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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Ola Adeoye  020 7527 3044

Items
No. Item

153.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Councillors Gallagher, Hamitouche, Spall and Mackmurdie

154.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None

155.

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

156.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 January be confirmed as a correct record of the proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them

157.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair stated that a visit had been arranged for Tuesday 10 March to L.B. Newham in connection with the Major Works Scrutiny Review. Transport has been arranged, and will leave the Town Hall at 1.00p.m. The meeting is at 2.00p.m.

Councillors O’Sullivan, Spall and Rose Marie-McDonald have indicated that they will attend, and the Chair stated that if there are any other Members interested in attending to contact the Clerk or the Chair prior to the visit

 

The Chair further stated that an additional meeting of the Committee had been arranged for 19 March at 7.30p.m. in order to receive witness evidence in relation to the Private Rented sector

 

The final meeting of the Committee for the municipal year is on 21 April, which will consider the draft recommendations/final report on the Major Works Scrutiny Review

 

 

 

158.

Order of Business

Minutes:

The Chair stated that the order of business would be as per the agenda

159.

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:

The procedures for Public questions, filming and recording at meetings and fire evacuation were outlined

160.

2018/2019 Mini Scrutiny Review (Homelessness) - Final Report pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Minutes:

 

 

 

RESOLVED:

That the report be approved and forwarded to the Executive for consideration

 

 

 

161.

Main Scrutiny Review : Major Works - Witness Evidence

Minutes:

Tony O’Brien was present for discussion of this item and a report was laid round for Members

 

During consideration of the report the following main points were made –

 

·       The evidence showed that Councils benefitted from having work carried out by DLO’s. With restrictions on borrowing requirements lifted it gives Councils the opportunity to expand DLO’s or create new ones

·       Noted that contractors generally make a profit of 25% or above, whereas a DLO exists to provide a quality construction service, with any surplus money returned to the Council. DLOs are the alternative to many construction scandals of use of public money that have been highlighted in the Press

·       Noted that DLO’s could employ locally employed people who will contribute  to the local economy. Many workers of construction companies are not directly employed and are denied full entitlement to wages, sick pay, holiday pay, pensions, health and safety and trade union representation. DLOs can overcome the problems of corrupt and anti-competitive contract rigging

·       A number of contractors have been involved in tendering for construction work against Council DLOs, which has led to many of them losing work, with workers being made redundant

·       The private sector has been deliberately driving up the cost of housing by holding back land and not building new homes

·       It was stated that the following changes should be made – build greater numbers of social housing, extend long term programmes for existing DLO to do, take steps to bring back DLO, strengthen contract compliance policies, bar contractors from approved lists who have a record of price fixing, contract rigging, serious breaches of health and safety law and blacklisting of workers, and establish a policy that prevents the sale of existing social housing and Council owned land to private property developers or housing associations

·       A Member expressed the view that whilst it is true that Councils are not achieving value from contractors, as Islington is a small borough and there is not land available for development it would be necessary for a tri-borough or Pan London DLO to be set up, as this would guarantee a regular work flow

·       Reference was made to the salaries of workers in the construction industry and the cost of plant and that the workforce could earn more in the private sector than working for a DLO. It was stated that many workers were not even paid the LLW and initially the DLO could hire plant and purchase this eventually with the monies saved from employing contractors

 

The Chair thanked Tony O’Brien for attending

162.

Quarterly Review of Housing Performance (Q3 2019/2020) pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development was present for discussion of this item

 

During consideration of the report the following main issues were raised –

 

·       39 affordable new homes have been completed so far this year, as anticipated

·       There had been delays on the Redbrick and Belfont homes, however 24 of the new the 51 new homes at Kings Square have been brought forward and are expected to be handed over in Quarter 4 2019/20 rather than the next financial year. Therefore the forecast total of new homes to be completed in 2019/21 is 63

·       89 new affordable homes have been completed by developers in Islington to date. This figure is below the figure for last year, however it is anticipated that 315 will be completed by the end of the year

·       No planning permissions were agreed for new Council housing and this is below the target set, of planning permission for 3 new homes being completed for the end of this quarter

