Meeting documents

Tenant & Leaseholder Panel
Tuesday, 7th July, 2015

Tenants and Leaseholders Panel Minutes

Tuesday 7th July 2015
The Council Chamber, The Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Attendance Details


Michael Hewlett (Chair), Marilyn Smithies (Vice-Chair), Syed Ahmed, Peter Cooper, Chris Crossdale, Bernard Daws, Sylvia Fletcher, Sheila Howard, Peter Mason, David Palmer, John Piper, Stephen Pollard, Laurence Taylor, Kim Wakely, Colin Wood

Councillors Michael Neal and Manju Shahul-Hameed
Councillors Lynne Hale, Maddie Henson, Oliver Lewis, Dudley Mead and Joy Prince,

Item Item/Resolution

There were no disclosures of pecuniary interest at this meeting.


The Chair, Michael Hewlett, welcomed all to the meeting.


Apologies were received from Councillors Lynne Hale, Oliver Lewis and Joy Prince, Aishnine Benjamin, Guy Pile-Grey and Stephen Tate (Director of District Centres & Regeneration).


The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 20 May 2015 were agreed as a true record of the proceedings.


Andy Opie (Director of Safety) gave a verbal summary of progress on the Eyes and Ears Project:


Restructure of all services within Council has meant significant change to Neighbourhood Warden service:

  • Part of the function uis merging with the Area Enforcement (AE) Team
  • Part of the Community Involvement and Youth Work has moved into the Community and Youth Teams in a different department
  • Consultation with all affected staff and unions now concluded
  • In process of finalising the final proposal and any last minute changes from the consultation feedback
  • Written to staff last week to close off any last questions regarding details of the restructure
  • Some changes to the original proposal
  • If no further changes, the final proposal is to merge the Neighbourhood Warden service with the AE Team
  • Other community related functions will move into a different part of the Council
  • Numbers involved have changed - originally 21 of 26 Neighbourhood Wardens to the AE team and 5 to youth and community function
  • Final staff numbers will be 18 to the AE team and 8 to the youth and community function
  • Merger of two teams has raised the issue about what the new team should be called - to be renamed Neighbourhood Safety Officers, as they will cover safety, reassurance and problem solving issues
  • Aiming to roll out from 1 September
  • Currently in the process of various selection procedures - competition for posts within the teams
  • During August matters of uniforms, training, locations, vehicles etc will be arranged
  • Want to seek feedback and engagement during the roll out of the new structure
  • Will consider setting up a sub-group so it can engage regularly over the next few months
  • Finally, there will be a formal review, probably using the Scrutiny Panel, to assess if the new arrangements are working


The following issues were raised:

  • At a meeting on 17 June meeting there was negative response to the changes and some of the wardens were not in favour, with the unions backing them. How has the consultation addressed this?

Andy Opie: We have consulted with staff.  The final proposal has reflected feedback.  There has been a formal challenge from the unions.  Sessions have been held with Warden teams and we have responded to concerns raised.  The new model fits the new structure towards which the Council is working.  It is a big change but will still be delivering the same, if not better, service.


  • Are the changes to the earlier model cost neutral?

Andy Opie:  There is no significant change in cost - in fact it is now slightly cheaper. 


  • Are there female wardens?

Andy Opie:  there is a good mix of both genders.


  • With whom was the original restructure consultation done?  Surely council taxpayers should be consulted too? 

Andy Opie:  It is the same for all consultations - it has been done through the Tenants' & Leaseholders' Panel.  We will be writing to tenants and leaseholders to explain.  There are massive changes in how housing is being delivered across the board.  There was a lot of discussion within the organisation with a variety of colleagues, politicians etc as regards what the best operation would be.  We are grouping a range of similar services together in a different way -  joining things up so the Council can offer a better service.


  • How do the wardens get paid?  Is it from the HRA?  The HRA should only be paying for work done on the estates.

