Meeting documents

Tenant & Leaseholder Panel
Tuesday, 4th October, 2016

Tenants and Leaseholders Panel Minutes

Tuesday 4th October 2016
The Council Chamber, The Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Attendance Details


Michael Hewlett (Chair), Marilyn Smithies (Vice-Chair), Syed Ahmed, Yaw Boateng, Bernard Daws, James Fraser, Sheila Howard, Julian Paine, David Palmer, John Piper, Stephen Pollard, Sharon Swaby, Jamil Tarik, Laurence Taylor, Kim Wakely and Colin Wood

Lynne Hale, Maddie Henson, Oliver Lewis and Alison Butler (Cabinet Member for Homes, Regeneration & Planning)
Sian Foley (Head of Service Development), Barry Lambton (Contracts Manager), Tom Lawrence (Service Manager), Mark Meehan (Director of Housing Need),Tim Nash (Resident Involvement Co-Ordinator), Judy Pevan (Commissioning Manager), Kirsteen Roe (Head of Partnerships & Engagement), Chris Stock (Resident Involvement & Scrutiny Manager), Stephen Tate (Director of District Centres & Regeneration), Elaine Wadsworth (Head of Housing Strategy & Commissioning)
Councillors Richard Chatterjee, Mike Fisher Joy Prince and Manju Shahul-Hameed; Aishnine Benjamin, Peter Cooper, Sylvia Fletcher, Edita Meier, Paul Phillips, Guy Pile-Grey, Marion Burchell, Maureen Symes and Linda Hill.
Apologies for absence:
Councillors Joy Prince and Manju Shahul-Hameed; Marion Burchell, Maureen Symes and Linda Hill; Colin Alexander (Head of Income & Lettings), Leonard Asamoah (Head of Housing Solutions), Ken Constantine (Sustainable Communities Manager), Yvonne Murray (Head of Tenancy & Neighbourhood Services), Jo Negrini (Chief Executive), Margaret Padmore (Tenancy Manager), Bob Richardson (Head of Planned Maintenance & Improvements) and Lorraine Smout (Head of Responsive Repairs). Apologies for lateness were also received from Councillor Oliver Lewis.

Item Item/Resolution

There were no disclosures of pecuniary interest at this meeting.


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


The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 17 May 2016 were agreed as a true record of the proceedings.


Tom Lawrence (Service Manager) gave an update:

  • Number of changes - 200 inspections every month - street cleanliness, bin emptying
  • Improvements to internal reporting of contractors
  • Fly tip waste clearance increased by 18%
  • Senior contracts monitor - focus on improving relationships between housing officers and those who manage contracts
  • Picking up orange bags 90% picked up on scheduled routes
  • Will keep focusing on improving systems and ensuring issues reported rectified in appropriate time
  • Standard of street cleansing improved
  • Robust monitoring in place


Barry Lambton (Contracts Manager) reported:

  • Quarterly contract
  • Monitoring - joint inspections and individual by council
  • Regular meetings - issues addressed
  • Grass caused problems between June and August but back on track
  • Contractor put in resources to get back on track


The following issues were raised:

  • Quadron staff cut grass but it is left on the path.  Not cutting bushes.

Barry Lambton: Various jobs are scheduled at different times.  Hedges have been cut and are due again.  Cut twice a year.  Shrubs the same.  Quadron and Veolia are meeting to see if can be more scheduling co-ordination between them.

  • Non-collection of general rubbish raised in March - emails sent but little or no response. Problems from tenants parking over bays so lorries could not get through to bin sheds.  Last 8 weeks, supervisor attended every bin collection and was successful.  Small vehicles can be sent.  Bigger vehicles cannot get through when cars parked over bays.

Tom Lawrence:  Apologies for not responding.  Working on remedies for resolving situations like this.  Improving our monitoring systems and Veolia the same so can take action more quickly.

Mark Meehan:  Regular meetings allow issues to be picked up more quickly.

  • When are the large waste bins supposed to be emptied - every week or two weeks?  After 2 weeks they are too full and tenants force more in and damage them.

Barry Lambton:  Should be collected every week.  Will investigate.

  • Recycling bin was contaminated.  Since 25 July 8 bags left in bin have not been collected. (14-24a Pedder Road)

Tom Lawrence:  Let us know when this occurs and we will arrange inspection and monitoring.

  • Toller Estate not been done properly for 8 months.  Grass cutting - next to Arena - only cut twice this year.  The contractors promised not to kill grass with weedkiller but have done it again.
  • Quadron has never been up to date on Longheath Gardens Estate. We were assured 11 cuts a year but are not getting that.
  • Grass cutting - they do not pick up the residue.

Barry Lambton: Grass is allowed to grow and is then cropped.  It depends on the type of grass.  We will look into it.  Spraying - all staff are trained but sometimes get drift, depending on the conditions.  7 weeks clearly not acceptable. Will look into all the areas to check all areas cut which should have been.

