Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions
Contact: Ola Adeoye 020 7527 3044
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillors Lukes and Debono.
Declaration of Substitute Members
Councillor Gantly substituted for Councillor Lukes.
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.
There were no declarations of interest.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 13 March 2018 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.
The Chair, Councillor O’Sullivan
welcomed everyone and in particular the newly elected councillors
to the first meeting of the Housing Scrutiny Committee of the
2018/19 Municipal year.
Order of Business
The Chair advised that the urgent item on the Whitecross Estate would be considered as the first discussion item.
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.
The Chair set out the procedure for public questions and the filming of meetings.
Councillor O’Sullivan informed Members
that due to the safety concerns on Whitecross Estate, Peabody had sent representatives
to the meeting to address and respond to questions from the
Flammable insulation had been identified on Peabody Tower and St
Mary’s Tower. Peabody had implemented ‘waking
watch’ arrangements, however members were concerned about the
conduct of waking watch staff and Peabody’s response to the
fire, including communication with residents and the
Peabody had not informed ward councillors of plans to decant
vulnerable residents from their flats and were only made aware of
this issue after receiving calls from concerned
Peabody had written to residents to advise on evacuation plans.
Members were concerned about the effect of Peabody’s letter
on the residents as it would have increased their levels of stress
and anxiety especially as the letter was received around the first
anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire. The meeting was also told
that residents were worried as Peabody staff had not been briefed
on the evacuation plans, especially as enquiries resulted in
residents been told to contact either fire officers or their
The Committee was informed that reassurances about the conduct of
waking watch staff were provided, however subsequent spot checks
undertaken by Councillors Gallagher and Graham revealed that some
staff did not know what they were supposed to be doing, were not
wearing high vis vests, and did not have any form of identification
on them. Members were concerned with the placement of tables and
chairs on landings and in stairwells and escape routes, as this
would create a trip hazard in the case of any fire
The Committee was concerned that, despite the fire risk which had
been communicated to residents, no attempt had been made by Peabody
to remove items of furniture and an unhinged door left abandoned in
the building corridors.
The Committee heard evidence that the meeting with the residents
convened by Peabody could only be described as inadequate and
disappointing. The Committee commented that sending out invitation
letters should have been backed up with door knocking by Peabody
staff and the use of electronic notice boards. It was also worrying
that the fire service was not present, as this would have provided
some reassurance to residents. It was also concerning that
residents were continuing to hold barbecues in the vicinity of the
· In response to issues raised above, Ashling Fox, the COO of Peabody acknowledged that the whole issue had not been managed well and apologised on how the initial and subsequent responses had been handled. The COO advised Members that, although not an excuse for the way things were handled, there were issues with the waking watch contractors, and confirmed that training had now been provided, fire drills had been carried out, bulk waste ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
That the membership, terms of reference and dates of meetings of the Housing Scrutiny Committee for the municipal year 2018/19 be noted.
Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, presented the quarterly performance update.
The following main points were noted in the discussion:
Members were informed that the Council’s target for
downsizing residents has been challenging despite offering
financial incentives. Members were advised that the take up for the
new scheme built specifically for over 55’s in Kings Square
has been disappointing, however the Council would continue
reviewing this issue.
Members were advised that the target for new affordable homes in
2018/18 remains 466, however as house building principally lies
with housing associations and private developers, the Council has
limited control on the delivery timescales, however the Council
would continue supporting measures to achieve the target.
With regards to the First Time Fix target of 85%, Members were
advised that the reason for the fall in performance for responding
to emergency repairs was due to the high volume of repair request
experienced during the poor weather between January and March. In
most of the cases the team were dealing with more ‘make
safes’ however the Council would be looking at how it will
respond to these peaks in the future. The Executive Member for
Housing informed Committee that he would bring back to the
Committee on specific measures on how to deal with these repairs at
a future meeting.
Members were informed that its first batches of operatives having
completed their multi skill training programme are now being
provided further support in the field to practice their new skills
which will be of benefit to both the residents and the operatives
in the long run as operatives with multi skills could address
issues while in a property instead of calling out for a
Councillor Ward informed Members that although there had been no
reported glitches with the new IT system, further improvements are
to be introduced in the second phase of the project which would
allow managers monitor the performance of their staff on a daily
Members welcomed the good news that the number of households in
nightly booked temporary accommodation had fallen, due to the
enormous work of staff and in particular the Trail Blazer Programme
which recognises the need to intervene before people become
homeless. Councillor Ward welcomed the central government programme
but was concerned with the impact when funds are withdrawn in 18
months. Members were told that the Council recognises the need to
work with landlords, employers by intervening early on issues such
as universal credit, rent plan etc, all measures that will mitigate
homelessness. It was noted that a main reason for homelessness was
the end of an assured shorthold tenancy.
· In response to a question of young people trained with multi skills to be involved in repairs especially for elderly tenants, the Service Director , Homes and Communities advised that the Councils’ apprentices placed within the Council’s repair services carry out remedial works such as removal of trip hazards while in a property but are not responsible for repairs of internal doors. ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
The Committee indicated that it wished to carry
out two main reviews, responsive repairs and
homelessness. As part of the review on
responsive repairs, the Committee will include issues around
That the work plan be agreed, subject to the inclusion of reviews of responsive repairs, homelessness.