Agenda and draft minutes

Residential and Wellbeing Services Committee
Thursday 30th September 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LF. View directions

Contact: Andrew Bishop (Ext. 37984) 

Media

Items
No. Item

311.

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Minutes:

Apologies for Absence had been received from Councillors Needs and Daniells.

312.

Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are invited to make any declaration 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 items or as soon as the interest becomes apparent.

 

Members and Officers should make their declaration by stating:

 

a)             the item they have the interest in

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

c)             the nature of the interest

 

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest made.

313.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 220 KB

The Committee will be asked to approve as a correct record the minutes of the Residential and Wellbeing Services Committee held on 22 July 2021 and the Extraordinary Committee held on 19 August 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the previous meeting held on 22 July 2021 and the Minutes of the Extraordinary meeting held on 19 August 2021 were approved by the Committee and signed by the Chair.

314.

ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA THAT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MEETING IS OF THE OPINION SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS A MATTER OF URGENCY BY REASON OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Minutes:

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That Agenda Item 8 [Safer Arun Partnership Annual Review 2020-21] be heard after Agenda Item 5 [Public Question Time] due to the presence of a guest speaking on the item.

315.

Public Question Time

To receive questions from the public (for a period of up to 15 minutes).

Minutes:

The Chair invited questions from members of the public who had submitted their questions in advance of the meeting in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. The Chair confirmed that two questions had been submitted. The questions were asked and responded to by the Chair.

 

          (A schedule of the full questions asked and the responses provided can be found on the meeting’s webpage at: Arun District Council)

 

The Chair then drew Public Question Time to a close.

316.

Safer Arun Partnership Annual Review 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 576 KB

This report sets out the progress of the Safer Arun Partnership (SAP) during the period April 2020 to March 2021 in delivering the strategic priorities as contained in its Partnership Plan.  It provides information to enable Members to understand performance during the year allowing scrutiny of the partnership and provides a summary assessment of the future challenges and opportunities for SAP.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Community Safety Officer presented his report. He outlined the purpose of the report as the statutory annual scrutiny of the Safer Arun Partnership as Arun’s Local Community Safety Partnership. He confirmed that the Committee in leading on this statutory function would legislatively be the Local Authority’s Crime and Disorder Committee for the purposes of this report. In particular, he drew Members’ attention to the Safer Arun Partnership Plan 2020-21 [Appendix C in the Agenda Pack] and its strategic priorities which formed the basis of the work undertaken to try to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour across the District.

 

The Chair re-welcomed Sussex Police’s Chief Inspector Jon Carter, District Commander for Chichester and Arun, to the meeting. The Chief Inspector highlighted four findings from the report – the significant rise in anti-social behaviour over the period the report looked at in part due to the Pandemic and the restrictions imposed, the significant proportion violent crime continued to play in crime reported in the District, domestic abuse still accounting for a worrying percentage of all reported crime at about 22% and its impacts particularly to children and young people and links to homicide, and drugs harm and successes in tackling and disrupting county lines activity though this tactic did not account for all drug supply in the area.

 

The Chair expressed her thanks to the whole Safer Arun Partnership team and stressed that tackling domestic abuse was also the responsibility of Members through their community involvement. Councillor Mrs Cooper as Chair of the Safer Arun Partnership also offered her thanks to the team for the work involved in producing the report and to the wider membership of the partnership for their continued engagement.

 

Members then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:

·         whether more education was needed to tackle some of the underlying issues, particularly around domestic abuse and drugs

·         positive trends in the report, reference made to drugs trafficking and supply in the Strategic Intelligence Assessment 2021 Key Findings [Appendix B in the Agenda Pack]

 

The recommendations were then proposed and seconded.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED – to

 

1.    Endorse the work of the Safer Arun Partnership and the importance of partnership working in contributing to reducing anti-social behaviour and addressing crime and disorder in Arun.

 

2.    Recognise the work of the Safer Arun Partnership in contributing to the delivery of the Council’s strategic priority “supporting you if you need help”.

317.

Motion

The following Motion was submitted in accordance with Council Procedure 15.1 and 15.2 and referred to the Committee by Full Council on 15 September 2021.

 

Proposer:  Councillor Stanley

Seconder:  Councillor Bennett

 

This Council requests an officer report be produced exploring how we can further enhance our performance regarding Empty Homes, with an aim to bring even more of them back into use.

