Agenda and minutes

Stronger Communities Select Committee
Tuesday, 11th January, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Media

Items
No. Item

25.

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 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 Democratic Services Officer 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.

26.

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.

27.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

28.

Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 21 September 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

That the notes of the previous meeting held on 21 September 2021 were agreed as a correct record subject to Councillor R Balcombe apologies appearing only on the website and not in the notes.

29.

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 made the following comments regarding the Terms of Reference;

 

1.            Clarification was required under Point 3 of the Core Areas of Responsibility, on what Partnerships were within the corporate projects for this Committee, so they could be scrutinised;

 

2.            That the Chairman/Committee completes a detailed review of their Terms of Reference;

 

3.            That the Committee was notified of any Government actions and initiatives which affected the Select Committee areas of responsibility;

 

4.            That in order for effective scrutiny to be carried out by the Committee, reports needed to be presented to the Committee as soon as possible before they were submitted to Cabinet, even if this was a verbal report;

 

5.            That items 7,8,9,10, 15 and 16 on the work programme be organised to ensure that all Housing items were discussed at one meeting and the Presentation of the District Police Commander and Community Safety Report were to be considered at the other scheduled meeting.

 

6.            Could the Committee receive a report on the figures requested under item 20. Unfordable rents.

 

7.             Could a date be provided for items 17, 18, 19 and 20 in the work programme.

 

The Tenants and Leaseholders Chairman, W Marshall advised that between himself and Housing Department, he felt that any initiatives or consultations regarding housing were considered. The Director of Housing and Property advised that going forward she would ensure that the Committee were made aware of any consultations in relations to housing.

 

The Housing Services Portfolio Holder advised that she hoped, that all the Housing Policies and Strategies would be presented to Committee at first meeting in March to ensure that they could be recommended to Cabinet on 7 March 2022.  

 

            RESOLVED:

 

The Committee agreed the following points;

 

1.             That a list of the partnerships which were covered by the Corporate Priorities for this Committee be provided;

2.              That in future Members of the Committee should be informed of any Government actions and initiatives which affected the Select Committee areas of responsibility;

3.             That items 7, 8, 9, 10 (7. Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy Review, 8. Allocations Scheme Review, 9. Tenancy Policy Review; 10 Overarching Housing Strategy); on the work programme be considered together at either of the scheduled meetings on 1 or 22 March 2022;

4.             That items 15 and 16 (15. Presentation from the District Police  Commander and 16. Community Safety Partnership Annual Report and Review of the District Strategic Intelligence Assessment) on the work programme be considered together at either of the scheduled meetings on 1 or 22 March 2022;

5.             That items 17, 18, 19, 20 be discussed at the next Chairman’s APG and either a report be provided, or a date set for the report to be considered by the Committee.

30.

HRA Business Plan pdf icon PDF 737 KB

(D Fenton) To consider the updated HRA business plan and recommendations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Housing and Property Director presented a report on the HRA business plan, which had been developed in partnership with the retained consultant Abovo-Consult. 

 

A bespoke HRA model had been used to enable the Council to provide a reasonable cashflow projection of the next 30 years and was based on evidential data from the Council’s current systems and projections for economic assumptions in the social housing sector. Furthermore, the plan gives the Council the ability to stress test which was vital given the key dynamic risks such as the borrowing rate and changes in Government legislation regarding Social Housing.

 

Officers had taken both a safe and prudent approach when developing the business plan, with a balance between borrowing, developing, and improving the housing stock.  The agreed minimum £2m revenue working capital balance had been maintained throughout the plan. Although all costs has been included in the plan, some potential income had not been included because at present it could not be quantified. The Plan would be amended and updated year on year and throughout, to respond to changes, which would maintain a safe and prudent approach.

 

The report set out the context, background and what the decent home standard were, in conjunction with factors that would affect the plan including the Council’s house building programme, major works, a stock and condition survey and a sector risk profile.

 

The Housing Services Portfolio Holder advised that it was a very detailed and complex report which provided regeneration and the council’s housing building programme, which would ensure that the more deprived areas of the community were invested, and it improved the health of those residents. 

 

The Committee asked the following questions;

 

·         Why had a consultant been used to produce the HRA business plan? The Housing and Property Director advised that EFDC had always used a consultant to write the HRA business plan due to its complexity and additional software required to produce the plan.

·         If there were changes to the assumption within the plan, would it be altered?  The Housing and Property Director advised that the HRA plan would be reviewed yearly by this Committee, O&S and Cabinet to give assurances and to monitor any changes.

·         Why did the HRA Surplus assumptions increase extensively between the years 19 (2039/40) and 20 (2040/41) and 29 (2049/50) and 30 (2050/21) in the Financing Summary on page 45 of the agenda?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Housing and Property Director advised that they would come back with clarification on this point, although the Consultant advised it could be a drop in terms of capital spend due the stock survey being 10 years old. Therefore, a Stock Control Survey was being commission.

·         Would the HRA pick up any costs that the General fund should pick up? The Housing and Property Director assured the Committee that would not happen.

·         Could further details be provided on the areas of the district that would receive urgent works funds set out on page 41 of the agenda. The Housing and Property Director  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

Sheltered Housing - Emergency Alarm System Upgrade pdf icon PDF 279 KB

(D Fenton) To consider the proposal to use Everon to replace the Council’s Hard-Wired Alarm system.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Housing and Property advised that the Council’s current sheltered schemes worked on an analogue telephone system which was being switched off in 2025.

 

The current emergency alarm equipment was around 16 years old, although it still provided a reliable service it had limitations. These included residents needing to get to a pull cord to raise an alarm call and a link limited number of peripherals to the system. The Housing and Property Director advised that technology has moved on and so have emergency alarm systems. Therefore to ensure the alarm systems in the Council’s sheltered housing schemes continued to provide a reliable service, and meet the needs of the residents, they needed to be digitally upgraded. Officers had undertaken a review of systems currently on the market and had recommended the Everon’s Lyra alarm call system.

 

The Committee asked the following question;

 

·         How was the system monitored and maintained? The Director for Housing and Property advised that the Council had KPI’s to monitor how the system performed against expectations and as a cloud based product, it was continually updated.

·         How would the removal of the old system be managed? The Director for Housing and Property advised that the old systems box would be covered and the wiring would be left in place, as it was already internally covered. These issues had been included in the costings.

·         Were the emergency calls dealt with in the same way?  The Director for Housing and Property advised that the service was under a different contract and would be coming up for renewal in 2023, where a procurement exercise would take place in consultation with residents.

·         Has the system been used elsewhere? The Director for Housing and Property advised that it has been used elsewhere, as well as winning a large contract with a local housing association.

·         Wass there a maintenance contract alongside the system? The Director for Housing and Property advised that there would be, although there was a guarantee to replace any faulty units and these units could be lifted and moved to other properties, if required.

·         How did the system work? The Director for Housing and Property advised that the system was designed for residents who maintained independent living in sheltered accommodation, which was not 24 hour care, but officers did visit residents within working hours. The system was designed to allow tenants to continue independent living, however if further care was required officers would make the necessary referrals.

·         What were the costs of the system to the residents? The Director for Housing and Property advised that the capital costs would be covered by the Council although for residents who were not on benefits there would be a weekly charge.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee considered  and commented on the proposal to replace the Council’s Hard-Wired Alarm system with Everon, as to be presented to Cabinet.

 

(A copy of the presentation from Everon had been attached to the Minutes for Members reference)

 

32.

DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS

To note that the next meeting of the Select Committee will be held at 7.00pm on 1 March 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the date of the next meeting would be 1 March 2022.