Agenda, decisions and minutes

z (EXPIRED 07/05/15) Housing OSC - Now Community & Enterprise OSC
Wednesday, 21st May, 2014 10.00 am

Venue: Clwyd Committee Room, County Hall, Mold CH7 6NA

Contact: Tracy Waters 01352 702331  Email: tracy.waters@flintshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)

Minutes:

Councillor Hilary Isherwood declared a personal interest in all items due to her husband being the Housing Shadow Minister.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 55 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 16 April 2014 (copy enclosed).

Decision:

That the minutes be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 16 April, 2014 had been circulated to Members with the agenda.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

3.

Domestic Abuse pdf icon PDF 37 KB

Decision:

            (a)       That the report be noted; and

 

(b)       That the Committee support the ongoing work of the Neighbourhood Housing Team in tackling domestic abuse.

 

Minutes:

The Neighbourhood Housing Manager introduced a report to provide an overview and update of the work taking place within Neighbourhood Housing in relation to customers who were affected by domestic abuse. 

 

                        The Committee were shown a dvd entitled ‘Leaving’ which had been requested by Councillor Peter Curtis.  In response to a comment from Councillor George Hardcastle about the content of the dvd, the Neighbourhood Housing Manager said that it was hardhitting and disturbing but was a harsh reality of the issues that some Council tenants faced. 

 

                        The Neighbourhood Housing Manager explained that it was difficult to measure the number of cases of domestic abuse as not all incidents were reported.  Figures provided by Police indicated that there were 2348 recorded incidents of domestic abuse in Flintshire in 2012/13 and on average, people had 30 experiences of domestic abuse before they sought help. 

 

                        Councillor Hilary Isherwood felt that the dvd had been difficult to watch.  She spoke of issues around domestic abuse, both physically and mentally, and how it could be-little people that were experiencing it and highlighted the fact that a significant number of people over the age of 70 were also domestically abused.  She felt that discussions around domestic abuse should be included in the school curriculum and said that it was important to highlight the issue before it became a problem.  Councillor Isherwood said that the dvd highlighted that making the call to seek help was difficult.  The Neighbourhood Housing Manager commented on the work of the Housing Officers and the relationships that the officers built up with the tenants and said that it was important that the officers were trained to deal with such disclosures of domestic abuse.

 

                        Councillor Sharon Williams thanked the officer for the dvd and welcomed the training for Housing officers to allow them to look out for any signs of domestic abuse.  She spoke of signposting to agencies that could provide assistance and support for victims and welcomed that awareness of the issue was being raised within the Housing Service.         

           

The Neighbourhood Housing Manager commented on the multi-agency arrangements around domestic abuse and spoke of the work undertaken at the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC).  The number of referrals to MARAC by housing staff had historically been low but it was felt that this could be because an appropriate referral had already been made to MARAC by other agencies or the Police.  This had prompted the team in Neighbourhood Housing to ask whether there were opportunities to identify domestic abuse being missed.  The Housing Service was working with the Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator within Community Safety and other social landlords in the area to enhance the approach to identifying and dealing with incidents of domestic abuse. 

 

It was reported that Housing Officers and front line staff who may go into customer’s homes would be trained, which would also include the Council’s Income Officers who were to be trained in recognising domestic abuse and being confident to ask the right questions.  Trades staff such  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Responsible Pet Ownership Policy pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

(a)       That the proposed Responsible Pet Ownership Policy be supported; and

 

(b)       That the Committee support the proposal to apply the Responsible Pet Ownership Policy going forward, and not retrospectively.

 

Minutes:

The Neighbourhood Housing Manager introduced a report on the Housing Service’s proposed Responsible Pet Ownership Policy.  

 

                        She detailed the background to the report and explained that the need for developing such a policy had arisen for a wide variety of reasons.  The Neighbourhood Housing Team received a broad range of calls from complaints about animal related nuisance to concerns for the welfare of animals kept in council properties.  The aim of the policy was to allow the Neighbourhood Housing Teams to provide clear guidance and a consistent approach across the county.  It would deal with a broad range of issues faced by the Housing Team and had been developed through feedback from residents who had reported animal related problems, through a Member workshop held in March 2014 and in consultation with the Tenants Federation.  The Neighbourhood Housing Manager advised that if the policy was supported at this meeting, it would be submitted to Cabinet in June and if agreed, an implementation date in the future would be agreed rather than applying the policy retrospectively.  She provided a detailed explanation of the issues which had been considered which included implementation issues, the legal framework, the application process, decision making and enforcement.  The Neighbourhood Housing Manager also spoke of an accreditation scheme which the Council would look to apply for if the policy was applied. 

