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Agenda and minutes

The Former Cabinet Member for Housing and Environmental Services - Oct 2000 to May 2005
Friday, 30th July, 2004 9.00 a.m.

Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.

Contact: Dawn Mitchell, 01709 822062  Email: dawn.mitchell@rotherham.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

35.

Representation on Outside Bodies/Panels

- to note Environment Scrutiny Panel’s nominations

Minutes:

Consideration was given to Minute No. 7 of the Environment Scrutiny Panel held on 1st July, 2004 in respect of nominations to Outside Bodies.

 

Resolved:-  That the nominations be noted.

36.

Licensing Reform

Minutes:

(Councillors Senior and Wootton attended the meeting for consideration of this item.)

 

Consideration was given to a report presented by the Senior Licensing Officer, updating Members on the progress of the Licensing Act and the steps being taken by the Council in preparation for the forthcoming changes.

 

It was pointed out that the Council was required to prepare and publish a Statement of Licensing Policy which must encompass the following four objectives:-

 

-                      prevention of crime and disorder

-                      public safety

-                      prevention of public nuisance

-                      protection of children from harm

 

It was reported that consideration was now being given to training for Elected Members and officers at the beginning of January 2005.  In accordance with the guidance issued a draft policy was now in place with which to carry out the required consultation.  The report included a list of mandatory consultees that the Local Authority must consult with prior to publishing a Statement of Licensing Policy.

 

Reference was made to the six months timescale.  The Chair of the Licensing Board added that it was proposed to liaise with the neighbouring South Yorkshire Local Authorities to ensure that there was a standard policy across the boundaries.

 

It was confirmed that the fees would be determined by Government and were intended to cover full administration and enforcement costs and should therefore be a neutral cost to the Council after an initial twelve months period.

 

The Assistant Solicitor clarified issues in respect of possible conditions that could be imposed on a licence.

 

Resolved:-  (1) That the report be received and approval given to consult upon the draft Statement of Licensing Policy, with not less than the persons/bodies listed in the scheme of proposed consultees.

 

(2)  That a process of awareness raising commence immediately with a briefing paper being provided for all Members.

 

(3)  That a seminar for all Members be arranged for September 2004.

 

(4)  That training for members be arranged for January 2005.

37.

A.L.M.O. Excellence Plan

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Transformation Team Officer, relating to the progress of the ALMO Excellence Plan.

 

It was reported that the Plan was the tool that would drive forward and monitor the transformation of Housing Management and Repairs Services into an ALMO structure.  The work needed to be robust to deliver excellent services to customers through Neighbourhood Management.

 

Members’ attention was drawn to the following key objectives:-

 

·                    ALMO is established and in place by 31 March 2005.

·                    Tenants are at the heart of the decision process and play a principal role in shaping future service delivery.

·                    Delivering a continuously improving, high performing, customer focused service.

·                    The ALMO has a long term strategy for the delivery of neighbourhood management beyond the delivery of decent homes

·                    Ensuring services demonstrate value for money to customers, through the application of competition and procurement

 

It was pointed out that the Audit Commission would carry out an indicative ALMO inspection in September 2004 and this plan would assist them in their assessment of how much progress had been made.  The Plan would be used to monitor and record progress and be regularly updated to reflect milestones and measures achieved.  The Plan would also support the objective of achieving a two/three star rating of services to enable the ALMO to access funding to achieve Decency by 2010.

 

The Executive Director, Housing and Environmental Services, highlighted the following:-

 

-                      timescale for setting up Area Boards

-                      the need to progress and clarify a marketing, branding and PR Strategy

 

Members raised the following issues:-

 

-                      training for members of the Area Boards

-                      experience of other Local Authorities

 

It was pointed out that there were regular meetings to identify and discuss issues and that the Plan would be updated continuously.

 

Resolved:-  That the ALMO Excellence Plan be noted.

38.

Repairs and Maintenance Service Improvement Plan

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Head of Housing Services relating to the latest version of the above Plan.

 

It was pointed out that following the Repairs and Maintenance Inspection in February 2004 the Plan now reflected issues raised by the Audit Commission.

 

Members were advised that the Plan had four key objectives, with a range of tasks and Task Managers identified to deliver changes.

 

The Executive Director, Housing and Environmental Services, drew Members’ attention to the timescale of September 2004, given by the Audit Commission, in which to put in place a procurement strategy.  It was proposed that an options paper be prepared.  Reference was made to the individual actions required and to the amount of work associated to address these issues.

 

Resolved:-  That the Repairs and Maintenance Service Improvement Plan be noted.

39.

Staff Recognition Framework

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Performance and Development Officer, relating to steps being taken to develop and implement a Staff Recognition Framework to motivate and recognise staff for their contribution to the strategic objectives of the Programme Area.

 

It was pointed out that the key to the framework was to align recognition to performance.

 

The proposals included a formal recognition process together with flexibility and more informal practices.

 

Examples of the proposals were set out in the report which would culminate in an annual conference in April 2005.

 

Resolved:-  That the implementation of the Staff Recognition Framework be agreed.

40.

