Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Site map Arabic Urdu Slovenian Farsi Chinese French

Agenda and minutes

The Former Environment Scrutiny Panel - Oct 2000 to May 2005
Thursday, 13th January, 2005 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

91.

Questions from members of the public and the press

Minutes:

There were no members of the press and public present.

92.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made at the meeting.

93.

Progress Report - Furnished Homes pdf icon PDF 30 KB

- report by Community Services Manager

Minutes:

In accordance with Minute No. 135 of April, 2004, the Community Services Manager submitted a progress report outlining the critical success factors, funding, customer satisfaction and operational aspects.

 

The Scheme had been introduced in May, 2004, with a target to establish a one-stop furnishing service and to introduce 100 units by 31st March, 2005.  During the 7 months of operation there had been 99 furnished homes introduced of which only 2 had been terminated.

 

A Furnished Service Standards leaflet had been developed which provided information about the types of packages available, service standards to be expected and also the expectations from both the customer and the furnishing service prospective.  Mechanisms had also been adopted to enable individual items of furniture to be returned which would prompt a reduction in the charge.

 

To ensure value for money, 5 furniture suppliers had been tested.  A formal agreement would be written, incorporating delivery timescales and costs.  The suppliers also worked with other authorities allowing innovation and good practice to be transferred and embedded into the Scheme.

 

Initially all new furnished homes had been decorated throughout although this had been changed in July, 2004, with decoration vouchers to the value of  £200-£300 issued.  This was due to the decoration contractor not being able to keep up with demand, decoration costs outweighing predicted spend and customers preferring to take ownership and decorate their home themselves.  The decoration costs were between £1,200 to £1,600 per property, more than estimated.  The new approach had enabled each of the furnished charges to be reduced by at least £9.00 i.e. ranging from £14.17 for a 1 bedroomed part furnished to £37.16 for a 3 bedroomed fully furnished property.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the adoption of the Furnished Home Scheme with provision of 100 additional units during 2005/06 be supported.

 

(2)  That the Scheme be monitored for value for money and customer satisfaction with a further report to be submitted after a further 12 months in operation.

94.

Decoration Allowance Policy and Procedure pdf icon PDF 29 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(The Chairman authorised consideration of this item)

 

The Executive Director Neighbourhoods submitted a report explaining that the  Audit Commission had identified the need to revise the Decoration  Allowance Policy and Procedure to ensure that allowances were allocated equitably and performance and satisfaction were systematically evaluated. The proposal was to introduce revised policies and procedures  to address these concerns and review  the outcome periodically.

 

The Decoration Allowance Policy was vital to the commitment to deliver a quality service, and complements the “Houseproud  Empty Property Guarantee.  The policy contributes to the creation of sustainable neighbourhoods by providing a home and service that customers feel they have a stake in.

 

The current policy and guidance for issuing decoration allowances was  limited and the main features of the revised procedures were that it:

 

·        Ensures an equitable service by defining a decoration standard for voids, and provides guidance in what circumstances an allowance can be paid.

 

·        Expand the allowance to non-habitable rooms such as hall and stairways.

 

·        Recognise that some rooms are more expensive to decorate than others, and set a sliding scale of allowance to match this.

 

·        Explains the obligations that arise from the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

 

·        Improves the accessibility of the scheme by expanding the choice of payment methods to include cheques and a credit on the rent account.

 

·        Includes a decoration allowance leaflet to improve the customer’s awareness of the service.

 

·        Introduces a decoration allowance contract with the customer which clarifies the responsibility of the customer and improves the audit of the service.

 

·        Allows for future improvement of the service by introducing service standards and customer satisfaction survey, identifys customers needs and aspirations.

 

It was noted that the revised Policy and Procedure would be monitored on a six monthly basis to audit the equitable distribution of allowances and satisfaction with the service. The outcome of the evaluation and satisfaction surveys would be presented to the Learning from Customers Group to inform improvement to the service.

 

The Scrutiny Panel welcomed the proposed revisions to the Decoration Allowance Policy and Procedure and timetable and requested a progress report on the outcome.

 

Resolved:-  That the introduction of the revised Decoration Allowance Policy and Procedure and timetable for evaluating the service be supported.

 

(2)  That a progress report be submitted to this Scrutiny Panel.  

 

95.

Anti-Social Behaviour Strategy Progress Report pdf icon PDF 24 KB

- report by Anti-Social Behaviour Manager

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 146 of May, 2004, the Anti-Social Behaviour Manager submitted a progress report against the 15 point action plan produced in relation to housing related anti-social behaviour.

