Agenda and minutes

Stronger Communities Select Committee
Tuesday, 21st September, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: R Perrin  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

12.

Webcasting Introduction

The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing  (or another use by such third parties).

 

Therefore, by entering the Council Chamber and using the seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings for webcasting and/or training purposes.”

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman reminded everyone present that this meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.

13.

Substitute Members

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that there were no substitute members.

14.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.

15.

Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 15 June 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

That the notes of the meeting held 15 June 2021 were agreed as a correct record subject to item 3. Declarations of Interest (b)  replacement of Epping Reuse Centre with Epping Forest Reuse.

16.

Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 197 KB

(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee have agreed the Terms of Reference and work programme for this Select Committee. Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Terms of Reference and the Committee’ work programme for 2021/22.

17.

Community Safety Team EFDC Funded Police Officers 6 monthly update. pdf icon PDF 153 KB

(C Wiggins/STG Neil Ross) To consider the attached report on the work and range of operations of the Council-Funded Police Officers over the last six months.

 

 

Please note that SGT Neil Ross will only be able to respond to questions concerning the performance of EFDC Funded Officers at the meeting, rather than respond to general policing questions.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Directorate Specialist and Community Safety Team Sgt N Ross gave a six-month report on the work and range of operations of the Council’s funded Police team, including a operation synopsis of work carried out in the District.

 

There had been 20 tasking requests in 2021, to date and the most significant work had been partnership working to respond to a county lines drugs supply in Waltham Abbey. (Details attached in the presentation).

 

Other highlights included;

 

·         Supporting council officers with joint visits at licenced and business premises highlighted to be committing COVID legislation breaches;

·         Supporting Environmental Health with the initial site visit at a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) where there had been a potential threat, harm and risk to staff. The visit had been conducted without incident and the EHO was able to secure sufficient evidence;

·         A site visit with Planning Enforcement and Community Resilience at a venue where the occupant presents risk to staff;

·         Site visits and representation at professionals meeting in relation to a high-risk homeless person. The Team also conduct the arrest of the same subject for breach of Criminal Behaviour Order;

·         The planning and preparation for community policing resources for the local election process. In addition to providing police cover throughout the two additional count days;

·         Targeted patrols and activity around three specific locations which were subject to anti-social behaviour and required a medium to long-term problem solving approach, which were still ongoing. This had resulted in arrests, seizures of nuisance vehicles, stop/searches, service of Community Protection Warnings and enforcement of any EFDC-lead orders;

·         A report of a fraud in progress (elderly victim, bank cards reported stolen and police send a taxi to collect). The team identified the subjects vehicle and tracked it via ANPR to the M11. Appropriate tactics were put in place to prevent a pursuit and the funded officers arrested the offender. The investigation was still ongoing but this was a significant and rare arrest to catch an offender at a live fraud;

·         Two arrests following a pursuit with cloned vehicle which was found decamped in Buckhurst Hill. The two men who were linked to organised crime were stopped nearby and the police dog located car key and illegal cloning equipment nearby;

·         Following an attempted burglary in Loughton the subject made off in a van which then made off from officers. The funded team officers located the offender hiding in bushes and arrested him. He was charged and remanded for burglary offences; and

·         Following a series of distraction thefts in the district whereby victims had their Rolex watches stolen, the team reviewed CCTV and identified the offender’s vehicle. By chance two suspects were sighted, that matched the description parked on Epping High Street paying close attention to pedestrians. The team made the arrest of both suspects, who remain under investigation at time of writing.

The Committee asked the following question;

·         What was a closure order and can they be applied to both Council and private properties? Stg Ross advised that they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Museum Collections Project - Rationalisation pdf icon PDF 308 KB

(F Pellegrino) To consider the attached report regarding the Museum Collections Project rationalisation and progress.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Team Manager for Heritage and Venues presented a report on the Museum Collections Projects and the rationalisation.

 

The report set out the problems the museum was facing due to the breath of the collection, documentation, storage, suitability and relevance to the museum and it’s audience. The full capacity meant that there was no expansion space to address any gaps in the collection highlighted in the Collections Development Policy. The Council also needed to ensure that the collection had been thoroughly audited in order to comply with Health & Safety regulations.

 

There were 5 guiding principles that had been agreed and adopted for the rationalisation project and along side the project process and Museum Association Guidelines.

 

The Committee noted the following success to date;

·         that the Museum was currently being recognised across the industry as undertaking a fully ethical and high standard project;

  • Articles on the project had been featured in industry magazines, online web resources and the team had been asked to speak at various conferences;
  • The team had uncovered some fantastic stories in the collection which would not have been discovered if the project had not been undertaken;
  • Objects were being stored and cared for better;
  • Documentation and information about each object had improved which also, in turn, supported the current work to improve the Museum’s documentation database and allowed the collections to be made accessible online;
  • The project has the full support of key groups including the Waltham Abbey Historical Society who supported the setup of the Museum in the first place.
  • The audit had highlighted objects and collections that required further work and support. A bid for £120,000 from Arts Council England had been made, to support work on the Museum’s Ethnographic Collection. A further external funding bid would be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a partnership project with the Lea Valley Regional Park and Historic England on material relating to the Abbey Church; and
  • So far 10 new volunteers had been recruited for the project with a total of 19 volunteers currently supporting the project. To date, collections volunteers had contributed 556 hours working on this specific project, equating to nearly £5,500 investment into the district.