Update Report - Petition from the Residents of Henley

Minutes:

In accordance with Minute No. 177 of 22nd December, 2003, the Head of Housing Services submitted a report on the investigations that had taken place in relation to the allegations of anti-social behaviour made by residents of Henley.

 

Three Acceptable Behaviour Contracts had been served in response to complaints from residents.  There had been a significant improvement in the situation and local Ward Member surgeries had been established jointly with Housing Services and South Yorkshire Police.

 

Resolved:-  That the report be received and the action taken be noted.

41.

Update Report - Petition from Residents at Turner Close, Parkgate

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 302 of 27th January, 2003, consideration was given to a report, presented by the Head of Housing Services, relating to a petition received from residents of Turner Close, Parkgate requesting improved security measures due to youth nuisance and increased incidents of domestic burglary.

 

The report detailed the measures taken following an assessment by the Crime Reduction Officer.

 

It was also reported that in addition Neighbourhood Wardens and the Police had worked together to fit alarms to doors and windows, and additional patrols by the Wardens and Police had also been requested.

 

Members were advised that since the work had been completed residents had expressed a sense of security and wellbeing and had become more settled.  Also the demand for these properties had improved and there had been fewer requests for transfers.

 

Members asked that feedback from residents be documented and a brief report on the success of the action taken to be provided for the Chief Executive.

 

Resolved:-  (1) That the report be noted.

 

(2)  That a briefing note on the success of the measures taken be provided for the Chief Executive.

42.

Update Report - Petition from Residents regarding Drainage Problems at Wharton Avenue, Swallownest

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 14(2) of 28th June, 2004, the Head of Housing Services submitted a report on the investigations that had taken place in relation to the problems being experienced with drainage problems at a number of properties in Swallownest.

 

Members were asked to consider a proposal to install approximately 34m of channel grate along the full length of the embankment, which would be connected to the main drain.  It was noted that the work was not classified as the tenant’s responsibility.

 

It was pointed out that a contribution from an owner-occupier would be sought.  The cost of the remedial work would be met from the External Drainage Repair Budget.

 

It was noted that the work would impact on the lifespan of the properties and encourage tenants to sustain their tenancies.

 

Resolved:-  That the proposed action, detailed in the report, be agreed.

43.

Choice Based Lettings

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Head of Housing Services, relating to work in progress on the concept of choice based lettings.

 

It was pointed out that an effective Choice-Based Lettings Scheme was an essential pre-requisite of an ALMO delivering excellent housing management services.

 

It was reported that there had been twenty-seven pilot schemes countrywide and the benefits were highlighted.  However, it was pointed out that appropriate and efficient IT was necessary in order to deliver such a scheme.  Reference was made to the Government target of 2010 which required all Allocation Schemes to be choice-based.

 

The report made reference to schemes operating in Sheffield and Oldham, and to the need for the proposed scheme to protect the rights of vulnerable and excluded groups. 

 

Members supported the principles of the proposed scheme, as detailed in the report, together with the possible link to the development of a Property Shop to deliver a range of services.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That approval be given in principal to the proposals for a Choice-based Lettings Policy.

 

(2)  That further feasibility work be undertaken on the proposal to develop a Property Shop able to provide other key services.

 

(3)  That officers develop further matters relating to the approach to Choice-Based Lettings, and procedures, and submit a final report prior to implementation.

44.

Additional Funding for Public Sector Adaptations

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 30 of 19th July, 2004, consideration was given to a report, presented by the Acting Principal Grants Officer, relating to the current financial position of public sector adaptations, and confirming the requirement for further urgent additional funding.

 

Approvals in the first four months of 2004/2005 had totalled the full commitment of the allocated budget for the reasons set out in the report submitted.

 

Members were advised that, following the decision made on 19th July 2004, it was estimated that £350,000 was required to address the current situation regarding public sector adaptations, and a further requirement of £50,000 for private sector discretionary approvals.

 

The Executive Director of Housing and Environmental Services reported that the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources was to head up a Base Budget Review which would look at the capital and revenue programme for all Programme Areas.  It was proposed that discussions take place with Social Services with a view to a report being submitted to the Corporate Management Team to feed into the Base Budget Review identifying pressures, planning issues, and issues in respect of lifetime homes, and which ultimately would lead to a reduction in adaptation requirement.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the report be accepted.

 

(2)  That approval be given for additional funding of £350,000 for public sector adaptations.

 

(3)  That the course of action proposed by the Executive Director be endorsed.

45.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following items are likely to be considered in the absence of the press and public as being exempt under those paragraphs, indicated below, of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972:-

Minutes:

Resolved:-  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 they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in those paragraphs, indicated below, of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.

46.

Update Report - Petition from Residents of Laudsdale Road, East Herringthorpe

(Exempt under Paragraph 7 of the Act – business affairs of any other person other than the Authority)

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 366 of 7th April, 2003, the Head of Housing Services reported on the present position regarding the petition submitted by residents of Laudsdale Road in respect of anti-social behaviour.

 

Members were advised that the situation had been monitored since and no further problems had been reported.  It was also reported that before the case was closed residents would be consulted.

 

Resolved:  That the report be received and noted.

