Agenda and draft minutes

Housing & Customer Services Working Group
Thursday 5th November 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - Pink Room. View directions

Contact: Carley Lavender (Ext 37547) 

Items
No. Item

10.

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

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

11.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Housing & Customer Services Working Group held on XX XXXX XXXX as attached/as previously circulated.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 July 2020 were approved as a correct record by the Working Group and will be signed by the Chairman as soon as practicably possible.

12.

Additional and Selective Licensing Schemes for Houses in Multiple Occupation pdf icon PDF 393 KB

At the meeting of Full Council on 25 February 2020 a motion was received from the Liberal Democrat Group in accordance with Council procedure 14.1 and 14.2 which stated: -

“The Council is asked to support a request for officers to explore what options might exist for introducing further controls on the definition, number and quality of homes in Multiple Occupation and prepare appropriate reports for the relevant decision body of the Council”.

The report provides information and looks at the options to introduce an additional licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation or a selective licensing scheme for the private rented sector as a means of addressing the quality of houses in multiple occupation. The advantages and disadvantages of these schemes are explored within the report and recommendations are made in relation to the most appropriate course of action.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

          The Group Head of Technical Services advised Members of the Working Group that the report presented to them was as a result of a motion that was approved at the Full Council Meeting on 25 February 2020 that requested Officers to explore what options existed to introduce further controls on the number and quality of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). He advised that the report set out options to introduce an additional licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation or a selective licensing scheme for the private rented sector as a means of addressing the quality of houses in multiple occupation. A separate report is being taken to Development Control Committee in relation to the potential controls for managing the quantity of HMOs. The Principal Environmental Officer then drew members attention to the following points contained within the report:

 

·       Currently operate a mandatory Licensing scheme that is shared nationally across England that currently works with the criteria of:

o   5 or more people sharing facilities

o   ensuring the licence holder is a fit and proper person

o   property inspected to ensure it meets minimum standards

o   the licence is up to maximum of 5 years at a time

·       Additional Licensing schemes could be brought in where a local authority is aware that there are significant problems. The authority would need to expand the description of HMO’s to be broader. The regime would be similar, and the advantages are outlined within the report it would enable us to inspect properties ensuring that they are brough up to standard and puts the onus on the landlord.

·       If we were to take this route there would be a 10-week consultation period

·       Selective licensing scheme would apply to the entire private rented sector not just HMOs and applies to areas with significant issues such as migration, high levels of deprivation or an increase in crime rates, these issues would need to be evidenced in these areas in order to introduce this option. If such a scheme was to apply to the entire district, then it would require approval from the secretary of state. The Selective licensing scheme does have a larger scope.

 

The Group head then reminded Members that funding was required to research, if there was sufficient evidence of the criteria being met for either an Additional Licensing or Selective Licensing.

 

The Chairman then invited questions from Members of the Working Group a summary of the points raised is detailed below:

 

·       Why had there not been more frequent inspections since 2012? It was explained that since 2012 proactive inspections of the private rented sector had only taken place in licensed HMOs, though other inspections had been undertaken where problems had been brought to the attention of the Council.

·       Are there other seaside towns we could share best practices with? It was confirmed that Arun had been in contact with Brighton and Hove Council and could link up with them to learn more about their best practice process, however it was also highlighted that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Customer Services Strategy pdf icon PDF 306 KB

This report briefly reviews progress on the implementation of the new Customer Services Strategy.  This follows a report taken to the working group in September 2019 which set out the process of implementation of the Strategy and how this would be embedded into the organisation.

The report presents the revised draft Strategy together with setting out the next steps prior to recommending the strategy to Cabinet and Full Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Group Head of Neighbourhood Services provided Members of the Working Party with an overview of his report. It was explained that the strategy also included the addition of a customer charter. He then highlighted that a reoccurring theme throughout the strategy was the importance of obtaining and acting on feedback to drive the strategy forward. An action plan had been included to help embed the strategy. He then explained that the pandemic had really highlighted the importance and significance of the role that a digital service provides for customers. In Summing up he advised Members that consultation had been sought with both senior management and staff and that the next step was to take the strategy to Cabinet once the draft had been finalised.

 

          The Working Group noted the contents of the report.

 

14.

Water Hygiene Policy & Management Plan pdf icon PDF 146 KB

This report seeks approval for the adoption of the Water Safety Policy in respect of Council housing stock.

