Venue: Council Chamber - Rotherham Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 2TH. View directions
Contact: Barbel Gale The webcast can be viewed online: http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv
To receive communications from the Chair in respect of matters within the Commission’s remit and work programme.
There were none.
To consider and approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 December, 2023 as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
Resolved: That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 December 2023 be approved as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest to report.
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.
The Chair advised that three questions had been submitted to the meeting. These would be responded to in writing.
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.
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.
To consider the update on the response to the recommendations from the Improving Places Select Commission spotlight review of Rotherham Markets carried out during 2022.
The Chair welcomed Councillor Sheppard, Simon Moss, Assistant Director, Planning, Regeneration and Transport, and Tim O’Connell, Service Manager to the meeting and invited Simon Moss to provide the update.
The Assistant Director, Planning, Regeneration and Transport noted that the Improving Places Select Commission had held a spotlight review of Rotherham Markets which was carried out in 2022 with further reports being submitted to Cabinet in December 2022 and February 2023. The spotlight review was a really positive process and the service had taken on board the recommendations which had heavily influenced the approach the project had taken.
The report provided an update and detailed how the service had responded to each of the recommendations. He highlighted that they had prioritised face to face engagement with tenants and market traders. They had reinstated the voice meetings and had prioritised retaining market traders, prioritising their needs for the duration of the construction phase. The recommendations had influenced the design plans in terms of accessibility, usability and attractiveness, particularly to young people. He noted that some of the actions were still ongoing, in terms of working with the college to actively involve students in the new markets to continue to develop and modernise the markets offer.
Recommendation 1A was around face-to-face consultations and prioritising interactions with traders. In response to this the face-to-face one-on-one contact with market traders had taken place at least every two to three months. The voice meetings had been relaunched, which were in-person meetings and the market traders attended those. Those meetings had been really good to maintain that ongoing dialogue as the projects were being developed. There was a tailored markets consultation and engagement plan in place which was managed by the RiDO team.
A number of consultation workshop sessions were held in February 2023 to update traders on plans along with a series of individual meetings with market traders to provide an opportunity to discuss their requirements, particularly around the relocation aspect, during the temporary arrangements. A further round of trader engagements was planned, and these would be ongoing as the build process progressed.
Recommendation 1B was around consulting case studies and liaising with the market traders’ associations such as National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) and National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), which was really useful. The Council did consult with those organisations which informed the proposals in a number of ways. The most striking of which was that NABMA raised previous case studies where there were issues arising from similar market projects where issues arose from keeping market traders in situ whilst works were carried out. During the consultation with traders, they had been really keen to stay on site however that consultation heavily informed the approach to phasing where a new temporary market had been created in the outdoor covered market, so striking a balance of retaining traders in situ whilst trying to minimise the disruption. He noted that a number of visits to other markets, Barnsley was a relevant one which gave close ... view the full minutes text for item 53.
To consider a report which summarises the changes and provides an update on Housing Services’ preparedness activities.
The Chair welcomed James Clark, Assistant Director of Housing to the meeting to present a report which summarised the changes to social housing and provided an update of the Housing Services preparedness activities.
The Assistant Director of Housing noted that the report summarised a number of changes that were happening to the way that social housing, including Rotherham’s 20,000 council properties, were regulated. The changes largely stem from the Grenfell Tower fire and subsequent public inquiry but all other high-profile event including the death of Awaab Ishak a few years ago from damp and mould. Those changes amounted to a significant reform to the way that social housing was regulated in England.
He clarified the scope explaining it applied to the landlord services within the Council, so didn’t apply to what’s know as the Council’s strategic housing function, so homelessness for example and private rented sector enforcement and licensing, and some of the Council’s new build activity was not covered by the new regulatory framework. It was about how the Council managed the properties that it owned, so relating to the Council as a landlord.
To provide further context housing was already regulated but this was largely a passive regulator at this stage so rarely were landlords investigated and even more rarely was there a regulatory judgement issued due to the thresholds that had to be met in order to trigger it. All of that was being replaced with a proactive inspection regime which would feel similar to the way that schools or social services were regulated in other parts of the Council.
There would be a new set of twenty-two tenant satisfaction measures (TSMs). Roughly half of the measures would be performance statistics that the Council would generate as a landlord with the remainder being information gathered through surveying tenants. There was a defined list of questions that the regulator had published, and the Council had to collect that information by surveying its tenants and share the information with the regulator and published by June. That work was currently underway in the borough.
The Council had communicated with Members on the changes and communicated with tenants via Home Matters. Many tenants had received a call from the market research company being used and that would generate results that would enable the Council, tenants, and the regulator to compare its performance in the views of the tenants against other landlords across the country in a fair and transparent way.
A new consumer regulatory framework was another change. He explained that the regulator of social housing closed its consultation in October 2023 on the proposed new standards and it was expected that they would be finalised imminently and would be in force from 1 April 2024. The standards were broadly similar to the standards already in existence but there was more emphasis on tenant engagement and empowerment regarding the ability of tenants to hold their landlords to account. As mentioned, there were stronger levers for the regulators to intervene if they ... view the full minutes text for item 54.
To consider and endorse the outline schedule of scrutiny work for the 2023/24 municipal year.
Consideration was given to the Work Programme circulated with the agenda. The Chair noted officers from the green spaces team had contacted the Commission to advise that no further changes to the Allotments annual update item schedule for the March meeting therefore they were seeking approval to defer this item to a future meeting.
Resolved: That the Improving Places Select Commission:
1. Received and noted the contents of the Work Programme.
2. Agreed to defer the Allotments Annual Update item to a future meeting.
To consider any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
The Chair advised that there were no urgent items of business requiring the Commission’s consideration.
Date and time of the next meeting
The next meeting of the Improving Places Select Commission will take place on Tuesday 19 March 2024 commencing at 1.30pm in Rotherham Town Hall.
Resolved: That the next meeting of the Improving Places Select Commission will take place on Tuesday 19 March 2024 commencing at 1:30pm.