Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 19th December, 2017 6.30 pm

Venue: Civic Centre, High Road, Wood Green, N22 8LE

Contact: Christian Scade, Principal Scrutiny Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

41.

Filming at Meetings

Please note that this meeting may be filmed or recorded by the Council for live or subsequent broadcast via the Council’s internet site or by anyone attending the meeting using any communication method. Although we ask members of the public recording, filming or reporting on the meeting not to include the public seating areas, members of the public attending the meeting should be aware that we cannot guarantee that they will not be filmed or recorded by others attending the meeting. Members of the public participating in the meeting (e.g. making deputations, asking questions, making oral protests) should be aware that they are likely to be filmed, recorded or reported on. 

 

By entering the meeting room and using the public seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings.

 

The chair of the meeting has the discretion to terminate or suspend filming or recording, if in his or her opinion continuation of the filming, recording or reporting would disrupt or prejudice the proceedings, infringe the rights of any individual or may lead to the breach of a legal obligation by the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair referred Members present to agenda Item 1 as shown on the agenda in respect of filming at this meeting, and Members noted the information contained therein’.

42.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted apologies for absence had been received from Cllr Ann Waters and Cllr Vincent Carroll.

43.

Urgent Business

The Chair will consider the admission of any late items of urgent business (late items will be considered under the agenda item where they appear. New items will be dealt with as noted below).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted Homes for Haringey had recently put safety measures in place on the Broadwater Farm estate following test result findings highlighting several low-rise blocks had not met required building regulations for large panel system blocks with gas supplies. The Chair informed the Panel that an urgent update on these issues would be considered at the meeting.

 

44.

Declarations of interest

A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a prejudicial interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered:

 

(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent, and

(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must withdraw from the meeting room.

 

A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Register of Members’ Interests or the subject of a pending notification must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.

 

Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal interests and prejudicial interests are defined at Paragraphs 5-7 and Appendix A of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

45.

Deputations/Petitions/Presentations/Questions

To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, Section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

46.

Minutes - 2 October 2017 pdf icon PDF 615 KB

To approve the minutes of the Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 2 October 2017.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

AGREED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 2 October 2017 be approved as a correct record.

47.

Minutes - 7 November 2017

To note that the minutes of the meeting held on 7 November 2017 will be reported to the next meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that the minutes of the meeting held on 7 November 2017 would be reported to the next meeting.

48.

Amendment to the Order of Business

Additional documents:

Minutes:

AGREED: That a New Item of Urgent Business, concerning Broadwater Farm Gas and Fire Safety, be taken before agenda item 8, Preparation for the Homelessness Reduction Act.  

 

Clerks note – the minutes follow the order of the meeting.

 

49.

New items of urgent business - Broadwater Farm Gas and Fire Safety

To consider any items admitted at item 3 above.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Chris Liffen, Interim Managing Director, informed the Panel that Homes for Haringey had recently put safety measures in place on the Broadwater Farm estate. Mr Liffen explained test result findings had shown several of the low-rise blocks had not met required building regulations for large panel system blocks with gas supplies.

 

The Panel was assured affected residents had been contacted to explain safety measures being taken following the review into the blocks. It was noted around 1,400 people across 725 properties had been affected.

 

Mr Liffen explained following national advice, given by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Homes for Haringey had started investigations into the construction of the estate which had been built in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Panel was informed that reviews from structural engineers had suggested some blocks did not meet required standards to use gas. It was noted that although the risk was very low, Homes for Haringey had taken a number of precautionary steps to enable residents to stay in their homes.

 

The Panel was asked to note that the blocks affected, housing both council tenants and some leaseholders, were Croydon, Hawkinge, Hornchurch, Lympne, Manston, Martlesham, Rochford, Debden and Stapleford. In addition, it was noted that the two tower blocks on the estate, Northolt and Kenley, did not have gas supplies while Tangmere was of a completely different construction to the low rise blocks. However, as a precaution, Mr Liffen explained that structural surveyors were reviewing these blocks with results expected soon.

