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Agenda and minutes

The Former Environment Scrutiny Panel - Oct 2000 to May 2005
Thursday, 23rd September, 2004 9.30 a.m.

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham

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

Items
No. Item

43.

Declarations of Interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made at the meeting.

44.

Questions from Members of the Public and Press

Minutes:

There were no members of the public or press present.

45.

Joint Trading Standards Committee Working Group

- to nominate a representative

Minutes:

A copy of the minutes of the meeting of the above Working Group held on 30th July, 2004, were circulated for information.

 

It was noted that there was a vacancy on the Group to be filled by Rotherham.

 

Resolved:-  That Councillor Hodgkiss be nominated as the Scrutiny Panel’s second representative on the Joint Trading Standards Committee Working Group.

46.

Restructuring of Housing and Environmental Services Programme Area pdf icon PDF 33 KB

- report of the Executive Director of Housing and Environmental Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Housing and Environmental Services  presented a report on the new structural arrangements for the Programme Area.

 

The proposed arrangements represented a radical reconfiguration recognising the significant progress made to improve quality of services and to address the challenges facing the Council in the medium term.  The main changes were:-

 

·                    You would see someone in charge in every neighbourhood

·                    More members of staff out on the streets problem solving and also preventing problems escalating

·                    Better co-ordination of activity and join forces with partners and other agencies to improve service to the public

·                    Target the Programme Area’s strengths and activity to ensure that they were used more actively where needed

·                    Crime and disorder and anti-social behaviour issues and the pulling together of those involved in tackling the work within the neighbourhood.

 

There were also two other issues that the restructuring would address.  Firstly, the ALMO.  The new structures would enable a smooth transition for service users from Council delivery to ALMO delivery.  Secondly, there had been suggestions as to how Area Assemblies and Community Planning could be improved.  The strengthening of the local community leadership role of Ward Members would be addressed by the mainstreaming of some of their activity through the structures.

 

The main features of the proposals were highlighted in particular the key challenges facing each Service Area.

 

A number of suggestions had been made on the new name for the Programme Area.  “Neighbourhoods” was the preferred option.  The name would reflect the Council’s efforts to deliver neighbourhood management and neighbourhood objectives across the Borough.  It was about places and people, neighbourhood and communities.

 

Discussion ensued on the restructuring proposals.  The following comments were made:-

 

·                    There would be savings in the region of £105,000 due, in part, to the “flatter” structure and less managers.  270 posts had been deleted due to the method of delivery being changed with 220 new posts being created.

 

·                    The Neighbourhood Management structures had been designed to reflect the number of stock as at 1st April, 2005 when it became the responsibility of the ALMO.

 

·                    The Executive Director was to consult with the Police Authority on their interaction with and contribution to the Neighbourhood Management Strategy.  A report was to be submitted to the Cabinet and Scrutiny setting out the way forward for the Council on neighbourhood management.  The Police were keen to work alongside the Council and Neighbourhood Wardens to tackle anti-social behaviour and exchange information to allow them to concentrate on the harder policing issues.  Discussions were taking place with regard to the Police devolving a number of Community Police Officers to work much more closer with Neighbourhood Managers in Area Assemblies.  A joint training programme was being devised.

 

·                    As part of the new arrangements the relationship with RBT would be examined as well as the ALMO having the right to revisit any contract the Council had and any service provided by the Council.  At the last inspection of the Repairs and Maintenance Services, RBT was found to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

Anti-Social Behaviour Policy and Summary of Procedures pdf icon PDF 69 KB

- report of the Head of Housing Services

Minutes:

The Anti-Social Behaviour Manager presented a report on the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (Section 12 introduced a new provision in the Housing Act 1996 (Section 218A)) which required public landlords to prepare a policy in relation to anti-social behaviour and a summary for dealing with occurrences of anti-social behaviour by 30th December, 2004.

 

The current anti-social behaviour procedures had been updated and a massive training exercise undertaken for the staff working at ground level as well as Community Constables and Environmental Services.