Andy Opie:  The Neighbourhood Warden service is paid for out of the HRA.  There are no changes in terms of the recharge to that budget.

The recharge will be reflected by the amount of work being done on the estates.  There is a robust audit trail.


  • Where were residents consulted?  A proposal was put forward at the last TLP but is was not a consultation.  17

Andy Opie: We put together a proposal presented at the last TLP.  We went through a staff consultation and have taken on board a number of the comments people put forward.


  • To what extent has the reorganisation taken into account the comments of the tenants and leaseholder?

Andy Opie:  The principle concern which came across was about wardens not being enforcement officers.  They do a lot of community and youth work and engaging with people.  We responded by changing the numbers of staff in each team, putting more in the youth and community team. 


Cllr Michael Neal:  The new administration has the authority to change things.  With the Cabinet system, any changes go to Cabinet for approval.  Then it comes to consultation.  Officers then add consultation feedback into approved changes.

Leonard Asamoah (Director of Housing Need):  We have an obligation that once the decision has been made, implementation sometimes improves the proposal through feedback received.  It is important to be able to deliver services.


Chris Stock tendered apologies as no one from the team was available to attend.

They will be asked to attend the next TLP meeting or a separate meeting will be organised.


The Chair emphasised that information is wanted.  Complaints have been made via the contact centre about bins not being emptied.  However the website information was wrongly indicating the scheduled dates and has still not been put right.  Several people reported they had been leafleted with incorrect information and would like an explanation.


Chris Stock agreed to feedback that residents have a concern about inaccurate information and will arrange a meetings in the meantime, before the next TLP date.


There was a general feeling that it was very disrespectful that no officers had come to speak on this issue.  There has been no food waste collection for 4 weeks and, in the hot weather, it has been causing smells and fly infestation.  Also, the food bins are not being cleaned and this is a serious matter of health and safety.


Cllr Michael Neal suggested that, as this is very urgent, Michael Hewlett (Chair) and other TLP members should meet with the officers.  It is not just estates, but other residents have been affected by changes and no information has been given.


MarilynSmithies (Vice-Chair) commented that Croydon Council is making a lot of changes but is now discovering that the village approach is not working.  Residents want this matter addressed.


Leonard Asamoah agreed that Chris Stock will arrange an urgent meeting through the chair.  He agreed that all is not well and that he had seen some of the evidence.  The matter will be taken forward urgently.


Bob Richardson (Head of Planned Maintenance & Improvement) gave a verbal report.

  • 3 main strands:
    • Largest building contract at stage where final bidders submitting their tenders
    • Being evaluated by wide range of officers and including stakeholders (Chair and VC TLP)
    • On target for implementation date of 1 April 2016
  • 2nd strand - pre-qualification questionnaire stage for lift contract for all of housing and council's lifts (except BWH)
    • To be in place July 2016
  • 3 other contracts - window replacement, electrical and mechanical works
    • Looking at strengths and weaknesses of organising contracts in different ways
    • Next step - meeting with Cllr Alison Butler and Cllr Simon Hall in late July to discuss options


The following issues were raise:

  • Volunteers were asked to look at options for the 3 contracts - what is happening about this?

Bob Richardson:  Number of people put themselves forward and have been trained.  Because we had delay on the three strands, until it is decided how to move forward, we are a short way away from involving residents.  Got more volunteers than needed.  Do not want to create a large team just to use up the numbers but we will involve as many as possible, with teams of a sensible size.


  • Will the lift contract include the Town Hall?  Will it include providing better buttons which can be read by visually impaired?

Bob Richardson:  It probably will include the Town Hall.  If a resident with sight impairment is living in a block, we will try to upgrade buttons during the maintenance


  • The general contract is going well.  You mentioned an option of up to 5 window contracts.  What benefit would you get?  Surely one supplier would be more manageable.  Why not pick best one from the tenderers?

Bob Richardson:  We are looking at all options and discussing them to evaluate advantages and disadvantages.