·       There were no new homes completed this quarter and 7 Council homes were lost to Right to Buy. 27 Council homes have been lost to the Council this financial year. Therefore with a forecast build of 63 new Council homes, the net growth for the end of the financial year is currently forecast for 36 should there be no further Right to Buys in the final quarter

·       There are 34 severely overcrowded households assisted to relieve their overcrowding this quarter, giving a year total of 111 to date. This is slightly below profiled target, but better than the equivalent point last year

·       118 under – occupying households have been supported to downsize this year, including 26 in the past quarter. This is slightly below the profiled figure and the equivalent point last year

·       Housing repairs performance has continued to improve from 87% at the end of the previous quarter, to 87.4% at the end of this quarter. This is significantly better than the same point last year, which was 81.3%. Members congratulated the Executive Member and officers on this improvement

·       Partners’ repairs - these are often higher value repairs and delayed by leaseholder consultations, scaffolding works etc. Partners aim to keep the number of works exceeding 3 months to a minimum. At present 17.5% of major works have been open for 3 months

·       Rent income collection – Rent arrears have continued to slowly increase, from 3.4% of the total rent roll at the end of September 2019, to 3.6% at the end of December. This is slightly above the profiled target for this point of the year. This is a continued consequence of the switch over to Universal Credit. Tenants on Universal Credit currently account for 53% of total arrears, and around 200 tenants a month are switching to Universal Credit, so this trend is likely to continue. 72% of all tenants in rent arrears are on UC, compared to 42% who are not on UC. The switch to Universal Credit is also impacting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 162.

163.

Partners for Improvement - Presentation

Minutes:

Tom Irvine, Partners for Improvement, was present for the meeting and made a verbal presentation to the Committee

 

During consideration the following main issues were made –

 

·       Partners stated that they had been invited to the Committee to discuss 3 areas – Activities, Performance and Challenges

·       Noted that L.B.Islington has 2 PFI contracts with Partners - PFI 1 and PFI 2 and manages over 6000 street properties on behalf of the Council

·       The homes inherited from the Council were street properties in poor condition and it was necessary to bring these up to decent homes standard and kitchens, bathrooms and boilers had been installed. Partners carry out 1600 responsive repairs per month and other repairs such as major works. There is also a cyclical maintenance team and Partners collects rent  and service charges

·       Partners also apply for court injunctions and evictions and have staff dealing with tenancy changes and receive 7000 telephone contacts per month

·       There is a Home Ownership team and a street engagement team, who engage residents and Partners wished to thank those residents who had engaged with them. There are about 400 items of correspondence dealt with each month. This includes a total of 11 enquiries received from Council Members.

·       Partners support the Fairer Together agenda and also support local communities such as with the Xmas Party and a Cinema Club

·       In relation to performance there are regular meetings with Councillor Ward and Council officers to monitor performance. PFI 1 and PFI 2 have clearly defined P.I.’s that need to be reported and challenged by the Council

·       The Council are able to propose changes to the indicators that Partners report

·       Challenges include – Fire Safety – an assessment has to be made of the communal areas however the Council is responsible for some areas of Fire Safety including the current programme to install inter-linked fire detection and warning systems, emergency lighting and fire doors.

·       Communal areas must be kept safe and clear on the advice of the London Fire Brigade and fire safety experts. Arrangements were being made with tenants to copy keys where Partners did not have these to access communal areas. Partners asked for Councillor support for these essential policies

·       Partners managed street properties and these are often not well insulated and hard to keep warm and despite fitting new boilers this remained a challenge for residents

·       Partners were currently in consultation with the Council on the arrangements for a handover of the PFI 2 contract. The challenge is to ensure that there is a joined up approach to ensure that different parts of the service give the best outcomes for tenants, and it is recognised that more can be done. Partners did review complaints to ascertain how improvements can be made

·       Partners stated that they wished to deliver a good service and would work with tenants and the Council to achieve a smooth transition for residents

·       The challenge is to ensure there is a joined up approach to ensure that different parts of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 163.

164.

Work Programme 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 37 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the report be noted