with links to other organisations which can provide training in particular areas.
For some of the surveys it just says 'a survey has been carried out'. Are the results available?
Please contact Tim Nash (
email@example.com) regarding any specific surveys. Results of surveys are normally available on request or via the website, but this can vary, according to who has requested or commissioned the survey.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Councillor Michael Neal thanked the panel for their support during the years of the previous administration and welcomed the new administration aboard.
The Chair expressed disappointment in the new procurement contract for ground maintenance. The service is worse than before. There have been frequent requests to meet but the issue is getting worse. Housing Management needs to look at the contract.
A number of Panel members pointed out issues which particularly need addressing:
Hedge cutting (lack of)
Weeding (lack of)
Councillor Michael Neal requested someone from Recycling and Waste Collection on Estates to be at the next meeting.
Two officers from Hammersmith & Fulham were present and pointed out that they have used Quadron for 4 years and are aware of how unresponsive they are. They have been trying to get them more involved through Estate Inspections.
Dave Sutherland: We are getting Quadron to engage and attend meetings.
It is a new contract - a council-wide corporate contract which Housing buys into. Housing contribution stayed the same and should be getting the same or better service. It normally takes about 6 months for a new contractor to 'get up to speed'. But Quadron Landscapes looks like a disaster. Department of Development &Environment officers are trying their best to get it sorted out. They are on the case and reporting daily. The issue has been raised with the Cabinet Member and department Director.
Household waste collections and food bins
The hot weather is causing disgusting state in food waste bins - they need to be collected twice a week and other waste at least once a week.
Dave Sutherland: Discussions are going on with Veolia - they are aware something needs doing. It needs a corporate solution.
An update was requested.
Judy Pevan: We are procuring and have identified the need for certain areas to be renewed.
A panel member pointed out that there are a number of repairs which are not being completed, despite numerous requests.
Dave Sutherland: Email Lorraine Smout and you will get a response.
DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
Wednesdays in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Croydon at 6.30pm:
15 October 2014
4 February 2015
MINUTES - PART B