 

                        Mrs. Mavis Crofts from the Tenants Federation said that the Federation had welcomed the opportunity to be consulted on the policy but said that in her opinion, it would be a difficult policy to enforce.  She added that it was important that tenants were aware of their responsibilities and she praised the Housing Team for their consistent hard work. 

 

                        Councillor Rosetta Dolphin echoed the comments that the policy would be difficult to enforce and asked for clarification on when it would be implemented from.  She did not agree that residents in flats should be allowed to keep pets unless the property was on the ground floor.  In response to a question from Councillor George Hardcastle about the number of staff working within the team, the Neighbourhood Housing Manager said that the team consisted of 11.5 Housing Officers and 3 specialist Anti-social Behaviour Officers.  Following a further question from Councillor Hardcastle, she said that whether pets were permitted would depend on individual circumstances but the policy would provide guidance to the Housing Officers for a consistent approach to all requests.  She was not aware of any legal action being taken since November 2012 about pets being in properties but she said that tools and powers were in place if required. 

 

                        Councillor Ray Hughes raised concern about a property in his ward where dogs were kept but which fouled in a play area across the road from the dwelling.  He had repeatedly reported it and he added that he felt that the Council should have powers to refuse permission for pets if problems had occurred with tenants in the past.  The Neighbourhood Housing Manager advised Councillor Hughes to speak  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Update on the Housing Asset Management Service pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Decision:

            (a)       That the report be noted;

 

(b)       That now the service was delivering sustained improved performance that an annual update report to Committee be provided in future.

 

Minutes:

The Housing Asset Manager introduced a report to update Members on the progress of the Housing Asset Management Service improvement workstreams.  He introduced Denise Price, the Business Performance Manager, to the Committee.   

 

                        He detailed the background to the report and provided details of some of the main highlights of 2013-14 which included improved performance across all categories of repairs and full delivery of the Capital Programme, again outperforming the promises made in the Choices Document.  It was reported that the team had worked closely with the Housing Training Manager to provide both necessary and added value training to all members of the service and a full list of the training provided was detailed.  One of the courses which had been identified as being of benefit to the service was scaffolding, as being able to carry out this task in-house would reduce the amount of spend with external contractors.  A corporate fleet review had been undertaken and the proposed new ownership model would generate efficiencies through both cost of vehicles and improved productivity as a result of revised arrangements for vehicle servicing and safety checks. 

 

                        On the issue of mobile working, the Housing Asset Manager said that there had been some initial difficulties but the issues were being addressed and a robust solution to provide an effective, fit for purpose Mobile Working solution for the future was being identified.  A site visit had been undertaken by Housing and IT officers to an authority where the proposed solution had been implemented in order to view the new solution in a working environment and to discuss the risks and benefits of the system.  The Housing Asset Manager provided details of the new solution and explained that the project to implement the new solution would be undertaken in three stages which he detailed.  The team had achieved significant improvements in performance across all categories of repairs over the last 12 months and continued to work towards further improvement with the aim of achieving top quartile status for the service.  It was predicted that over 49,000 additional repairs would have been carried out in 2013-14 which was over 3000 more than the last financial year and a further 2000 more than the 2011-12 financial year.  The Housing Asset Manager spoke of the performance around vacant properties and added that there had been a number of improvements to management arrangements and business processes during the year which had driven the improvements.  Further developments were planned for the forthcoming year to continue progress which included revised voids standards, in-house Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) kitchen team and improved performance reports.  He advised that 99.69% of gas servicing checks had been undertaken in 2013-14 but added that the target remained as 100% and the team was committed to working with Housing Management to achieve that in 2014-15. 

 

                        The Housing Asset Manager provided details of the works which it had been intended to provide under the Capital Works Programme for 2013/14 and also details of the works which had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 24 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

            (a)       That the Forward Work Programme be agreed; and

 

(b)       That a Forward Work Programme planning workshop be arranged to allow the meeting dates for 2014/15 to be populated. 

 

Minutes:

The Housing and Learning Overview and Scrutiny Facilitator introduced the report to consider the Forward Work Programme for the Committee. 

 

            The Facilitator explained that an All Member workshop on Tackling Long Term Vacant Private Homes had been arranged for 2 June 2014.  She detailed the items for consideration at the 10 June 2014 meeting of the Committee and explained that there were several items listed which were to be scheduled.  As the diary for 2014/15 had been agreed at the Annual Meeting held earlier in the week, the Facilitator suggested that a Forward Work Programme planning workshop be held so that the agreed meeting dates for the Committee could be populated. 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            (a)       That the Forward Work Programme be agreed; and

 

(b)       That a Forward Work Programme planning workshop be arranged to allow the meeting dates for 2014/15 to be populated. 

 

7.

Members of the Public and Press In Attendance

Minutes:

                        There was one member of the public and one member of the press in attendance.

 

 

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