 

The Committee asked the following questions;

 

·         Could historians and/or collectors be given the chance to purchase items before disposal was considered? The Team Manager for Heritage and Venues advised that the Museum Association had a strict code of ethics which governed the process of disposal. This would allow for the sale of items although the core aim was to ensure that most items stayed within the public domain. The only time an item may be disposed of, would be if they contained hazardous materials or were dangerous damaged. 

·         Would anything be disposed of that had not gone through this process? No.

·         What happened to items that have a legal requirement attached to them? The Team Manager for Heritage and Venues advised paper work has to be completed for every donation which would stipulate the Musuems conditions.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Customer Service Update pdf icon PDF 251 KB

(Susan Lewis) To consider the attached report regarding an update on the Customer Strategy and ‘What our customers are telling us’.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Manager for Customer presented a Customer Service update on the following areas;

 

·         What the Customer were telling the Council;

·         Complaints;

·         Performance for Customer Satisfaction & Complaints;

·         What worked well; Training;

·         the Multi-Channel Digital Platform;

·         Corporate External Communications;

·         Members Technology & Members Contact Process Review; and

·         the Digital Inclusion project.

 

She advised that social media continued to grow as an interactive communications resource as customers reported day to day issues such as fly tipping and littering with the website being the most effective and efficient means of accessing Council Information. The number of formal complaints had reduced and the overall customer satisfaction was 66%. It was noted that complaints resolved with the SLA was 89% and first point resolution was 49% although the customer contact centre had been severally impacted by resourcing issues.

 

At the Civic Offices the Welcome Lounge had opened on 19 July with the general footfall beginning to increase and the Community Hub had opened on 13 September.

 

The Broadway Cash Office continued to see a strong usage of cash payments in addition to the kiosks in Waltham Abbey and Epping. This would be taken into consideration for the report on future options for cash paying customers.

 

Plans were in progress for the launch of a news app – provisionally titled District Matters and following a soft launch in September, the app would provide a digital platform for the Council to share its own and third party news content from partners and other relevant stakeholders.

 

Members were advised that in absence of a full Members Portal, an interim single access point via the website was being developed and would include all the main links that Members may need. Furthermore once a Team Manager for Members Services had been recruited, a working group would be set up to progress the Digital Inclusion Programme.

 

The Committee asked the following questions:

 

·         Was there anything place to assist with the recruitment of staff such as terms, salary? The Service Manager for Customer advised that people were either not moving or a counter offer was made to retain them with a national trend of vacancies. In additional to this, the Customer Services team had experience a number of long term absences. 

·         When would the Members Portal be launched? The Customer & Partnerships Services Portfolio Holder advised that they were due to launch the Members Portal, which contained links to the various frequently ask questions, members contact form and access to Mod.gov. The link could be found at the bottom of the EFDC website home page. It was also noted that the Member Contact Form could be accessed directly from members i pads.

·         Were there lessons to be learnt from the residents use of cash payments?  The Service Manager for Customer advised that this data would be taken and included in a report which would be presented to Members in October 2021.

·         Did the reference to 65 Complaints, mean formal complaints? The Service Manager for Customer advised that was correct.

·         What was the customer journey  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Review of the Housing Allocations Policy pdf icon PDF 279 KB

(J. Gould) To consider the attached report regarding the review of the Housing Allocation Policy.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Community and Wellbeing Director presented a report on the Housing Allocations Policy which was due for renewal in April 2022. The report set out the proposed major changes for the Allocation Policy 2022-2027 and the next steps for the stage 2 consultation.

 

The review had highlighted evidence-based issues and opportunities for inclusion in the Housing Allocations Policy in the following areas.

 

1.            Defining the Priority Bands – To attribute clear identifiable needs level to each band and review the criteria for each band.

 

2.            Priority Date – To prioritise bids for accommodation based on the applicant’s band and then in date order that they had joined that band, rather than when they joined the Housing Register.

 

3.            Medical Categories – To have three medical categories which included band A - emergency medical need; band B - urgent medical need and band C - moderate medical need.

 

4.            Domestic Abuse – To incorporate the requirements of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 into the Housing Allocation Scheme.

 

5.            Homeless Households – To award priority band B to homeless households that the Council had accepted a duty to rehouse under part 7 of the Housing Act 1996.

 

6.            Homeless Households - To afford homeless households the opportunity to bid for suitable properties in accordance with their priority banding, on the understanding that they would be made a direct offer to enable the Council to discharge its duty if they failed to bid or secure an offer via choice based lettings within a reasonable timescale.

 

7.            Under-occupation - To remove the penalty of suspending an under occupier from bidding if they refused 4 offers and replace with a discretionary decision to suspend an applicant who repeatedly bid for, then refuses a property where it was  evident that they have no intention of moving.