 

The Scrutiny Panel went through the action plan page by page and the Anti-Social Behaviour Manager commented on the issues raised by Members.   

 

The following comments were made:-

 

(a)  a need for better communications between Neighbourhood Wardens and the Police.

 

A response to this was that a progress report would be submitted to this Scrutiny Panel updating Members on proposals from the Council and the South Yorkshire Police to look at establishing Joint Partnership Teams.   From 1st April, 2005, the police were moving towards local policing teams and that they were in the process of reorganising their service geographically to ensure that they have resources available to line up with the local authority and other partners agencies.

 

(b)  Telephone calls not getting through to the Police  and yet crime is still being committed.  

 

(c)  Concerns regarding the allocation of finance because Rotherham’s recorded low crime figures seems to attract lesser funding.  

 

(d)  Concerns regarding the possible loss of funding from the SRB Fund.

 

(e)  The Scrutiny Panel would like the crime figures for Sheffield, Barnsley and Doncaster to compare with Rotherham, preferably on a Ward by Ward basis.  

 

(f)  There was a need to examine a number of real case histories to see how effectively those cases had been dealt with and the results arising.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the report and proposals for sustainable actions to tackle anti-social behaviour in Rotherham be noted.

 

(2)  That future reports on housing related anti-social behaviour, tenancy and estate management be made within reports of the ALMO Excellence Place.

 

(3)  That arrangements be made for an ASBO Review to take place, as soon as possible, to examine real case histories.

96.

Black and Minority Ethnic Housing Strategy 2004/07 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

- report by Head of Neighbourhood Development and Equalities and Diversity Officer, Neighbourhood Development

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Neighbourhood Development submitted a report on the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Housing Strategy which had been developed in partnership with customers and stakeholders with the aim of ensuring that people from BME communities had access to suitable and appropriate housing.

 

The aim of the Strategy was to explain and set out what the Authority and its partner organisations were seeking to achieve in terms of race equality in housing.  It would:-

 

§                     Provide a framework for tackling racial discrimination and disadvantage

§                     Provide clarity to the Authority, its partners and service users on what it was seeking to achieve in the field of race equality

§                     Demonstrate to BME communities the Authority’s commitment to race equality

§                     Set out a number of measurable objectives and performance targets that could be monitored in order to determine how far progress had been made

§                     Set up a BME Housing Strategy and Monitoring Group, involving stakeholders and BME tenants, to scrutinise the Housing Strategy and provide a forum for consultation.

 

The Strategy also included an action plan which set out targets against performance for the Authority and some key partners.

 

Scrutiny Panel Members asked a range of questions and answers were provided.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Environmental Services  asked Members of the Scrutiny Panel to submit any comments/observations on the Strategy to the  Scrutiny Adviser who would collate these for further consideration.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the BME Housing Strategy be noted.

 

(2)  That copies of the Strategy be circulated to all Members of the Council, members of the Strategic Housing Partnership, all Programme Areas, all Managers within Neighbourhoods and other stakeholders and interested parties.

97.

ALMO Indicative Inspection pdf icon PDF 24 KB

- report by Service Improvement Manager, Neighbourhoods

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Neighbourhoods submitted a report containing the recommendations for service improvement from the Indicative ALMO Inspection.

 

The recommendations had had been included in the ALMO Excellence Plan to drive forward and monitor the service improvement of Housing Management and Repairs Services into an ALMO structure with the objective to delivering an excellent customer service through Neighbourhood Management.  The objectives had been divided into 5 key points:-

 

§                     An ALMO be established and in place by 31st March, 2005

§                     Tenants were at the heart of the decision process and played a principal role in shaping future service delivery

§                     Delivering a continuously improving, high performing, customer focused service

§                     The ALMO had a long term strategy for the delivery of neighbourhood management beyond the delivery of decent homes

§                     Ensure the services demonstrate value for money to customers through the application of competition and procurement.

 

Resolved:-  That the recommendations from the Indicative ALMO Inspection and the ALMO Excellence Plan be noted and that this Scrutiny Panel welcomes further updates.

98.

Minutes of meetings of the Cabinet Member of Housing and Environmental Services held on 6th, 13th and 20th December, 2004 pdf icon PDF 12 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel noted the decisions made under delegated powers by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Environmental Services held on 6th, 13th and 20th December, 2004.