 

The Panel was informed that Homes for Haringey would visit affected properties to arrange to cap off supplies for gas cookers and to replace them with electric cookers. It was noted that the team would work as quickly as possible and aimed to have the cookers replaced by Christmas, subject to staff gaining access to properties. In response to questions, Mr Liffen advised that as a precaution, the team would also be fitting interrupter valves in order to switch off the gas if a leak was detected and would increase the frequency of gas safety visits. It was noted that a gas safety check would be carried out for free in each leased home and that there were plans to replace the gas system temporarily until a permanent measure could be put in place.

 

The Panel noted that this was an uncertain time for Broadwater Farm residents but welcomed the steps that had been taken by both the Council and Homes for Haringey, including:

 

-       Holding meetings with the residents’ association, knocking on doors on the estate, and distributing letters informing residents of the changes.   

 

-       The setting up of a dedicated phone line for effected residents.

 

-       The drop-in centre at the community centre

 

-       The sharing of information with community representatives on the estate.

 

-       The large staff presence that had been on hand and available for discussion. 

 

-       The briefings and work that had taken place with colleagues from the police and fire  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

Preparation for the Homelessness Reduction Act

The Panel will receive a presentation from Denise Gandy, Executive Director of Housing Demand, Homes for Haringey, and Alan Benson, Head of Housing Strategy and Commissioning, Haringey Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a presentation from Alan Benson, Head of Housing Strategy and Commissioning, Haringey Council, and Denise Gandy, Executive Director of Housing Demand, Homes for Haringey. 

 

Ms Gandy commenced the presentation by explaining the Homelessness Reduction Act received Royal Assent in April 2017 and that it would be implemented in April 2018. The following points were noted:

 

-       It was the first major change to homeless legislation in 15 years and the most significant in 40 years.  

 

-       Rather than replacing existing legislation, the Act created additional duties, relating to prevention (prevent more people from becoming homeless in the first place by identifying people at risk and intervening earlier) and relief (intervene rapidly if a homelessness crisis occurs, so it is brief and non-recurrent).

 

In response to questions, the Panel was informed that if prevention and relief activity failed then the usual tests (priority need and intentional homelessness) would be applied to ascertain if the person was owed the full homelessness duty.

 

In terms of the duty to provide advisory services, Ms Gandy explained that this required free homelessness advice and information services to be provided to all residents and for advice to be designed with certain vulnerable groups in mind, including care leavers, former armed forces, people leaving custody, victims of domestic abuse, people leaving hospital and people with mental health issues. The Panel noted that the advice must include:

 

-       Prevention on homelessness

 

-       Securing accommodation when homeless

 

-       The rights of applicants and local authority duties

 

-       Help available to people threatened with homelessness

 

-       How to access available help         

 

In response to questions, Ms Gandy explained the legislation would extend the period during which someone might be threatened with homelessness from 28 days to 56 days. In addition, it was noted an applicant would be threatened with homelessness if they had been served a valid section 21 notice to end the Assured Shorthold Tenancy of their only available accommodation, that had expired or would expire within 56 days.

 

In terms of assessments and personalised housing plans, the Panel was informed that:

 

-       Local authorities needed to carry out an assessment of circumstances and needs of all eligible applicants within 56 days.

 

-       The assessment should include circumstances leading to the threat of homelessness, housing needs and support needs.  

 

-       Following the assessment, a Personalised Housing Plan would be drawn up to set out the “reasonable steps” the authority and the applicant would take (and other agencies/people as appropriate).

 

The Panel was informed that “reasonable steps” should be tailored to the individual and that the plan should be realistic. In response to questions about prevention and relief the Panel was informed that: 

 

-       Prevention Duty 

o   Local housing authorities (LHAs) must take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness for any at risk eligible applicant, regardless of priority need. It was noted that this could involve assisting applicants to stay in their current accommodation, or helping them to find a new place to live.