 

This report should include but not exclusively contain:-

1.      Council tax charged on Empty Homes with a view to exploring a potential sliding scale increase over time. A similar system is currently being used in Brighton and Hove.

2.      Council tax charged on Holiday Homes with a view to encourage owners to utilise their properties on at least an annual basis.

3.      A review of the incentives and services we (could) offer property owners to increase engagement with our Empty Homes Team and support tenant management issues and misconceptions.

 

4.      A review of how we promote our Empty Homes service and how we communicate success stories.

This Council acknowledges the potential financial impact of this work (both costs and income streams) well as the potential impact on officer resource and requests this information is included in the report.

 

Finally this Council requests a letter is sent to the relevant minister and local members of parliament requesting consideration is given to including Empty Homes that are brought back into use into the Housing Delivery targets for Local Authorities, and an option to co-sign this letter be given to all District Council Groups Leaders.

Minutes:

The Motion was referred to the Committee by Full Council on 15 September 2021. Upon the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Stanley as the Motion’s original proposer explained some background to the Motion (including that across the country there were 98,000 homeless families, 100,000 families in temporary accommodation and 268,000 empty homes), the need to review Arun’s approach to bringing empty homes back into use and whether the Council was committing appropriate resource to the issue.

 

Members then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:

·         empty homes not contributing to the local economy

·         the need to look at the holiday homes discount scheme

·         the need for long-term tenancies that could be provided by making empty homes available again and the positive effects to local economies

·         the negative impact empty homes in poor condition have on neighbourhoods, and associations with anti-social behaviour and vandalism

·         support for and the impact on homeless members of the community

 

The motion was then proposed and seconded.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED – That

 

1.    Council tax charged on Empty Homes be reviewed with a view to exploring a potential sliding scale increase over time. A similar system is currently being used in Brighton and Hove.

 

2.    Council tax charged on Holiday Homes be reviewed with a view to encourage owners to utilise their properties on at least an annual basis.

 

The Committee

 

RECOMMEND TO ENVIRONMENT AND NEIGHBOURHOOD SERVICES COMMITTEE – That

 

1.    A review be undertaken of the incentives and services we (could) offer property owners to increase engagement with our Empty Homes Team and support tenant management issues and misconceptions.

 

2.    A review be undertaken of how we promote our Empty Homes service and how we communicate success stories.

318.

Budget 2022/2023 Process pdf icon PDF 156 KB

The report provides a summary of the budget process for 2022/23 which the Committee is asked to note.

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Interim Group Head for Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer presented her report explaining that under the newly adopted Committee structure it was important that all Members be fully aware of the budget process. The process was approved by the Corporate Policy and Performance Committee at its meeting on 1 September 2021. She further explained that the report recognised the need for some resource switching in order to progress the Council’s priorities, and that projects brought forward must deliverable in 2022-23, must aim to be cost neutral and mindful of limited Officer time and support. It was also highlighted that the report was concerned with the General Fund as the Housing Revenue Account had a separate Business Plan which was being worked on alongside the budget.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

To note the budget setting process for 2022/23.

319.

Empty Homes Council Tax Premium pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Members are asked to consider increases to Council Tax premiums payable for long term empty properties.

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Senior Revenues Assistant presented this report which asked Members to consider maximising the Council Tax premium for empty homes from April 2022, in line with legislation that came in in 2020 with an aim of getting empty properties back into use.

 

Members (and one non-Committee Member) then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:

·         the benefits to residents rather than the Council as this was an incentive to get houses back into use

·         questions around the logistics of policing the policy and how the Council knows about empty properties in the District

·         specific types of property (retirement, for example) which could be difficult to sell but have restrictive criteria on purchasers

·         which constituted ‘furnished’ in real and legislative terms

·         whether other mechanisms, apart from homeowners applying for discounts, could be used for reporting empty homes, for example reporting by neighbours or whether utilities are connected

·         not wanting to penalise those who have inherited a house but at the time having a finite cut-off that triggers them to act

·         the importance of information in identifying opportunities to make houses available

·         the leniency around exceptions and the importance of promoting the services the Council provides

·         the shortness of timescales, particularly for houses vacant for a longer period of time that may require substantial work before being made available again

·         the need to communicate effectively given the scale of the impact it could have on residents

 

The recommendations were then proposed and seconded.