 

The proposed policy would also be considered by the ALMO Board.

 

Discussion ensued on the report with the following issues highlighted:-

 

·                    Members of the public suffering from anti-social behaviour should report it to their Local Housing Office, Environmental Services, the Police or any of the youth agencies.  Safer Estates meetings were held throughout the Area Assemblies where officers at ground level discussed complaints that had been received and considered the best way to help people.  If the complaint became particularly serious (there were threshold tests), they were referred to the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit.

 

·                    Anti-Social Behaviour Officers worked outside of normal office hours.

 

·                    Tenants on Introductory Tenancies were regularly visited.  The Anti-Social Behaviour Manager was hoping to visit as many Tenant and Residents Group as possible to assure them of what action could be taken and not to be afraid to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour. 

 

·                    There was a 24 hour telephone help line for witnesses together with alarms in their property and dictaphones. 

 

·                    If someone was evicted for anti-social behaviour it would be backed up with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.  There was support from the Courts in Rotherham should they be breached.  If there was any intimidation of a witness the perpetrator would be warned by one of the 2 Police Officers in the Unit and possibly arrested.

 

·                    A bid had been submitted for another Police Officer to join the Unit.

 

·                    There was a clause in a Right to Buy contract allowing the Council to tackle anti-social behaviour after purchase.

 

·                    Once an Anti-Social Behaviour Order had come to an end there was nothing to stop the Unit applying to Court for another Order with different prohibitions.

 

·                    Unless the Authority had a statutory obligation to rehouse someone under the Homeless Act they would not be rehoused if they had been the subject of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.  The Service would be working with Registered Social Landlords and private landlords with regard to a reciprocal agreement.

 

·                    The Neighbourhood Wardens had provided much support to the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit.  It was the intention to roll out learning points from the Wardens and pass onto the Neighbourhood Champions.  There were 3 years of external funding remaining for the Wardens at which point it would become mainstreamed.

 

·                    A meeting had been held with several Registered Social Landlords.  They did not have a specialised unit themselves and were very keen to tap into the Service.  The Unit currently had 3 cases from RSL’s.  A further meeting was to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

1st Quarter Performance Monitoring 2004/05 pdf icon PDF 23 KB

- report of the Head of Housing Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Performance and Development Officer submitted the 1st quarter performance report of 2004/05.

 

82% of Indicators were achieving their quarterly control target with action in place to ensure all the year end targets were achieved.  Despite targets being stretched, this was an improvement from the previous quarter where 76% of Indicators had met the outturn target.  Currently 83% of those performance indicators that related directly to the Comprehensive Performance Assessment were on track to meet the year end targets.

 

When compared to the All England figures, Housing Services had 2 Indicators that had moved up a quartile place with 6 remaining static compared to the same period last year.  Environmental Health had 2 that had moved up a quartile place, 4 having remained the same and 1 dropping a place, although in line with projected national trend.  The Programme Area currently had 6 Indicators in the top quartile compared to 3 Indicators at the same stage last year. 

 

An action plan had been developed utilising customer feedback to deliver improvements in both the short, medium and longer term which had already seen a rise in the level of satisfaction from 75.5% in March, 2004 to 80% in July, 2004.

 

The Programme Area’s performance management network had been externally validated by House Mark which had praised the strides forward made.

 

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

 

(2)  That the Scrutiny Panel’s congratulations be conveyed to staff on the excellent performance.

49.

ALMO Excellence Plan pdf icon PDF 17 KB

- report of Head of Housing Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Improvement Manager presented a report on the progress of the ALMO Excellence Plan which would drive forward and monitor the transformation of housing management and repairs services into an ALMO structure with the objective of delivery of excellent customer services through Neighbourhood Management.

 

The plan would help shape the ALMO structure, re-organise service and deliver excellent customer service through Neighbourhood Management.  It included recommendations from the Repairs and Maintenance Inspection in February, 2004, areas of weakness identified in the Best Value Review of Housing Management and gaps which were identified by the ‘Preparing for an Indicative ALMO Inspection’ focus group.