 

-       Relief Duty

o  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Scrutiny of the Draft 5 Year Medium Term Financial Strategy (2018/19 - 2022/23) pdf icon PDF 313 KB

To consider and comment on the Council’s draft 5 year (2018/19 to 2022/23) Medium Term Financial Strategy proposals relating to the Scrutiny Panel’s remit (Priority 4 and Priority 5).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Rita Bacheta, Senior Business Partner, introduced the report as set out. The Panel considered and noted the information set out in Appendix A (key lines of enquiry for budge setting), Appendix B (Medium Term Financial Strategy), Appendix C (2017 Budget (Savings) Proposals) and Appendix D (Overview and Scrutiny Recommendations from 2017).

 

The Panel went on to consider the (new) budget proposals for Corporate Plan Priority 4 (P4) and Corporate Plan Priority 5 (P4), as set out in Appendix E of the report.

 

In addition to the comments below, the Panel raised concerns about the limited financial information provided in the report. 

 

Consultancy Spend (Tottenham Regeneration)

 

The Panel was informed that following a detailed review of the overall Tottenham Regeneration Programme budget, savings from the General Fund (£50k) had been identified from 2018/19 on consultancy spend. It was noted proposed savings followed a detailed review with budget holders in order to determine what spend could be delayed or reduced to meet savings the Council was required to make. Officers explained that the impact of reduced spend on consultants would mean that progression of regeneration schemes or projects might be delayed.

 

Reduction in Housing Related Support Budget  

 

The Panel was informed that this was a budget that commissioned services rather than council employees. It was noted that the current budget (2017/18) still included funding that was due to be transferred to Adults Services following the implementation of the Housing Related Support Review. It was explained that the split was as follows: £4,654k to Adults Services with £3,999k to remain in Housing Related Support. In terms of savings offered it was noted that there would be potential savings for 2018/19 of approx. £50k by bringing monitoring roles back into the Housing Related Support team from Homes for Haringey. It was also noted that additional savings, of approx. £120k in 2019/20, would be achieved by recommissioning community based homelessness prevention work.

 

In addition to the issues above, a number of topics were considered in relation to the budget strategy for P4 and P5, consultancy spend for Wood Green Regeneration, the Council’s capital strategy and programme, and the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). During the discussion, the Panel highlighted the possibility of setting an in-principle target of zero for consultancy spend.

 

The Chair concluded the item by thanking everyone for their contributions.

 

AGREED:

 

1.    That further information on the Consultancy Spend for Tottenham Regeneration be made available for consideration by OSC on 29 January before final budget scrutiny recommendations are made. This should include information on how the budget was spent in 2017/18 and what the budget will be used for during 2018/19.

 

2.    That a full breakdown of the P4 and P5 budget, for April 2018 – March 2023, be made available for consideration by OSC on 29 January before final budget scrutiny recommendations are made. This should include information on the capital strategy and HRA.

 

3.    That further information on the Consultancy Spend for Wood Green Regeneration be made available for consideration by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.

52.

Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 168 KB

This report gives details of the proposed scrutiny work programme for the remainder of the municipal year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Christian Scade, Principal Scrutiny Officer, provided an update on the proposed work programme for the remainder of the 2017/18 municipal year.

 

During the discussion a range of issues were considered in relation to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). In response to questions, Emma Williamson, Assistant Director for Planning, suggested BNP Paribas be asked to attend a future Member Learning and Development session to explain the methodology for assessing viability for CIL setting and the reasons behind not recommending a rise in North Tottenham. The Panel agreed that this would be useful and asked that the delay to the increase in the CIL at Tottenham Hale be included.

 

AGREED: That subject to the comments above, the areas of inquiry outlined  in Appendix A of the Work Programme Update be approved and recommended for endorsement by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

53.

Dates of Future Meetings

To note the dates of future Panel meetings:

 

-       13 March 2018

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair referred Members present to item 12 as shown on the agenda in respect of future meeting dates, and Members noted the information contained therein’.