Agenda and draft minutes

Improving Places Select Commission - Tuesday 9 May 2023 1.30 p.m.

Venue: Council Chamber - Rotherham Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 2TH. View directions

Contact: Katherine Harclerode, Governance Advisor  The webcast can be viewed online: http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv

Items
No. Item

66.

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 March 2023 pdf icon PDF 191 KB

 

To consider and approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 March 2023 as a true and correct record of the proceedings.

Minutes:

Resolved:-

 

1)    That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 March 2023, be approved as a true and correct record of the proceedings.

67.

Declarations of Interest

 

To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor Tinsley declared a pecuniary interest in respect of agenda item 6 as a license holder.

68.

Questions from members of the public and the press

 

To receive questions relating to items of business on the agenda from members of the public or press who are present at the meeting.

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that no questions had been submitted.

69.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

 

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.

Minutes:

The Chair advised that there were no items of business on the agenda that would require the exclusion of the press or public from the meeting.

70.

Tree Programme Update pdf icon PDF 335 KB

To consider an update report in respect of the delivery of the Tree Management Protocol, the maintenance programme and tree planting programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to an update report in respect of the delivery of the Tree Management Protocol, the maintenance programme and tree planting programme. The report outlined progress against recommendations from the previous update which was submitted to scrutiny in the spring of 2022. A software update would allow the Service to reflect the planting within current ward boundaries, enabling further publicity and engagement around the planting. The process for prioritisation had been benchmarked successfully with a positive outcome confirming the process was fit for purpose. The significant numbers of trees that had been planted in Dinnington were highlighted, and fruit trees had been planted in several areas. A breakdown of fruit tree planting was provided. The timetable for next steps for the Service were also provided.

 

In discussion, members thanked officers for the environment days in Brinsworth and requested clarification of the points in the report describing environment days, including planting of bulbs and coronation fruit trees. The Service confirmed the participation of Brinsworth in the environment days.

 

Members sought additional information around the process governing the estimated ten percent of planting that did not survive, and whether funding  for the planting was predicated on survival of the trees. The response from the Assistant Director of Culture Sport and Tourism noted that the Tree Planting Officer oversaw the implementation of a similar process across a number of wards around the portion of planting that does not survive. This process promoted community involvement in the process as much as possible. The response from the Green Spaces Manager noted that tree failures were part of the planting process, which includes a requirement to replace trees that fail due to natural reasons. Some trees are damaged due to vandalism, which the Service does replace. The Service seek extra funding where there has been vandalism of the trees. Tree failures due to drought within the previous year had resulted in further funding received. It was usually the next planting year when the failure would become evident. The disparity between urban and woodland tree failure was noted. Within woodlands or local parks the outcomes are much better.

 

Members pointed out that the most deprived ten percent of neighbourhoods in the Borough have had about sixteen trees planted in two years. Members affirmed the need for multiple kinds of community engagement and using data from the first year to inform planting in the subsequent years, and engagement around opportunities for planting. Longer lead-in time was desired so that Members could help maximise the engagement and planning around the planting opportunities. Of special interest are how trees are considered within housing and planning activities, where there are likely to be new developments taking place. The response from the Assistant Director affirmed openness to receiving feedback and seeking new ways of working. The Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion noted that working with the schools had been an area of good practice and ongoing dialogue regarding opportunities to get involved.

 

 

The Service was in the process of recruiting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 70.

71.

Scrutiny Review Recommendations - Impact of Selective Licensing pdf icon PDF 521 KB

 

To consider and endorse the findings and recommendations of a scrutiny review into the impact of the current selective licencing scheme in Rotherham at its halfway point.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report summarising the findings and recommendations of a scrutiny review into the impact of the selective licencing scheme in Rotherham at its halfway point. The selective licencing scheme, which ran from 2020-2025, focussed on alleviating deprivation and poor housing conditions in specific residential areas of Parkgate, Thurcroft, Maltby, Dinnington, Eastwood/Town Centre and Masbrough. The review sought to assess the impact of the scheme so far and identify further steps and risk mitigations that will help to build positively upon the accomplishments of the scheme to date. Among the principal findings were that the widely held assumption must be dispelled that selective licensing supported beautification; rather, the inspections promote health and safety of residents. The shortage of key professionals was also a limiting factor on the reach of the scheme. Having previously declared an interest, Cllr Tinsley excused himself from participation in the discussion and vote.

 

In discussion, Members expressed concerns around the adequacy of the engagement with landlords and tenants, due to the low number of responses. The response from the Head of Community Safety provided assurances that the surveys were sent to a large number of recipients and publicised through multiple platforms and channels. Thirteen responses from landlords and seven from tenants had been received. The feedback received would be considered and taken on board but was not statistically significant. There were significant amounts of time spent by officers utilising social media platforms and local forums. Efforts were done to try to receive a wider and more populous response. Members suggested working with Acorn a Tenants’ Union who can act as a representative body, and with Rotherham Federation of Communities.

 

Members suggested that clarity around the yearly expectations and costs could be made clearer in communication to license holders.

 

Members questioned the apparent necessity of the Service to be fully self-funding, as this limits the reach of the scheme. The response of the Service was expected to include benchmarking around whether schemes elsewhere are also fully self-funding.

 

The Chair noted that any response would likely require a more labour-intensive approach. It was felt that there was a need for Selective Licencing in part of Maltby due to high turnover of tenancies. The Chair affirmed that the response will impact the future of the scheme. It was acknowledged that responsibility does not sit solely with landlords, as many are doing their job well. The response from officers confirmed that there was a discount for landlords who pass inspection. The Service was using the market to shape the discount and the offer to landlords. The Service looked for more ways to reward responsible landlords.

 

Members noted that, within Select Licencing areas, language barriers prevented some stakeholders from accessing the Facebook groups. It was acknowledged that some individuals could be harder to reach with digital methods of engagement.

 

Members affirmed the importance of reinspection, and that as long as a landlord continues to be out of compliance there should be action until the problems are resolved. This  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.

72.

Urgent Business

 

To consider any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

The Chair advised that there were no urgent items of business requiring a decision at the meeting.

73.

Date and time of the next meeting

 

The next meeting of the Improving Places Select Commission will take place on 6 June 2023 commencing at 1.30 pm in Rotherham Town Hall.

Minutes:

Resolved:-

 

1)    That the next meeting of the Improving Places Select Commission will take place on 6 June 2023, commencing at 1.30 pm.