  • Does the contract cover electrical equipment in flats or only communal areas?

Bob Richardson: Every year there is a programe of work, driven by stock condition information. There is always a lot of work needing to be done. Over the years, we have had contracts over a certain number of years. For more disparate ranges of work there were no contracts in place, so it was quite hard to respond. By the time a survey had been done, and a specification had gone out to tender etc it could take 9 months. We want to always have arrangements in place in the long term, so we are in a better position to respond quickly.

For leaseholders, we do not do works within the property - only the communal area. Leaseholders are responsible for their own properties.

  • Presumably leaseholders have to renew their own windows?

Bob Richardson: When we renew windows for a block of flats, we would renew all the windows, whether tenants or leaseholders. Leaseholders would pay a contribution. Leaseholders could renew their own windows, providing they are of an acceptable quality.

  • What about repairs to doors?

Bob Richardson: For all repair items, responsive repairs will cover. If for renewal, it will be a contractor – which will include entry phones. The job will go out to tender. Anyone can apply but they have to meet certain criteria.


Scrutiny report - full report available - in hard copy or online.

Yaw John Boateng presented a summary:
The Panel considered results of 2014 - residents views on variety of services.
Customer satisfaction with service was very poor
Panel agreed to carry out detailed scrutiny of ASB service.
Work involved took place over 7 months.
Presentation to Heads of Services, Senior managers etc on 18 June
Thank you to Chris Stock and Tim Nash for support.
Report online.

  • ASB policy - being revised - timetable for completion to be agreed, including consultatiohn with residents
  • Information related to ASB on website should be improved
  • 24 hour dedicated reporting line suggested
  • Use of pre-printed good neighbour card to be trialled - first stop to inform neighbour they are causing ASB and ask them to meet to discuss
  • Additional support for officers using new software for casework

The following issues were raised:

  • If ASB reported, officers have 3 days to respond but it is a long time to wait in a lot of cases. Officers said it was a 'question of resources'.
  • Card might work but it assumes the person causing concern is reasonable - a lot aren't!
  • What if neighbour does not speak English?

Tim Nash: It would be inappropriate to use a card where there is an ongoing nuisance.

The Chair asked the panel members to join in thanking the Scrutiny Panel which does a lot of work.



Chris Stock explained about the Mobile Information Bus:

  • Pop Bus funding ceased and taken over by the Council for a while
  • To bring information to residents
  • To provide service - used by social care, doing health checks, giving advice etc
  • Agreed to have exclusive use of the vehicle once a month to promote housing services, run advice surgeries etc.
  • Got wi-fi on board
  • To trial for 12 months
  • 1st one on 28 July - Central Parade at New Addington 12-7pm
  • Following month in Waddon
  • Suggestions requested - where it should go, what it should offer
  • Will report back to Resident Involvement Panel

The following comments were made:

  • Council decision to take £25,000 out of HRA - £350 per hour.
  • Pop Bus wasn't used in Broad Green. Why waste £25,000?
  • Pop Bus - worked well in New Addington.
  • Could hire rooms much more cheaply.
  • It is small - will only take a few people at a time.
  • Why not piloted first? No consultation with TLP.
  • Sounds interesting. But if do not have enthusiastic support it should not be continued.
  • It is a way of having a voice
  • Would be good in Central Parade on market day
  • Needs to be marketed well - people would then go.

Chris Stock: Decision made over a year ago. It was not discussed with residents. Officers supported it - for surgeries for repairs. It is a 12 month pilot. Consultation facilities inside. Will be like a market stall - officers will go out and about. Can use it more - for a whole week on an estate. 12 days is minimum use. Mobile bus worked well years ago. It was a different way to get people to come along who would not attend a meeting. Not cheap but it's a different way of engaging people.

  • There are plenty of places on estates for these meetings to be held.
  • Could have Fieldway Community Centre free of charge.