  • Food waste bins are not being emptied and washed - they stink.
  • Sunny Bank food bins not emptied for months - birds feeding off top of bins.
  • Food waste bins are not cleaned (Heathfield Gardens) - a number of tenants are claiming the same issue. Within 4 yards they are seriously smelly. Very unpleasant. Not cleaned all year - meant to be twice a year.

Barry Lambton:  Currently there is a programme of washing.  Should have been a month earlier but there were issues with getting the contractor to carry it out.  When done, there should be a white sticker with a date indicating when it was cleaned.  We will look into the non-emptying issue.  We will check lists to see if they should have been cleaned. It may be that twice a year is not enough.  They do not collect or compost the grass cuttings due to the cost.  The grass is cut and left. It should be blown off the path onto the grass.

  • Recycling - St Mark's Road - 3 blocks but not aware of any recycling process only 3 black bins.

Tom Lawrence: Happy to look at any estate where this is not provided.  There may have been reasons for not installing the bins.  We will see if we can put some in.  Street cleansing - arrange monitoring of frequency and standard of cleansing.

  • Veolia - what they drop when clearing the blue and green boxes they leave it, including broken glass.  Yvonne Murray is aware as we went on a walkabout.  On a large expanse of grass a large green bag of green waste had not been picked up.  Eventually John Sampson took it away.

Barry Lambton: When emptying the boxes, they should clean up spillage.  It needs to be reinforced. 

Tom Lawrence:  Spillages are part of monitoring - we are timing inspections to gauge the quality of sweep or collection.  Where spillages are seen, they are flagged up to crews by managers.  We will arrange more monitoring.

  • Longheath Gardens - Orange bags are picked up every day but minor tips are passed but not picked up.  Why not, if they see them?  It is mostly green waste.

Tom Lawrence:  We are keen to improve mechanisms for proactivity to fly tipping to ensure clearance within 48 hrs without having to be reported.  Street cleansers put a sticker on and report back for it to be collected.

  • A table and chair were put in the place where they are normally collected but they had been there a month.  The table has now gone but the chair is still there.

Elaine Wadsworth (Head of Housing Strategy & Commissioning) gave a presentation:

  • A year ago we reported to TLP on a number of proposals announced by the government
  • Proposals now law but still waiting to see detailed regulations before we can fully understand the implications for Croydon
  • 3 measures:
    • Rent reduction - 1% a year for four years. This has already been implemented and we know the impact
    • Pay to stay
    • Vacant higher value voids levy
  • Pay to stay: we will have to charge higher rents to tenants earning more than £40,000 a year and hand over the difference between the standard rent and new rent to the government. Our concern, shared by other councils, is that we will have to pay more than we collect so there will be a net cost to the council. We don't know when this will come into legislation but we believe that we will not have to hand over more than we collect in the first year - our latest assumption is that the levy will come into full effect from 2019. This measure will be complex to administer and there will be negative effect on tenants earning above the threshold
  • Higher value properties - the government will require us to pay a levy based on the sale of our third most expensive homes becoming vacant each year. This could be a very substantial amount of money and it is likely that we will not be able to afford to pay the levy without selling our homes although we will be looking at how we can reduce our expenditure to help towards the levy
  • We have been told that the regulations on pay to stay and higher value voids coming out October/November
  • One percent rent reduction:
    • The average weekly rent fell from £107 last year to £106. Under the previous government rent formula, it would have increased to £110. At the same time costs have increased because of inflation (for example, staff and contracts)
    • The rental income in 2015/16 was £77.2m rent, decreasing to £76.5m this year. That is a loss of £77,000 against last year but a total loss of £3m when compared with the income we would have got under the old rent formula. There will be a £3m gap for each of the years that the 1% reduction applies


The following issues were raised:

  •  Does the Council use the notice period to let their properties and arrange viewings while current tenants are still in occupation?

Mark Meehan:  Most authorities do offer this when turning round properties - 28 days?  When we know someone going, will have conversation and plan

  • When the Council sells properties is it still 25% for LA and 75% to government?

Elaine Wadsworth:  That used to be the case.  Now we keep moreas long as we invest the receipt in creating new homes but we have to match-fund the receipt with our own money in the HRA.

Cllr Alison Butler: The Council has to find the other 70% % if we are to build or purchase new homes.  The higher value voids levy will mean we will lose desperately valued homes. The higher value homes are most likely to be larger family homes - the most needed. As the number of properties the council owns goes down, the rent revenue reduces and there will be serious problem for Croydon's financial position. We are hoping to get the government to step back on some of the measures.

  • How much revenue is generated by service charges?

Elaine Wadsworth:  It has increased slightly. (Note following the meeting: the service charge was not increased in 2016/17)

  • Do you have any figures on the number of tenants earning over £40K pa?  Do you monitor every tenant's wages?

Mark Meehan:  The government determined £40k.  We do not have the information.  If implemented, it will need a long lead-in time to gather the information.  The government estimates it covers 7% of council tenants.  Neither of the statutory instruments have been published.  We are expecting them pre-Christmas/November.

