Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Streets, Environment & Homes Sub-Committee
Tuesday, 17th December, 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Stephanie Davis
020 8726 6000 x84384  Email: stephanie.davis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

36/19

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 1 October 2019 as an accurate record.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 1 October 2019 were agreed as an accurate record.

37/19

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

Minutes:

There were none.

38/19

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

39/19

Sustainable Croydon pdf icon PDF 328 KB

To receive an update on the Sustainable Croydon agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Environment Transport and Regeneration ( Job share), Councillor Start King gave a presentation and the following points were noted:

·         Following the declaration of a Climate and Ecological Emergency, the Council had made a commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was working closely with the GLA to deliver a sustainable agenda.

 

·         In order to ensure the influence and representation of the voice of residents was reflected in the actions taken to address climate change, the Council was in the process putting together a citizen’s assembly for which members were currently being recruited.  70 residents would be selected through various wards and groups in order to ensure diversity of representation from across the borough.

 

·         Additionally the Council was in the process of creating an independent Sustainable Croydon Commission whose purpose will be to identify long term objectives and recommend realistic actions in the drive to establish Croydon as a sustainable borough.

 

·         To date, the Council had already increased recycling rates in the borough, reconfigured the waste collection service and completed the successful roll out of new bins. A commitment had been made to plant at least 3,500 trees over five years and published a five year Air Quality Strategy and Action Plan 2017-22.

 

Following the presentation the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report and the information provided during the presentation.

 

In response to a question on the feasibility of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, the Cabinet Member said that it was hoped that it would be achieved before that date as it could be argued that this target date does not show enough urgency. Officers were confident that it could be achieved and the advice received was that this was a deliverable ambition.

 

It was asked how members of the citizen’s assembly would be sourced and the level of expertise they possessed, additionally concerns were raised on conflicts of interest in a project like this. Officers reassured Members that they were keen to get this right and the appropriate people would be appointed. The comments made on ensuring expertise and experience would be taken on board during selection process.

 

A Member commented on the level of time it had taken since the declaration of the Climate Emergency to the present time and questioned when actions plans and recommendations would be published. It was further commented that it was important that Extinction Rebellion be involved in the process due to extensive work they had carried out to raise awareness and being one of the drivers in ensuring this emergency was declared.

 

Officers advised that Extinction Rebellion would be involved and they looked forward to receiving their advice throughout the project. Members were told that since the declaration was made, research was being carried out on the delivery of a sustainable borough. This had included visits to other boroughs and sharing learning. The recruitment for the Citizen Assembly was now completed and was within the timeline for a final report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39/19

40/19

A Housing and Homelessness Strategy For Croydon pdf icon PDF 464 KB

To receive and consider the development plans for the Croydon Housing and Homelessness Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Gateway and the Head of Strategic Projects and Growth gave presentations on the Housing and Homelessness Strategy:

 

During the presentations, the following points were noted:

 

·         There were specific drivers for a new Housing Strategy including population growth coupled with need, climate emergency and sustainability as well as affordability concerns.

 

·         Priorities would be focused on increase of supply, affordable homes, and improvements to current stock as well as better access to homes whilst promoting independence.

 

·         The current Administration and the Council were united in the decision that understanding need and a clear direction of travel was required which culminated in the production of the Strategy. The focus was on intervention with residents at the heart of responses, provision of services and support.

 

·         Hidden homelessness remained a large issue, with many families experiencing in work poverty. Similarly street homelessness remained a priority which was more about tackling the range of contributing factors, all of which required outreach and holistic support.

 

·         Several initiatives had been launched with partners and community services, who were all valued for their contribution as it was clear that the housing crisis could only be ended through working in partnership

 

Following the presentation the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the reports and the information provided during the presentations.

 

Officers were commended on the detail and level of work that had been undertaken in the development of the Strategy

 

In response to a question on how to define affordable housing, the Cabinet Member said that this term in itself was confusing as homes could be described as affordable but the level of difference in meaning would vary for different people. It was important to strike a balance and to be clear on what it actually meant for Croydon residents as the Government had taken the position that it should be 80% of market rent, but the reality was that in some areas with lower rents this was affordable and in others not.

 

A question was raised on whether there was an interconnection between planning applications, housing need in the borough and if there was a scope to steer developers towards submitting applications for homes that were more favourable. Officers responded that the planning department worked with developers and encourage them to provide as much affordable homes as possible from proposed schemes. They ensured environmental and space standards were taken into consideration and met. Officers also worked with Housing Associations to help meet housing need through their offers of social rented properties and shared ownership as part of proposed schemes.

 

A Member queried the expansion of the seaside homes scheme to facilitate people that wanted to move out of the borough. It was asked whether there was any figures available on the uptake of these schemes as well as any other schemes that the Council may have to assist people that wanted to move out of the borough. Officers agreed to circulate related information after the meeting.

 

A Member highlighted that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40/19

41/19

Policy for Council Community Properties, Rent Subsidy and Rate Relief pdf icon PDF 362 KB

To receive information on the background to the current approach and the proposed approach to the policy for allocation of Council community properties, setting rent and provision of rent subsidy and rate relief to Voluntary and Community Sector organisations.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities delivered the presentation and answered questions arising.

 

During the presentation the following points were noted:

·         The Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) was a fundamental part of Croydon which played a vital role in the delivery of services and support for residents.

·         This policy had been drafted to provide a transparent, criteria guideline driven formal policy of funding as there was no existing policy, to ensure that funding was widely distributed as possible, towards areas that will have as high an impact as possible for the community.

·         Due to the amount of funding available, only a small amount of the borough’s large voluntary sector could be supported, making it important that a clear policy was established.

·         Through engagement with the VCS the lack of availability of affordable premises was highlighted as a major challenge. It was clear that actions such as the monitoring of performance and property usage, using clear criteria for the allocation of premises and having rent subsidies which encouraged organisations to share available space were all actions that that this policy would seek to implement.

·         In drafting the policy, careful consideration had been given to the criteria, eligibility and allocation process, in particular the possible exclusions of any particular organisations or groups and the impact this could have on the organisations.

 

Following the presentation the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report and the information provided during the presentation.

 

The Chair informed Members that the focus of questioning should be on the eligibility criteria and the proposed timetable.

 

In response to a question on how to assess newly established organisations to ensure that they met the needs of residents, the Cabinet Member stated that this was the reason why these arrangements were being proposed. The Policy provided a clear process that required organisations to demonstrate that they fitted the criteria for eligibility and could meet the needs of residents.

 

It was further questioned how organisations would be asked to provide evidence to substantiate their proposals, to which officers responded that supporting evidence would be requested from applicants.  Including documentation such as terms of reference and annual monitoring reports on the services they have delivered.

 

Additionally the Council would reserve the right to review each organisations activities and random spot checks would be carried out by the administrative team, in particular instances when in receipt of any intelligence that required further investigation.

 

There were concerns raised regarding the proposal to exclude social enterprises, with a consensus that organisations should not automatically be excluded should they meet the criteria.

 

It was questioned how much time and effort would be required from organisations to complete forms, officers said that the application form would be proportionate and should take no more than 30 minutes to complete. It was expected that there would be over subscription, and in shortlisting, evidence of the use of the policy framework to complete applications would be sought. Organisations and their trustee boards  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41/19

42/19

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To note the Work Programme for the remainder of 2019/20 municipal year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee NOTED the work programme for the remainder of 2019/20 municipal year.

43/19

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

Minutes:

This was not required.