 

Housing and Customer Services Working Group is asked to recommend to Cabinet:

 

·      the adoption of the Water Safety Policy 2020

·       to give delegated authority to the Group Head of Residential Services in conjunction with the Cabinet Member for Residential Services to make minor changes to the policy and plan

Additional documents:

Minutes:

          The Group Head of Residential Services provided Members with an overview of her report. She explained that the Water Hygiene Policy had been compiled to ensure that the Council could comply with regulations and manage any risks for all its properties as well as clearly setting out the Councils responsibilities and its Contractors responsibilities.

 

          The Chairman then invited comments from Members and a summary of key points raised is below:

 

  • It was advised that an electrical safety policy would be brought to the Working Group in February 2021 and it was confirmed that a specialist contractor was used to identify any risks and undertake work. Some further questions were asked in relation to the removal of lead piping being removed and replaced with plastic. Advice was given that this level of detail is covered within the terms and conditions during the procurement of the contractor and would be documented within their risk assessments which would be separate from the policy.
  • It was asked if anyone had contracted any of the illnesses detailed within the policy and could it be proven that it was from the water. It was confirmed that there had certainly not been any cases during the Group Head of Residential Services time with the Council, she further explained that weekly and monthly testing was completed by contractors and so the Council would be aware very quickly should there be an outbreak, that would require action to be taken.

 

                     The Working Group RECOMMEND TO CABINET that:

 

2)    the Water Safety Policy 2020 be adopted

3)    delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Residential Services in conjunction with the Cabinet Member for Residential Services to make minor changes to the policy and plan

 

15.

Gas Safety Policy & Management Plan pdf icon PDF 146 KB

This report seeks approval for the adoption of the Gas Safety Policy in respect of Council housing stock.

 

Housing and Customer Services Working Group is asked to recommend to Cabinet:

 

·      The adoption of the Gas Safety Policy October 2020

·       To give delegated authority to the Group Head of Residential Services in conjunction with the Cabinet Member for Residential Services to make minor changes to the policy

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Group Head of Residential Services provided Members of the Working Group with an overview of her report. It was explained that the policy had been complied to ensure that the Council could comply with the Regulatory Framework for Social Housing in England and that the request of the Working Group was for them to recommend to Cabinet this policy for approval to allow managers to implement with Council contractors and staff.

 

          The Chairman then invited comments from Members where it was discussed that under section 2.5 of the policy it referred to monitors to be fitted by 2021 and could that be extended to also dictate that batteries would be changed on an annual basis. Also, at section 2.6 it states that the Council would remove and isolate gas fires by December 2021, the question was asked if this meant all gas fires would be removed? It was confirmed that the Group Head of Residential Services would need to check but it was  her understanding that all gas fires would be removed and in reference to the request to document an annual change for batteries that it was already included in the safety checks.

 

          The Chairman then put forward a proposal which was seconded for the wording for part 2 of the recommendation to be amended to read as:

 

2)    delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Residential Services in conjunction with the Cabinet Member for Residential Services and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the H&CS Working Group to make minor changes to the policy

 

After a short discussion this proposal was put to the vote and declared CARRIED.

 

          The Working Group then returned to the substantive recommendation and RECOMMEND TO CABINET that:

 

1)  The Gas Safety Policy October 2020 be approved

2)  delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Residential Services in conjunction with the Cabinet Member for Residential Services and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the H&CS Working Group to make minor changes to the policy

 

16.

Report back from Cabinet/Full Council

The recommendations that were put forward at the last meeting of the Working Group on 21 July 2020 were presented at the Full Council Meeting on 16 September 2020.

 

            Minute 9 [Work Programme] which was to approve the Working Group’s Work Programme for the remainder of the Municipal Year 2020/21 which he formally proposed.  The recommendation was then seconded by Councillor Mrs Pendleton.

 

            The Council

 

                        RESOLVED

 

                        That the Work Programme for the Housing & Customer Services Working Group for 2020/21 be approved.

 

 

Minutes:

          The Chairman confirmed that the recommendations made at the Working Groups last meeting on 21 July 2020, were approved by Cabinet at their meeting on 21 September 2020.

 

          The working Group noted this update.

17.

Work Programme 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 14 KB

To review and consider any changes needed to the approved work programme for 2020/21.

Minutes:

The Group Head of Residential Services presented the work programme to Members advising that the electrical safety policy and the repairs policy would be brought to the Working Group in February 2021. Further to this she advised that the Income Recovery Policy was subject to a corporate review due to the breathing space policy that has been recently introduced.

 

The Working Group noted the update.