 

8.            Under-occupation - To allow under-occupiers wishing to downsize from a house to a flat where they were giving up one or more bedrooms, to be considered for a flat with a spare bedroom (i.e. a couple or single person can move from a 3-bed house to a 2-bed flat or a 1-bed flat) with or without a garden.

 

9.            Serious Unacceptable Behaviour including Rent Arrears - To replace the 7-year rule for all unacceptable behaviour with a prescribed risk-based approach, to determining whether a history of unacceptable behaviour was serious enough to warrant exclusion from the Housing Register. Looking at patterns and severity of behaviour, cause and effect, recent history and support mechanisms that the applicant had, to prevent reoccurrence.

 

10.          Allocation of Accommodation (rent arrears in excess of 4 weeks rent) -  To replace the blanket 4-week arrears rule with a discretionary prescribed risk based approach, to determine whether an offer could be made to an applicant with rent arrears based on the cause of the arrears, and repayment plan.

 

11.          Local Lettings Plans and Key Workers Housing - To include the use of a local lettings plans where appropriate to do so in accordance with the requirements  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Review of the Tenancy Policy pdf icon PDF 235 KB

(J Gould) To consider the attached report regarding the review of the Tenancy Policy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Community and Wellbeing Director presented a report on the Tenancy Policy which was due for renewal in April 2022. The report sets out the proposal not to make any material changes to the terms of the current Tenancy and the next steps for the stage 2 consultation.

 

The Committee were advised that a Government Equalities Impact Assessment in 2016 found that nationwide far fewer councils and housing associations had introduced fixed term tenancies than had been anticipated. A recent desk-top analysis of councils in Essex found that of the other stockholding councils Castlepoint, Colchester, Basildon and Harlow were issuing lifetime tenancies rather than flexible tenancies and many of the Registered Providers operating in Rochford had ceased issuing flexible tenancies because of the disproportionate burden of the review process on their resources.

 

To date none of the 10-year fixed term tenancies in EFDC had reached the point of review and therefore it was felt that it would be prudent to continue with the period until the data was available.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.            That the Committee noted outcome of the stage 1 initial consultation on the review of the Tenancy Policy 2015-2022; and

2.            That the Committee approved the proposal not to make any material changes to the terms of the Tenancy Policy, which would be sent out from consultation to Stakeholders in the stage 2 consultation between October 2021 and December 2021.

 

22.

Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy Review pdf icon PDF 247 KB

(J Gould) To consider the attached report regarding a review of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Community and Wellbeing Director presented a report on the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy which was due for renewal in April 2022. The report set out the proposed recommendations and the next steps for the stage 2 consultation between October and December 2021.

 

The review had highlighted evidence-based issues and opportunities for inclusion in the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy which included;

 

1.            To streamline the strategy for 2022 – 2027 into an easy to read publication and for the associated policy and procedures for preventing and tackling homelessness and rough sleeping to be produced as separate stand-alone documents;

 

2.            To formulate the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy as a set of 5 strategic priorities within the framework of the national context, the local context, and Epping Forest District Council’s Corporate Objectives; and

 

3.            That an Action Plan with SMART targets be produced, following the same style and format as the proposed Overarching Housing Strategy to enable it to feed into service plans, teams and individual one-to-ones.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.            That the Committee noted the stage 1 initial consultation on the review of the Homelessness ad Rough Sleeping Strategy;

2.            That the Committee approved the proposed changes to the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2022-2027 which would be included in the stage 2 consultation between October 2021 and December 2021 and presented to Cabinet in Spring 2022.

 

 

 

23.

Overarching Housing Strategy Review pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Report to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Community and Wellbeing Director presented a report on the Overarching Housing Strategy which was due for renewal in April 2022. The report set out the proposed recommendations and the next steps for the stage 2 consultation between October and December 2021.

 

The review had highlighted issues and opportunities for inclusion in the overarching Housing Strategy 2022/2027 which included;

 

·         The Five Strategic Priorities

 

1.    Increasing the supply of affordable housing – to maximise opportunities to increase the supply of suitable affordable housing;

2.    Promoting health wellbeing and independence - to consider health wellbeing prevention and support when its needed;

3.    Economic growth and regeneration - to strengthen the links with partners to collectively bridge the gap between the cost of housing and the ability of households on low incomes to meet these costs;

4.    Quality and standards - the Council’s commitment to offering high quality housing and housing related services and the recourse that was open to residents who were dissatisfied; and

5.    Protecting and enhancing the environment – to cover the natural environment culture and heritage that was unique to the district.

 

·         An action plan with SMART targets be produced that would follow the same style and format as the proposals for the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy which could then be fed into service plans, team plans and individual one-to ones.

 

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.            That the Committee noted the stage 1 initial consultation on the review of the Overarching Housing Strategy; and

2.            That the Committee approved the proposals for the Overarching Housing Strategy 2022/2027 to the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2022-2027 which would be included in the stage 2 consultation between October 2021 and December 2021.

 

 

 

24.

DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS

To note that the next meeting of the Select Committee will be held at 7.00pm on 11 January 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the date of the next meeting would be 11 January 2022.