 

The Committee

 

RECOMMEND TO FULL COUNCIL - That

 

1.    An increase to the premium on long term empty properties be approved as follows:

        100% premium from 1 April 2022 for those properties which are empty for 2 years and over

        200% premium from 1 April 2022 for those properties which are empty for 5 years and over

        300% premium from 1 April 2022 for those properties which are empty for 10 years and over

 

2.    The Head of Residential Services be given delegated authority in exceptional circumstances to waive any premium on a case by case basis.

320.

Compliance Policies Approval pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Members are asked to approve new draft compliance policies to ensure landlords meet their legal and regulatory requirements in the following areas - Fire Safety, Gas Safety, Electrical Safety, Lift Safety, Asbestos Management, and Legionella.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the arrival of these policies and spoke of their benefit in ensuring residents could live safely in their homes and landlords met their legal and regulatory requirements. Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Interim Asset Manager presented his report explaining that the Council was under the regulatory notice of the Social Housing Regulator around compliance and building safety, that these policies aimed to be consistent and comprehensive and covered the Council’s legal and regulatory obligations to its Social Housing tenants.

 

Members (and one non-Committee Member) then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:

·         the Fire Safety policy and rules around furniture in foyer areas in sheltered housing

·         that these policies only applied where the Council was the landlord

·         praise for these policies being easy to understand

 

The recommendations were then proposed and seconded.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED - that

 

1.    The Fire Safety, Gas Safety, Electrical Safety, Lift Safety, Asbestos management and Legionella policies be approved for publication

 

2.    Delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Residential Services to make minor changes to the policies.

321.

Approval to Appoint a Roofing Contractor pdf icon PDF 31 KB

This report seeks approval to award a contract for roofing works for various properties following a tendering process and to approve the virement of £100,000 from the Kitchen and Bathroom programme budget to the Roofing budget to fund the project.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Interim Asset Manager presented his report.

 

The recommendation was then proposed and seconded.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

To approve awarding a contract for roofing works for various properties and to approve the virement of £100,000 from the Kitchen and Bathroom programme budget to the Roofing budget to fund the project. Both of these budgets are in the Housing Revenue Account Capital Programme.

322.

Outside Bodies

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Cooper provided a verbal update on the Sussex Police and Crime Panel. A written version was made available on the meeting’s webpage after the meeting.

323.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 39 KB

The Committee is required to note the Work Programme for 2021/22.

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Work Programme.

324.

Exempt Information

The Committee is asked to consider passing the following resolution: -

 

That under Section 100a (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and accredited representatives of newspapers be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act by virtue of the paragraph specified against the item.

 

Minutes:

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That under Section 100a (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and accredited representatives of newspapers be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act by virtue of the paragraph specified against the items.

325.

Approval to Appoint a Roofing Contractor - Exempt

This report seeks approval to award a contract for roofing works for various properties following a tendering process.

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Interim Asset Manager presented his report.

 

The recommendation was then proposed and seconded.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

To approve awarding a contract for roofing works for various properties and to approve the virement of £100,000 from the Kitchen and Bathroom programme budget to the Roofing budget to fund the project. Both of these budgets are in the Housing Revenue Account Capital Programme.

326.

Award of Section 44a Business Rates

Members to recommend that the relief be awarded.

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Senior Revenues Assistant presented this report which sought Members’ approval to award Section 44A Business Rate relief.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That business rate relief of £2163.31 be awarded.

327.

Council Tax Insolvency Write Offs over £5,001

This report seeks Members’ approval to write off outstanding council tax charges which are subject to insolvency action.

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Senior Revenues Assistant presented this report which sought Members’ approval to write off outstanding council tax charges which were subject to insolvency action.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That outstanding council tax charges totalling £42,766.51 which were subject to insolvency action, which prevented the Council from pursuing the debtor for payment, be written off.

328.

Business Rates Insolvency Write Offs over £10,001

This report seeks Members’ approval to write off outstanding business rate charges.

Minutes:

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Senior Revenues Assistant presented this report which sought Members’ approval to write off outstanding business rate charges.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That outstanding business rates and BID charges totalling £83,669.91 which were subject to insolvency action, which prevented the Council from pursuing the debtor for payment, be written off.