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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 4, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Moore  020 7527 3308

Items
No. Item

267.

Two Minutes' Silence

Minutes:

Before the meeting commenced the Committee observed two minutes’ silence for all of those affected by the Finsbury Park terror attack and the Grenfell Tower fire.

 

268.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Doolan.

269.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

270.

Declarations of Interests

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a)     Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b) Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d)      Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

 

Minutes:

None.

271.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:


That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 28 March 2017 be confirmed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

272.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair advised that he had agreed to admit an urgent item onto the agenda to consider the council’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

273.

Order of Business

Minutes:

The Chair advised that the urgent item on the Grenfell Tower fire would be considered as the first discussion item. 

 

It was advised that Item B2, RSL Scrutiny, would be deferred as Family Mosaic Housing Association was not available to attend the meeting.

274.

Public Questions

Minutes:

The Chair set out the procedure for public questions and the filming of meetings.

 

275.

Urgent Item: Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower Fire

Minutes:

The Chair had agreed that this item be considered as urgent business as it was essential for the Committee to consider the fire risks to Islington properties and the council’s response following the Grenfell Tower fire as soon as possible.

 

Sean McLaughlin, Corporate Director of Housing and Adult Social Services, and Simon Kwong, Director of Property Services, addressed the Committee on the implications of the Grenfell Tower Fire.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         It was not yet known why the fire at the Grenfell Tower spread so rapidly. It was likely that there would have been a number of contributing factors, and as these became known there could be regulatory change which would have implications for the council’s housing service.

·         Officers advised of the support that Islington Council was providing to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Grenfell Tower Response Team. Islington had provided four social workers to support those affected by the fire; an Emergency Planning Officer and two Local Authority Liaison Officers had been providing support at the scene and assisting with the emergency response; Housing Needs and Housing Operations staff had been provided to help arrange the temporary housing of those who had lost their homes; the Director of Housing Needs and Strategy had been working as a relief Director of Housing for the Grenfell Tower Response Team; all vacant Islington Council properties were currently being held in case they were needed for temporary accommodation; and Islington was also offering counselling services to the firefighters who attended the scene.

·         Grenfell Tower was managed by Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which had been criticised for not taking action on the safety concerns of Grenfell Tower residents. It was clarified that Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation was a very different type of organisation to the Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) which managed some Islington Council properties. Kensington and Chelsea TMO was effectively an arms-length management association for all housing owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. In contrast, the TMOs in Islington were small scale organisations led by the residents who lived in the properties they managed.

·         Islington Council brought its housing management function back in-house in 2012; it was commented that the fire safety information received from Homes for Islington at this time was exemplary. At this time the council established a Homes and Estates Safety Board which was independently chaired and included representation from a number of agencies, including the London Fire Brigade. The Board met regularly to consider safety issues.

·         The council also held regular liaison meetings with the London Fire Brigade. This considered general safety issues, as well as specific casework related to those most at risk from fire. It was explained that those who were frail or have physical impairments, those who have mental health issues, hoarders, heavy smokers, and people with substance abuse issues tended to be at a higher risk from fire. Joint working between Housing, Social Services and the Fire Brigade  ...  view the full minutes text for item 275.

276.

Quarterly Review of Housing Performance (Q4 2016/17) pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, presented the quarterly performance update.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         It was welcomed that the number of new affordable homes being built had increased in comparison to the same period the previous year.

·         Members raised concern that Partners’ rent arrears and repairs figures were above target. The Executive Member shared these concerns and had met with the Chief Executive of Partners to discuss these concerns, as well as other issues. It was advised that the Executive Member would continue to meet the Chief Executive every six weeks.

·         It was speculated that the lack of under-occupied households that were downsizing was due to fears about changes to tenancy conditions introduced through the Housing and Planning Act. It was also suggested that those moving from older council tenancies to new housing association tenancies may move to a much smaller property without making a significant saving on their rent.

·         It was suggested that downsizing may be encouraged further by allowing households to downsize from, for example, a three-bedroom house to a two-bedroom flat, rather than a significantly smaller one-bedroom flat.

·         It was confirmed that those downsizing were bidding for the same properties as other housing applicants.

·         A member raised that downsizing advice sessions were only held on a Wednesday from 12noon until 2pm. It was commented that this was not convenient for those who worked and it was suggested that changing the days and times of these sessions could make them more accessible and encourage more people to downsize.

·         It was suggested that some performance targets should be reviewed to make them more ambitious.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the progress against key performance indicators to the end of Quarter 4 2016/17 be noted.

 

277.

Membership, Terms of Reference and Dates of Meetings pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the membership, terms of reference and dates of meetings of the Housing Scrutiny Committee for the municipal year 2017/18 be noted.

278.

RSL Scrutiny

Minutes:

Deferred.

279.

Housing Services for Vulnerable People: Final Report pdf icon PDF 486 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be agreed and submitted to the Executive.

 

280.

Scrutiny Topics and Work Programme 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Minutes:

The Committee indicated that it wished to carry out two main reviews of fire safety and the housing services’ communications, and two smaller reviews of the council’s new build programme and how the council works with housing associations. 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the work plan be agreed, subject to the inclusion of reviews of fire safety, the housing services’ communications, the new build programme, and how the council works with housing associations.