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Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Ola Adeoye  020 7527 3044

Items
No. Item

71.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Mackmurdie

72.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

There were no declarations of substitute members.

73.

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:

There were no declarations of interest.

74.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 February 2019 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

75.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair informed members that he recently an event at the Centre Point where he received a presentation regarding young people and homelessness which was very informative and could be fed into the committee’s review on this issue.

 

 

76.

Order of Business

Minutes:

The order of business would be as per the agenda.

77.

Public Questions

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.

 

Minutes:

None

78.

Scrutiny Review - Draft Recommendation ( Homelessness)

Minutes:

On the issue of homelessness, the meeting was informed that although community groups had been invited to share their experiences and questionnaires sent, the Committee had not been able to obtain any responses or information to collate.  In addition Councillors who had participated in the street count in December 2018 had not been able to share their evidence with the committee.

The meeting was also informed that in light of the above factors and the committee not being able to fully consider the Housing Reduction Act and the Council’s Homeless Strategy, a decision has been taken with the permission of the Chair that the review be included in the work programme in the 2019/2020 municipal year.

Members agreed that an informal group of three councillors be set up to continue with the review especially as evidence nationally clearly indicate that with the continuing economic uncertainties this was a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

The informal group of 3 councillors would carry out visits, speak to and receive  evidence from community groups in line with what has been agreed in the Scrutiny Initiation Document during the summer months with a view to producing draft recommendations by the autumn of 2019.

Councillors Lukes, O’Sullivan and Khondoker agreed to be on the Informal group to continue the review into Homelessness.

RESOLVED:

1.    That an informal group of three councillors continue with the review into Homelessness and report back to the committee its activities and findings by the autumn of 2019.

2.      Councillors Lukes, O’Sullivan and Khondoker will be members of the informal group.

79.

Scrutiny Review - Draft Recommendation ( Responsive Repairs)

Minutes:

A copy of the draft recommendations was circulated at the meeting for consideration. The Chair informed the meeting that the draft recommendations before Members was not an exhaustive list and welcomed any additional recommendations to be submitted to the clerk of the committee.

RESOLVED:

 

That the draft recommendations be noted, subject to including an additional recommendation which will read: ‘The Service needs to focus on a detailed analysis of the root causes of service failures within the population of repair jobs not completed first time to identify the reasons for failure and put in place measures such as systems approach thinking to correct these failures.

 

80.

Fire Safety in Council Housing - Executive Member Response to Recommendation pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Minutes:

The Chair took welcomed Maxine Holdsworth, Islington’s Corporate Director of Housing following her stint at Kensington and Chelsea Council in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire incident in 2017.

During consideration of the report, the following points were made:

 

·         With regards to the recommendation about sprinklers, meeting was advised although not a panacea, concerns still remain about safety, its maintenance and vandalism. The Director assured the meeting that Council is currently carrying out a full appraisal of this issue and work is ongoing with the implementation of wet risers in high rise buildings which will be done in conjunction with fire safety guidelines.

 

·         On the issue of safety around communal areas in buildings, members welcomed the provision of cycle hangers on council estates but that it should not be at the expense of resident safety. Councillor Ward indicated that he would look into this issue in conjunction with concerns raised about request for keys.

·         Members welcomed the support of the Council’s SHINE support network and use of other services such as SHP or social services to vulnerable residents.

·         In response to concerns about evacuation plans of vulnerable people and caretakers not having a list of those in need, the Corporate Director Housing reassured members that with over 35000 properties, a new approach is required that looks at high complex risks. Council is currently working with the fire service to identify tall buildings with complex layouts on areas where assistance would be required by residents.

·         With regard to recommendation 1, it was noted that although the Grenfell Tower inquiry is still ongoing, things were being done especially with the Council considering the potential implications of the Hackitt review into the regulatory framework relating to fire safety.

·         Recommendation 2 – An interim report detailing actions that the Council will carry out following fire safety related reviews will be brought back to the Housing Scrutiny Committee in due course. Members requested that fire risk assessment registers for all high rise buildings be updated in other to provide some reassurance to residents.

·         Recommendation 5 –The Corporate Director Housing acknowledged that although PEEPs are noticeable in work places buildings, its effectiveness was  still dependent on the presence of a member of staff to execute the plan, however following advice from the Fire Services, Premises Information Boxes which is to help direct firefighters to vulnerable tenants in residential blocks is being piloted at Braithwaite House, Perth House, Selkirk House and Fyfield.

·         Recommendation 6 – The view was expressed that with regards to properties being managed by Partners for Improvement and plans to bring it back in house, the Committee should consider reviewing Partners evacuation plans to ensure it is in line with the Council’s.

·         Recommendation 10 – Members requested that the issue of retro fitting of sprinklers be revisited by Council.

·         Recommendation 12 – Members welcomed the policy of zero tolerance in respect of resident belongings being stored in the common areas. On the issue of obtaining keys to street properties and the anxiety  ...  view the full minutes text for item 80.

81.

Quarterly Review of Housing Performance (Q3 2018/19) pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, introduced the quarterly performance report.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         Members were informed of two new indicators to be reported quarterly; the number of affordable homes completed by developers and the total number of affordable homes. Members were advised that the Council is on target of building 1900 new homes by 2022, of which 550 will be Council homes. Members were reminded that the supply of homes is secured through its S106 legal agreements with developers.

·         The Executive Member advised that the first time fixes of 81% was below the 85% target however the Council continues to aim to do better.

·         With regards to the rent arrears of 2.9%, the meeting was advised that this was solely due to the impact of the implementation of the Universal credit.

·         On the issue of homelessness, the meeting was informed that the council is meeting its objective to reduce homelessness through its partnership working and the Trailblazer initiative, however members were reminded that the funding received from central government was limited.  Meeting was advised that insufficient supply of affordable housing and the removal of assured short-hold tenancies in the private sector such as housing associations still remain the reasons for an increase in homelessness and only a change in government policy would result in an improvement.

·         Members were advised that the Homeless Reduction Act has resulted in additional duties and responsibility on local authorities without additional funding support.

·         Members were informed of the success of the multi skill training of the operatives, a positive initiative which well received by both the operatives as a career development and by residents.

·         Meeting was informed that the Council currently has 6 apprentices and 2 new trainee surveyors with emphasis on local residents.
 

·         In response to the Chair request for a detailed report on the 19 % of repair works that required multiple visits by operatives and the reasons, the Executive Member for Housing indicated that he would look into this and report back.

·         In terms of affordable homes, the Executive Member advised that affordable is a statutory definition which the council does not recognise. In terms of the Council’s planning permissions any development planned, of the 50% described as affordable, 35% must be genuinely affordable for social or council rent and the rest intermediate housing such as shared ownership.

·         With regards to concerns about housing associations in the borough disposing their housing assets and using the proceeds to build homes in other parts of the country, the Executive Member Housing reassured members that the council would only dispose assets that were in a serious in a state of disrepair and would expect similar standards but had no control in how they manage their assets. The Executive Member Housing informed that he would be raise this issue with representatives of Clarion Housing and seeking their explanation.

·         On the issue of damp and mould, Councillor Russell mentioned a project that the GLA and a RSL  ...  view the full minutes text for item 81.