Agenda and minutes

Housing & Customer Services Working Group
Thursday 19th September 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - Pink Room. View directions

Contact: Carley Lavender 

No. Item


Declarations of interest

            Members and Officers are reminded to make any declarations of pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests that they may have in relation to items on this agenda and are reminded that they should re-declare their interest before consideration of the item or as soon as the interest becomes apparent.


            Members and officer should make their declaration by stating :

a) the application they have the interest in

b) whether it is a pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial

c) the nature of the interest

d) if it is a prejudicial or pecuniary interest, whether they will be exercising their right to speak to the application



            No declarations of interest were made.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Housing & Customer Services Working Group held on 7 February 2019 as attached.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 7 February 2019 were approved as a correct record by the Working Group and signed by the Chairman.


Meeting start times

To agree the start times for this Working Group for 2019/2020.


The Working Group




That the start times of meetings for the remainder of 2019/20 be 6.00 p.m.



Re procurement of Responsive Repairs Contract Update pdf icon PDF 143 KB

This report provides an update on the re-procurement of the Responsive Repairs Contract and Members are requested to note the contents of the report.


            The Group Head of Residential Services presented her update report outlining the current Contract for repairs and maintenance and associated works and services for Council Housing Stock with Mears Limited was due to expire in June 2020.


            She explained that earlier in 2019 the Council appointed Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP (FFT) as its consultants to assist with the procurement of a new contract. There were now four candidates who had been invited on 16 August 2019 to tender for the new Contract, with a view to secure a contract term based on 5 years with the option to extend for a further 3 years and a further 2 years thereafter.


            Members were advised that a future report would be taken to Cabinet to request the award of the new Contract when appropriate.


            A number of questions were asked by Members of the Working Group, the key points raised were:


§  If an end of contract report from Mears Limited would be provided to evaluate their performance over the last three years of the contract

§  Confirmation was sought about the void process and if residents would be required to pay for the work undertaken. Members were advised that charges only applied if deliberate damage had been caused. In this scenario residents would be recharged the cost of fixing the damage.  


The Chairman thanked the Group Head of Residential Services for her update and the Working Group noted the report.



Strategic Direction of Customer Services pdf icon PDF 231 KB

This report briefly reviews progress since the implementation of the 2013-17 Strategy, it introduces a new draft strategy and sets out a process of implementing the updated strategy. 

Additional documents:


            The Group Head of Neighbourhood Services and The Customer and Parking Services Manager presented their report and outlined that the new draft strategy contained within his report reflected the Council’s 2020 Vision and suggested a new Customer Service Vision that would put the Customer at the heart of everything the Council does. This is summarised as follows:


·         The report briefly reviewed progress since the implementation of the 2013-17 Strategy

·         It introduces a new draft strategy and sets out a process of implementation.  This includes consultation and workshops with elected members and staff

·         The draft Customer Access Strategy (2020-25) reflects the Council’s 2020 Vision and suggests a new Customer Services Vision which aims to place the customer at the heart of everything that the Council does. 

·         It sets out how a new strategy will be embedded into the organisation together with a proposed timescale.


Some key areas of progress that had been made were highlighted:


§  Training had been provided to multi-skill staff across the Customer Service teams

§  Website redesign although there was further work to be completed on this item, it had seen significant progress made and was now providing a much better service for the customer e.g. smartphone access, improved self-service options from reporting missed bin collections online to making online payments.

§  Social Media, regular updates across all social media channels allow the Council to respond directly with Customers as well as using these platforms to keep our customers informed of updates.

§  From the Customer Satisfaction Survey (2019) the results showed that the largest percentage of our customers (44%) said that their preference was to make contact with the Council via the website.

§  Implementation of a new vision across the organisation would be vital to ensure success of the new strategy and it would require everyone across the Council to be putting the customer first in everything they do in order for this culture change to be successful.


Members to part in a full debate, the key points raised were:


§  Suggestions to make improvement to the telephone Interactive Voice Response (IVR) as these can be difficult and frustrating to use

§  Support for customers who want to use the website but don’t have a computer or access to the internet 

§  A suggestion to investigate Repeat Contact reasons was made as this had not be detailed in the report provided.

§  How contact is logged at the Council, and the ease of locating all the customers information was discussed and a suggestion of logging contact to a case number was made.


It was confirmed that the aim of the new strategy was to ensure that customers had options to contact the Council to suit their needs. Whilst there had been a focus on boosting the number of customers who use the website to serve themselves, it was acknowledged that this does not suit everyone.


For those customers who may find using the internet difficult, there had been computers available in the reception areas along  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Asbestos Management Plan pdf icon PDF 154 KB

This report provides Members with an interim update on the Asbestos Safety Management Plan.


            The Group Head of Residential Services presented her update report and outlined that the Council as a Landlord of social housing has responsibility for managing the maintenance and repairs of its housing stock, including managing asbestos in each property.


            She advised that the Control of Asbestos Regulations had come into effect from April 2012, with the aim to protect workers and other people from the potential dangers of asbestos. Explaining that duty holders must take reasonable steps to find materials in premises likely to contain asbestos and check their condition, make and maintain a record of location and condition of asbestos, assess the likelihood of anyone being exposed to asbestos and manage that risk accordingly.


            In summing up she explained that Members would receive a fully updated Asbestos Policy and Management Plan at the December meeting of this Working Group.


Members had a full discussion on the update provided, the key points raised were:

§  Members sought clarification on the categorisation for different risk levels for the different forms of asbestos and it was confirmed that it would be clearly defined in the next update.

§  Thanks, was given to The Group Head of Residential Services in particular the work and change that she had driven since joining the Council was expressed as amazing and this was evidenced by the great results that had been achieved by her team.

§  A request to understand how near the Council was to be being compliant in respect of asbestos was made. It was confirmed that this information would be shared at the next meeting as part of the Health & Safety update report.


The Chairman thanked the Group Head of Residential Services for her report and the Working Group noted the report update.



Report back from Cabinet/Full Council

No recommendations were put forward at the previous two meetings.


No queries or questions on recommendations that had been forwarded from the Working Group to Full Council on 7 February 2019 were raised.


Work Programme 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 15 KB

To approve the work programme for 2019/20.


The Group Head of Neighbourhood Services presented the Work Programme for 2019/20 to members.


            Members put forward a number of suggestions to be considered, these are listed below:

§  Council Housing Stock update to be provided in December in particular confirming the Council being fully compliant across all Health & Safety areas by November 2019.

§  Invitation to have Stone Pillow and Turning Tides attend one of these meetings to provide an update, as there is concern that when the West Sussex County Council (WSCC) cuts are implemented in November that these will impact the District significantly.

§  An update on the number of Empty Homes within the district was requested as members were aware that the figure reported at 7 February 2019 meeting of 416 had now increased to 600. It was confirmed an update on this report is due to be presented to the Working Group in February 2020.

§  Members were keen to confirm if the Working Group would have the opportunity to influence the Allocations Review Policy before it was presented at the February 2020 meeting. The Group Head of Residential Services confirmed that a briefing session could be arranged for members to attend.

§  The Energy Efficiency and Fuel Poverty report also due in February 2020 would Carbon Emissions be addressed within this report.


Following consideration, the Working Group




That the Housing & Customer Services Working Group Work Programme for 2019/20 be approved.