Cllr Alison Butler: £40k covers the two highest earners.  Reduction in rent was about lowering the amount of housing benefit.  Over 4 years it represents £31m less going into the housing budget.  All councils that have stock set a 30 year plan, based on information provided by government.  When the rules are changed the impact is not just for the short-term but throughout the entire period of the 30 year plan.  We can no longer judge what income will come in.


This item was postponed.  There will be a separate meeting about Brick by Brick. 


Yaw Boateng (Scrutiny Panel member) gave a verbal presentation:

  • Concluded project on communication
  • The panel is looking to recruit new members and will be deciding on the service area for their next scrutiny exercise.

Chris Stock thanked everyone for their participation on the panel.  He explained that posts have to be elected every year. Chair and Vice-Chair can restand. The three-year rule for the Chair applies from 2016, so Michael Hewlett had to stand down.  The TLP constitution now includes a rule that self-nomination is not allowed.


Election for Chair:

Nominations: John Piper proposed Marilyn Smithies and Michael Hewlett seconded

Marilyn Smithies was duly elected as Chair


Election for Vice-Chair:

Nominations: Julian Paine proposed Michael Hewlett and Stephen Pollard proposed Colin Wood


Colin Wood - He has been living in Croydon in St Mark's Road for 10 years.  He was on the Leaseholder Panel.  Leaseholders have as important a role as tenants.  As a member of several committees, he has a fair knowledge of what is happening in the Council.


Michael Hewlett - He has been a resident representative for 25 years and has seen all the changes in Croydon.  He is a Director of the London Tenants Federation.  As a member of ARCH he meets residents from all over the country.  At meetings he does his best to promote Croydon.


Vote: Michael Hewlett - 6

Colin Wood - 9

Colin Wood was duly elected as Vice-Chair


London Tenants' Federation - Michael Hewlett and Colin Wood were proposed and duly elected.

ARCH - Michael Hewlett and Jamil Tarik were proposed

Vote: Michael - 12

Jamil - 3

Michael Hewlett was duly elected.


CVSA - The current rep, Guy Pile-Grey, was not present.  The panel agreed that, if Guy was happy to stand down, Sharon Swaby would take this over.

Croydon Congress - Marilyn Smithies was re-elected unopposed.


Any observers were invited to let Chris Stock have contact details if they wish to join the panel.


London Tenants' Federation - Michael Hewlett

  • Next meeting Tue 11 Oct
  • New Mayor of London must produce London Plan - LTF will send people along to City Hall to the determination 


ARCH - Michael Hewlett

  • Annual Conference took place on 22 September at Leamington Spa
  • 100 delegates attended
  • National property company speaker was very interesting
  • Work shops - a lot of questions still to be answered
  • Sponsored by Warwick Council


CVSA - Guy Pile-Grey

  •  No update available


Croydon Congress – Marilyn Smithies

  • "Once again there have been no follow-ups nor feedback from the last Croydon Congress meeting held on 21 June, which focused on Social Isolation and Loneliness
  • There were several presentations and speakers on the the many faces of social isolation and loneliness issues and approaches
  • The keynote speech was a public health approach to social isolation, on how should evidence inform action?
  • Apart from receiving no follow-ups nor feedback, I have no idea when the next Croytdon Congress Meeting will be, what it will focus on and where it will be held, due to the closure of Fairfield Halls."


All Ages Inter-generational Update - Sian Foley

  • There was no update


Youth Provision and Communities Fund - Sian Foley (see report)

  • Community Fund - for young people and wider community
  • Successful bidders announced
  • HRA youth budget and early intervention support service
  • 3 organisations providing - estate based youth provision, summer activities and Croydon Drop In
  • 9 organisations funded through the Community Fund
  • Additional opportunities for young people to get engaged
  • Over 30 bids - 11 successful contracts
  • Meeting end October - officers to look at how to develop programmes to best meet needs of young people on estates


Michael Hewlett queried why there was no consultation, with £200k of HRA put into the pot. TLP has had no input into who the contractors are. As it is HRA money, TLP should be able to express an opinion on selection of contractors.

Sian Foley explained there had been a consultation at Crystal Palace. There will be a meeting through the Resident Youth Panel to see how the Council can shape services.

Mark Meehan gave an assurance that, for any future contracts, local residents will be engaged where residents' money is involved.


This report was for information only. There were no questions.


Colin Wood thanked panel members for electing him.  He mentioned that recently a boxer from Croydon won a bronze medal at Olympic Games and this should be celebrated -


Stephen Pollard announced that this was his last TLP meeting as he is resigning from all panels after 16 years.


Sharon Swaby asked for information about what is happening in Shrublands.  There is a rumour that the community centre and garages are to be demolished and the deadline for appealing is 17 October.

Stephen Tate responded that there are currently no plans on Shrublands Estate.


Kim Wakely asked about the Christmas buffet - is it still taking place with awards as suggested last year?

Chris Stock responded that it has been discussed.  The arrangements have not been finalised but a date will be decided soon.

The meeting ended at 8:15pm