Chris Stock: We can always use community centres for events, meetings. The bus is different. Majority of people do not go to public meetings but, if they see a mobile bus, they get interested. It will get a different group of people. If it doesn't work, we will not continue with it.

Sian Foley: Young people - cannot get them to the clubs in Waddon. Opportunity to ask them what they want. Survey opportunity.


Chris Stock explained that posts have to be elected every year.   Chair and Vice-Chair can restand.  Three-year rule (Chair) will only apply in 2016.

Discussion about not being able to nominate oneself.  Not in TLP constitution but will be added.


Election for Chair:

Nominations: Peter Mason proposed Marilyn Smithies

Stephen Pollard proposed Colin Wood but he only wanted to stand if Michael and Marilyn stood down.

David Palmer and Laurence Taylor proposed Michael Hewlett

Vote:  Michael Hewlett -  9

           Marilyn Smithies - 7

Michael Hewlett was duly re-elected as Chair


Election for Vice-Chair:

Nominations: Marilyn Smithies

There were no other nominations, so Marilyn Smithies was duly re-elected as Vice-Chair


For the other groups, the existing representatives were happy to restand and the panel members were happy with that:

London Tenants' Federation - Michael Hewlett and Chris Crossdale

ARCH - Michael Hewlett

CVSA - Guy Pile-Grey

Croydon Congress - Marilyn Smithies


London Tenants' Federation - Michael Hewlett

  • Project to see how social residents feel about the stigmatisation currently arising from the media


ARCH - Michael Hewlett

  • AGM 22 June
  • New chair and vice-chair re-elected
  • Discussion about where social housing going
  • Chief Executive - until white paper (due end August) comes out, cannot make any comment
  • Arrangements for Conference in Croydon in September (23) Fairfield progressing
  • Tenants from all over the country - good workshops
  • Croydon gets 5 free places


CVSA - Marilyn Smithies

  • Meeting 15 June was postponed
  • Awaiting new date


Croydon Congress – Marilyn Smithies

  • 11 June meeting focused on Domestic abuse and Sexual Violence
  • There was an overview presentation from Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls
  • Followed by a film screening of “Leaving”, about a woman suffering violence and abuse from her husband. Although it didn’t relate to actual events, the screening was very traumatic and the round table discussions that followed echoed the shock felt by all who had watched it.
  • Fiona Bowman MBA CBIFM gave a ‘Personal Story’. The admiration felt for this lady, as she told her story, was indescribable and was reflected in the round table discussions that followed.
  • TLP will be kept informed of the ‘next steps’ for Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence as they become available.


All Ages Inter-generational Update - Sian Foley

  • Planning summer holiday activities - 3 weeks - crafts, cooking, dance, scuba diving etc
  • Including Shrublands, Monks Hill, Waddon, Regina Road, Green Lane, Longheath and New Addington
  • Play ranger activities - supervised play at 11 locations (details from Sian Foley)
  • Summer in the Park
  • Management Course - 3hour sessions - next one 10 September - Octagon Cafe

The attached reports were for information only:

  • Resident Involvement Activity Report
  • Estates Visits Schedule



Tenants made the following comments:

  • Axis contractor - work poor, quality poor. So many sub-contractors with no idea of what work needs to be done. Gallows painted - job had to be done again because used cheap paint. Benches varnished but have to be done again - Council inspector not happy with work. 'First time fix' not happening.
  • Rotten shed doors with hinges coming off and play areas and gardens being overgrown.
  • Quality of work has deteriorated.
  • Windows worse now they have been 'cleaned'!
  • Poor monitoring of contracts

Michael Hewlett announced meeting in Town Hall on 9 July with residents group for responsive repairs.

Leonard Asamoah assured the meeting that these issues will be addressed.


Future meetings are all in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Croydon at 6.30pm:

  • Tuesday 13 October 2015
  • Wednesday 3 February 2016
  • Tuesday 26 April 2016
The meeting ended at 9:52pm