Agenda and minutes

Communities Select Committee
Monday, 24th September, 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping. View directions

Contact: J Leither  Tel: (01992) 564243 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

27.

Substitute Members

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no substitutions made for the meeting.

28.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

Minutes:

In the absence of the Vice-Chairman, the Chairman, Councillor H Whitbread, sought nominations for the role of Vice-Chairman.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Councillor A Patel be elected Vice-Chairman for the duration of the meeting.

29.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any items on the agenda.

 

In considering whether to declare a pecuniary or a non-pecuniary interest under the Code of Conduct, Overview and Scrutiny members are asked pay particular attention to paragraph 9 of the Code in addition to the more familiar requirements.

 

This requires the declaration of a non-pecuniary interest in any matter before an Overview and Scrutiny Committee which relates to a decision of or action by another Committee or Sub-Committee of the Council, a Joint Committee or Joint Sub-Committee in which the Council is involved and of which the Councillor is also a member.

 

Paragraph 9 does not refer to Cabinet decisions or attendance at an Overview and Scrutiny meeting purely for the purpose of answering questions or providing information on such a matter.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made pursuant to the Member’s Code of Conduct.

30.

Consultation Documents - Social Housing Green Paper & Use of Receipts from Right to Buy Sales pdf icon PDF 143 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Director, A Hall, explained to the Select Committee that the Government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) had published two important consultation papers recently which warranted a response from the Council. The Council was a member of the Association of Retained Housing (ARCH), which had produced summaries of the two consultation programmes, and these had been published with the agenda report. The Council’s draft responses to these consultations had been issued as supplementary agendas. Furthermore, the Tenants and Leaseholders Panel had met on 12 September 2018 and had asked the Council to incorporate their comments separately into the Council’s formal responses, which was agreed.

 

(a)          Social Housing Green Paper

 

This green paper was proposing a rebalance of the relationship between residents and landlords in a new deal for social housing. The key proposals included:

 

·           introducing performance indicators and to produce league tables for councils and housing associations, which could be linked to how grants for new housebuilding were distributed;

·           a quicker process for tenants’ complaints;

·           strengthening the Regulator of Social Housing to focus on tenant issues;

·           cessation of the Government’s proposed policy to introduce mandatory fixed-term tenancies for councils and housing associations (this Council had used 10-year fixed term tenancies for a number of years);

·           support of new home ownership options and shared value ownerships; and

·           cessation of the Government’s proposed policy for councils to sell “higher value void properties” as they became vacant.

 

The following suggestions were made by the Select Committee to the Council’s draft response.

 

Chapter 1 – Ensuring homes were safe and decent

 

(Question 3 response) It was confirmed that the Decent Home Standard, though basic could still have one or more components that failed.

 

It was agreed that the second sentence, “Therefore, if the Standard is reviewed, any review could consider a property requiring a lesser number of failing components to meet the Standard.” be deleted from this draft response.

 

It was noted that question 4 was covered by the answer to question 2.

 

It was noted that the Panel had concluded that the Fire Risk Assessments should be made aware to the public and available on the Council’s website.

 

Chapter 2 – Effective resolution of complaints

 

(Question 5 response) The Chairman proposed the deletion of the entire second paragraph concerning mediation opportunities for landlords and tenants or the establishment of a national mediation service. The Service Director (Housing and Property Services), P Pledger, explained that when a tenant made a complaint to the housing ombudsman, the ombudsman would always ask if the Council would consider mediating with a tenant.

 

However, the Select Committee agreed to the removal of the second paragraph from this draft response.

 

(Question 6 response) The Committee agreed with the draft reply that strongly recommended the removal of “democratic filtering”, but supported a single Housing Ombudsman Service which had been proposed by the Government in a recent consultation on “Strengthening consumer redress in the housing market”.

 

The Panel supported a reduced timescale for complaints being referred to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

Reports to be made to the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

To consider which reports are ready to be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its next meeting.

 

Minutes:

The Council’s responses to the MHCLG’s consultations detailed below:

 

(1)          “A new deal on social housing” Green Paper; and

 

(2)          Use of receipts from Right to Buy sales.

32.

Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting of the Select Committee will be held on 13 November 2018.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Select Committee would be held on 13 November 2018 at 7.00pm.