 

The monitoring process was very robust and had a Key Task Manager being responsible for the accountability of each task.  Each of the tasks was then project managed.

 

The plan was on target and there were no major issues.

 

Dennis Alderson reported that the Housing Futures Group had met the previous day to receive the final nominations from those interested in becoming tenant members of the ALMO Board.  9 nominations had been accepted and agreed that they would all be interviewed on 13th October for 5 positions.  Once the decision on the 5 had been made, all stakeholders would be balloted.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Environmental Services stated that the Council’s representatives would come from Area Panels and 1 each from the sub-boards to the main Board plus the Cabinet Member for Community Planning and Social Inclusion and herself.   The nominations for the remaining 5 independent places would go out to advertisement with the tenant representatives and Council representatives coming together to make the decision.

 

Resolved:-  That the report be noted.

50.

Local Lettings Policies pdf icon PDF 23 KB

- report of Head of Housing Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Housing Services presented a report outlining the proposals for the revised Local Lettings Policies previously agreed in September, 2003, following consultation with tenants, local Ward Members and partner agencies (Minute No. 94 refers).

 

It was noted that the polices had been amended at the Cabinet Member for Housing and Environmental Services meeting held on 6th September as follows:-

 

“2.2     Removal of the word “quota”

 

3.2      “….under the age of 60 years (but will exclude those currently subject to the sheltered housing review)…….”

 

That strategic consideration be given to the schemes being suggested for de-designation as to the options for future uses including other supported housing.”

 

It was made clear in the criteria that Members and stakeholders be consulted on the policies, widely publicised and made available to applicants.  The policies were intended to be flexible to meet situations in any locality.

 

With regard to the reducing of age limits in aged persons ground floor flats and bungalows, Managers were under instruction that any policy changing must dovetail with the existing community and that they be consulted about the proposals.  De-designation only went as far as 30 years of age.  If there were groups younger than that age, the Service would look to partners such as Social Services and the Police to help make sure any tenancies let to younger groups were managed and co-ordinated.  It was recognised that lifestyle clashes were recognised and managed, but it was also acknowledged that one could not exclude specific groups from living in popular areas of the Borough.

 

The policies would be reviewed on an annual basis but they could be changed within that period if Members or residents felt it appropriate.

 

Resolved:-  That the reviewed Local Lettings Polices be supported.

51.

Estate Management Procedures pdf icon PDF 23 KB

- report of the Head of Housing Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Housing Services presented a report indicating that a review was to commence of estate management policy and procedures for housing management.  The review was to be completed by December, 2004.

 

The Panel would receive a report in due course.

 

Resolved:-  That the review be noted.

52.

Role of the Wardens and Caretakers - Scrutiny Review

- Scrutiny Panel to consider possible review

Minutes:

Resolved:-  That a Review Scrutiny Panel be set up, comprising of Councillors Atkin, Hall, Hodgkiss and Vines and Mr, D. Willoughby, to look at the role of the various Wardens and Caretakers.

53.

Minutes of meetings of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Environmental Services held on 6th September, 2004 pdf icon PDF 31 KB

Minutes:

The Panel noted the decisions made under delegated powers by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Environmental Services held on 6th September, 2004.

 

It was noted that a presentation was to be made to the Panel at its next meeting by the State Veterinary Service of DEFRA on the Framework for the Delivery of Services in Animal Health and Welfare (Minute No. 57 refers).

54.

Minutes of the Scrutiny Panel held on 26th August, 2004 pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 26th August, 2004, were noted.

 

It was noted that a report from the Corporate Management Team was to be submitted to the next meeting of this Panel.  This would be their response to the recommendations contained within the Fly Tipping Review.  The report would include comments on the recommendation regarding the Bulky Item Service (Minute No. 39 refers).

55.

Minutes of the Performance and Scrutiny Overview Committee held on 23rd July, 20th August and 3rd September, 2004 pdf icon PDF 17 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Performance and Scrutiny Overview Committee held on 23rd July and 20th August, 2004, were noted.