 

The Chairman referred particularly to Minute No. 121 (Waste Strategy Consultation) and reported that all Members of the Council had been invited to a presentation on the Waste Management  Strategy arranged by the Scrutiny Panel on 27th January, 2005.

99.

Minutes of Scrutiny Panel held on 16th December, 2004 pdf icon PDF 17 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 16th December, 2004, were noted.

100.

Minutes of Asylum Seekers Working Party held on 1st December, 2004 pdf icon PDF 18 KB

Minutes:

The Panel noted the minutes of the Asylum Seekers Working Party held on 1st December, 2004, attended by Councillors Sharman (in the Chair), Boyes and Ellis.

101.

Minutes of Sustainable Development Action Group held on 10th December, 2004 pdf icon PDF 16 KB

(attached)

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Members’ Sustainable Development Group, attended by Councillors Wyatt (in the Chair), Atkin, Hall and Sharman, held on 10th December, 2004, were noted.

102.

Minutes of Performance and Scrutiny Overview Committee held on 26th November and 17th December, 2004 pdf icon PDF 14 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Performance and Scrutiny Overview Committee held on 26th November and 17th December, 2004, were noted.

103.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

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 involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in those paragraphs indicated below 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 involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in those paragraphs, indicated below, of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972:-

104.

Cemeteries and Crematorium Service Improvement Plan

- report by Manager and Registrar, Crematorium

(Exempt under Paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Act - proposed purchasing costs for the provision of work/negotiation of terms)

 

 

Minutes:

The Manager and Registrar of the Cemeteries and Crematorium Service submitted a medium term plan, together with a draft Project Timetable, which aimed to position Rotherham as a provider of high quality effective bereavement services.

 

It was noted that this was a feasibility study and further updates would be submitted to Members.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the content of the Service Improvement Plan for Cemetery and Crematorium Services be noted.

 

(2)  That the Service Improvement Plan be used as a key document for consultation during Soft Market Testing, seeking potential partners to assist in the delivery of Bereavement Services in Rotherham.

 

(3)  That the Project Timetable for exploring partnership arrangements in the delivery of Bereavement Services in Rotherham be noted.

 

(4)  That a further report be submitted to the Scrutiny Panel  upon completion of the soft market testing exercise.

 

(Exempt under Paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Act – expenditure proposed to be incurred by the Local Authority and contractual issues)

 

105.

Housing Rents and Budgets 2005/2006

- report of Head of Finance and Accountancy

(Exempt under Paragraphs 3 and 8 of the Act – accommodation provided by the Local Authority/expenditure proposed to be incurred by the Local Authority)

Minutes:

The Finance and Accountancy Manager, gave a power point presentation and  submitted a report setting out the proposed housing rents and budgets for 2005/2006 based on the Government’s Housing Subsidy Settlement for the Council’s Housing Revenue Account.

 

It was proposed that average housing rents be increased by 6.4% which equated to £46.48 per week for 48 weeks.  This was the 3rd year that the Council had applied the rent convergence rules that would allow it to move to using formula rents for properties by 2012.  The changes were being achieved incrementally with caps or limits on the increase in rent for a property in any 1 year to protect tenants.  Applying the formula meant that the average rent for a Council property next year would be consistent with the “Limit Rent”. 

 

It was proposed that a decision on increases in all fees and charges for additional services e.g. Wardens and Rothercare be deferred pending a meeting of the Supporting People Board in light of the uncertainty surrounding the Supporting People Grant.

 

It was noted that, following consideration of the report by this Scrutiny Panel, the report would be submitted to the Cabinet meeting to be held on 26th January, 2005.

 

The Environment Scrutiny Panel noted and supported the decisions made by the Cabinet Member, Housing and Environmental Services Delegated Powers meeting held on 10th January, 2005 as follows:-

 

(1)  That the Council rents be set at the levels determined by the application of the formula rents i.e. an average of £46.48 per week for 48 weeks, an average increase of 6.4%.

 

(2)  That any decisions on increases in all fees and charges for additional services be deferred until after the January meeting of the Supporting People Board.

 

(3)  That a prudent approach be adopted to the 2005/06 budget which assumed no cash increase in resources.

 

(4)  That savings from within the additional items, funded by the subsidy windfall in the 2004/05 budget, be identified.

 

(Exempt under Paragraphs 3 and 8 of the Act – accommodation provided by the Local Authority/expenditure proposed to be incurred by the Local Authority)