 

(Exempt under Paragraph 7 of the Act – report related to the financial/business affairs of someone except the Council)

47.

Disposal of Almond Place Sheltered Scheme, Wath

(Exempt under Paragraphs 3, 4 and 9 of the Act – accommodation provided by the Council/services provided by the Authority/negotiation of terms)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Housing Manager, relating to the proposed disposal of Almond Place Sheltered Housing scheme.

 

Members were advised of the general decline in demand for sheltered housing, particularly in schemes like Almond Place (“inside schemes”) where residents occupy flats within the same building and share communal facilities.  It was reported that 12 of the 19 units were currently vacant.

 

It was reported that Social Services had been consulted regarding potential alternative use but the building was considered unsuitable due to the following reasons:-

 

-                                  poor appearance and design

-                                  undesirable location

-                                  lack of parking

-                                  poor immediate estate environment

-                                  non-compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act

 

A plan of the building and its immediate surrounds was displayed at the meeting.

 

It was pointed out that a visit and discussions with the Ward Members had taken place.  It was stated that at this stage there was no intention to dispose of the site because the surrounding estate had potential for a major regeneration scheme and was within the Pathfinder.

 

Details of the finance involved was set out in the report.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That authorisation be given to the rehousing of the remaining seven tenants from Almond Place Sheltered Housing Scheme, together with the payment of Homeloss and Disturbance payment.

 

(2)  That the decommissioning and securing of Almond Place pending future regeneration proposals be approved.

 

(3)  That the inclusion of £127,000 in the 2004/2005 Housing Investment Programme be approved.

 

(Exempt under Paragraphs 3, 4 and 9 of the Act – report related to accommodation provided by the Council; Services provided by the Council and terms for the sale of property)

48.

Multi-Agency Witness Mobility Scheme

(Exempt under Paragraph 8 of the Act – supply of goods or services)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Head of Housing Services, informing Members of the National Multi-Agency Witness Mobility Scheme which was designed to reduce fear and distress experienced by intimidated witnesses.  The scheme was intended to provide fast track relocation and support service to enable individuals, who were subject to intimidation, to continue to support the criminal justice system and thereby successfully reduce crime and fear of crime.

 

Resolved:-  That approval be given to becoming a signatory to the Multi-Agency Witness Mobility Scheme.

 

(Exempt under Paragraph 8 of the Act – report related to proposed supply of goods or services)

49.

Development of a Home Improvement Agency (H.I.A.) in Rotherham

(Exempt under Paragraph 8 of the Act – supply of goods or services)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report, presented by the Acting Principal Grants Officer – Housing Services, relating to the development of a Home Improvement Agency in Rotherham.

 

The Cabinet Member was asked to consider approving in principle the creation and development of a Home Improvement Agency to provide additional funding and services beyond those already provided by Housing and Social Services.

 

The report detailed the purpose of the proposed HIA and the core activities were explained as:-

 

-                       to provide advice

-                       financial assistance

-                       administration

-                       technical assistance

-                       monitoring and support

 

Examples of other services the HIA could provide were also given in the report.

 

A breakdown of the funding being sought to establish the HIA in 2005/2006 was also reported.

 

Resolved:-  That agreement be given, in principle, to the development of a Home Improvement Agency in Rotherham to complement existing services.

 

(Exempt under Paragraph 8 of the Act – report related to proposed expenditure)

50.

Public and Private Sector Applications Exceeding Delegated Powers

(Exempt under Paragraphs 4, 5 and 8 of the Act – information relates to services provided by the Council, financial assistance provided by the Council and the supply of goods or services)

Minutes:

The Head of Housing Services submitted 3 Disabled Facilities Grants (private sector) and 1 Disabled Facilities Adaptations (public sector) for consideration.

 

1.  Private Sector Applications

 

Resolved:-  That application Nos. 17853, 18381 and 17868 be approved in the sum of £80,084.17

 

(i)  substantially in accordance with plans and specifications submitted by the Head of Housing Services.

 

(ii)  within a period of 12 months of the application being approved.

 

2.  Public Sector Applications

 

Resolved:-  That the application No. 17773 be approved in the sum of £26,324.29

 

(Exempt under Paragraphs 4, 5 and 8 of the Act – report contained names and addresses of applicants requesting related financial assistance from the Council)

51.

Entering into Discussions with N.A.S.S. for Post 2005 Contract

(Exempt under Paragraph 9 of the Act – information relates to terms being negotiated for a contract)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report presented by the Team Leader, relating to the need to negotiate a new contract.

 

It was reported that the Yorkshire and Humberside Consortium of Local Authorities had prepared a template report (appended to the report now submitted) which detailed four options.  Each of the options was explained.

 

The Cabinet Member was advised that the Consortium had expressed a preference for Level 2 (partially delegated model).

 

Resolved:-  (1) That the recommendations set out at Section 7 of the Template report be supported.

 

(2)  That the report be submitted to the Cabinet requesting a recommendation to Council that authority be given to enter into formal negotiations with NASS.

 

(Exempt under Paragraph 9 of the Act – report related to proposed terms of a contract)