Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Streets, Environment & Homes Sub-Committee - Tuesday, 13th July, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting was held remotely via Microsoft Teams.

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

Note: Moved from 6 July 2021 

Items
No. Item

17/21

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2021 as an accurate record (To Follow).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18/05/2021 were deferred to the next meeting.

18/21

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.

19/21

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.

20/21

Housing Improvement Plan and Board pdf icon PDF 491 KB

To receive the draft report, discuss and provide comment prior to its submission to Cabinet.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Members for Homes introduced the item and outlined details in a Presentation

Following the presentation, Members had the opportunity to ask questions

In response to queries raised by the Sub-Committee, the following was clarified:

  • The Housing Improvement Board was an independently Chaired Board with its own Terms of Reference which had undergone a review with changes made to the TOR
  • The Membership of the Board was being looked at to ensure appropriate reflection of representation of equality and diversity
  • A number of other blocks had been identified as having damp problems, with two of them being classed a priority
  • A number of meetings had taken place with residents to talk through issues
  • Analysis of historic allocations, to look at how allocations had been managed and if the policy was fit for purpose was an action in the Improvement Plan

 

During the consideration of the recommendations, the Sub-Committee discussed the following:

  • In assessing what went wrong, in particular with the issues at Regina road, it was acknowledged that there had been serious failings in the system. There were serious lessons that has been learnt and were taken forward as part of the redevelopment of the strategy. The new Housing Improvement Board would hold all aspects of the Council to account and it would be vital to ensure that all work streams worked well in tandem and identify interdependencies. Case work Management was an area of priority to be addressed as part of the improvement work
  • To address the areas of concerns with the Axis contract as highlighted by the Ark report,  several  joint workshops with council and contractor staff at  operational level had taken place with discussions on all aspects of the contract as well as how adapted ways of working as a result of the Covid pandemic. The ideas captured as the sessions would be developed into an action plan that would be fundamental to the Improvement Plan.
  • The Action Plan would be finalised, project officers had been identified for wok streams and this would be discussed at the next meeting of the Tenants and Leaseholders Panel.
  • There were issues with current levels of vacancies as a result of competitive market across London for experienced Council and Housing Association officers. Contractors had also experienced issues with recruitment as a result of Brexit which was having and impact of their ability to retain staff. They were however resourced at the level they should be based on the amount of work they were expecting following data that was presented to them by the Council that the beginning of the contract that they had submitted their tender on the basis of.
  • There were block by block visits taking places across the whole borough with efforts initially concentrated on areas that were of similar concerns as Regina Road.
  • A Roadshow had commenced that would run till September, starting at high rise blocks with lower levels of engagement in an attempt to create more line of visibility through a targeted knocking exercise to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/21

21/21

Review of Temporary Accommodation pdf icon PDF 241 KB

To receive a report and presentation which outlines the current situation with temporary accommodation in the Borough.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Housing Assessment and Solutions introduced the item and outlined details in a Presentation

Following the presentation, Members had the opportunity to ask questions

During the consideration of the recommendations, the Sub-Committee discussed the following:

  • There were five schemes available and a breakdown of each scheme would be sent following the meeting
  • Fire inspections and fire drills took place on each scheme to ensure that fire safety standards were met, with the quality team tasked with carrying out inspections
  • It was important to note that when a Borough placed a resident in accommodation in Croydon, they retained responsibility for that resident.
  • There were approximately 2096 families in temporary accommodation and this figure was similar to neighbouring boroughs.
  • There was a threat that with the end of Furlough, there could be a rise in people presenting as requiring Council assistance due to not being able to pay their rents and mortgages
  • The cost of temporary accommodation increased by 10% in 2021/21
  • There was more work that needed to be done on improvements to engagement and communication with residents as well as ensuring a robust complaints systems

 

 

Request for Information

·         Data on placements, both in and out of the Borough

 

In reaching its recommendations, the Sub-Committee came to the following Conclusions:

1.    The business case document had yet to be reviewed by the Executive Leadership Team which prevented it being presented to the sub-committee. It would be beneficial for Members to review the processes of officer appraisals

2.    It was reassuring to hear about the continuous work on challenging issues which impact the General Fund.

3.    It was important that continuous learning and best practice from peers take place.

4.    The Sub-Committee was not reassured on the private housing teams processes in managing quality and standards 

 

 

The Sub-Committee recommended that:

1.    A briefing to be provided to the sub- committee giving an overview of the business case

2.    Future reports be comprehensive to avoid instances where the sub-committee has to repeatedly request further information.

3.    Data be provided on empty units in the Borough, both private and council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22/21

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To note the Work Programme for the 2021/2022 municipal year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee NOTED the work programme for the remainder of the 2021 municipal year.

23/21

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.