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Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Ola Adeoye  020 7527 3044


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies were received from Councillors Cinko-Oner and Graham.


Declaration of Substitute Members

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There were no declarations of substitute members.


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.



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There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 264 KB

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That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 January 2024 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.


Chair's Report

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Chair informed the meeting that as part of the review into the New Builds Homes, he had visited Andover Estate to view the ongoing developments which was very informative in terms of progress and the challenges. Members were advised that the Clerk would be circulating notes of the scrutiny visits to committee members,  


External Attendees (if any)

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Order of Business

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The order of business would be as per the agenda.


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.


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Main Scrutiny Review 2023/24 - New Build Homes - Witness Evidence - Presentation pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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Committee received a presentation from Roger Arnold, Managing Director of Martin Arnold Limited, a multidisciplinary construction consultancy who specialise in residential and affordable housing. The following issues were highlighted:


·       Consultancy currently employs 130 people within the London Borough of Greenwich and although it has never worked with Islington Council on any of its schemes it has worked with 16 London boroughs.

·       It is primarily involved in the residential sector of the industry, working with housing builders, housing associations and local authorities with particular focus on joint ventures between housing associations and developers such as the 1500 units built by Clarion and Countryside.

·       Meeting was advised that current market issues affecting the industry are contractor insolvency, legacy projects, fire remediation, second staircase and Building Safety Act.

·       With regards to contractor insolvency, meeting was advised that in light of the challenging economic climate over the last 12-18 months with inflation, Brexit, a lack of skill set, some contractors have found it difficult to survive and folded up with the result that clients are now left with legacy projects.

·       Legacy projects left behind by contractors are now being picked up by clients especially as contractors are unwilling to undertake housing schemes especially with the risks that might arise further down when carrying out the building process especially with potential increasing construction prices.

·       Fire remediation remains a challenge for the industry with its involvement in rectifying cladding which has been the industry model for over 2 decades with the result that available skills is being overstretched.

·       The provision of second staircase in tall buildings is another issue which has resulted in additional construction costs and raised viability concerns for developers.

·       Another concern is the implementation of the Building Safety Act with its regulator which still remains unclear, a legislation which aims to address safety concerns for high risk residential buildings of over 18m. Most developers have had to include a further period of 15 months to the process of delivering homes, thereby resulting in increase in cost.

·       With regards to construction pricing, the consultant advised that contractors are not willing to take risks, that what is noticeable is that with recent design and build pricing submitted, a number of caveats have been incorporated before you get to the end of contract so clients are taking more risks.

·       Industry is taking a number of measures to mitigate risks by being involved in Joint ventures, a model favoured by housing associations; construction management plans with the use of sub-contractors; having sensible discussions with their legacy projects; sharing knowledge and skill and involvement of Housing Involvement partnerships.

·       Joint Ventures provides an opportunity for both client and contractors to share risks and is a tried and tested model in the delivery of social home and despite the advantages of risk and skill sharing, it also keeps design and build risks lower.

·       Construction Management Schemes exists for ambitious clients, where sub-contractors are employed to carry out the works which is a high risk model, although with its own benefits  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Housing Scrutiny Committee Strategic Review of Overcrowding and Under-Occupation progress report. pdf icon PDF 199 KB

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Ian Swift, Director of Housing Operations presented the report and the following issues were noted:

·     Meeting was reminded that the review conducted by the Housing Scrutiny Committee approved 20 recommendations and these are contained within the attached Action Plan.

·     That at the last meeting a decision was taken for Committee, to receive regular updates to all future Housing Scrutiny Committee meetings on the progress in implementing these recommendations to ensure momentum continues with this important work.

·     The Action plan identifies the following progress for implementing the 20 recommendations: 6 (30%) Green, 14 (70%) Amber and zero Red to implement the recommendations in full.       

·     Meeting was advised that since the report to Executive on purchasing ex right to buy properties was given the go ahead in July 2023, the Council is in the process of completing the purchase or exchange of 6 4 bedroom units and all before the end of the financial year.

·     On the issue of financial incentives for under occupiers, meeting was reminded that following Committee’s recommendation there has been uplift of payments.

·     The Director stated that Islington remains the only local authority in London that buys back ex Right to Buy (RTB) properties, noting that it is difficult to prevent the large 4 bedroom homes being built for social housing from being sold under the scheme however welcoming central government’s decision to remove of the huge discount which was an incentive.

·     On identifying and reporting void properties, the Director advised that he had investigated the issue, noting that Manchester City website offers that opportunity which will be taken on board. If interested he would circulate the information to members if members are interested.

·     Meeting was reminded that of the 10,000 properties purchased under the Right to Buy Scheme, 4500 are let out as private accommodation, that there is a perception that they are council managed. More details will be provided at the April meeting.

·     On whether the purchase of ex Right to Buy (RTB) properties was viable considering the state of some of these buildings, the Director advised that Council spends an average of £10,000 to bring the homes back to decent standard and that this saves the Council a lot of monies from using temporary accommodation.

·    On the RAG rating of amber, meeting was advised that at the next meeting it would be made more clear, however where the status is green it means actions have been completed and amber means it is on the way to completion.

·     On whether officers had any challenges regarding implementing any recommendation, the Director advised that there were none, that there is a good relationship, that the Council has been able to buy more ex RTB properties than any other authorities in London. Meeting was advised that what is taking longer is the launch of Housing Allocation Scheme due to IT issues which should be completed by the end of the financial year. 

·     On resident engagement, the Head of Housing Partnerships Homes & Communication Council highlighted a number of measures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Housing Ombudsman Paragraph 49 Investigation and Action Plan pdf icon PDF 92 KB

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Committee received an update on the Housing Ombudsman Paragraph 49 Investigation and the following issues were highlighted:

·       Action Plan is in place to address all 21 recommendations, as set out in the Housing Scrutiny Committee report presented to committee on 8th January 2024.

·       The Homes and Neighbourhoods service has recently met with the Housing Ombudsman as part of the investigation monitoring process.

·       On the question about timelines for the implementation of the recommendations, the Interim Corporate Director advised that Council is on track and that in some cases some are linked to other issues and that majority will be completed by the end of the municipal year.

·       In response to recommendation around training of both staff and contractors, meeting was advised that the Service is confident of the about all being able to communicate clearly and appropriately with residents.

·       The Corporate Director acknowledged that where recommendations with RAG status indicating red, Senior Responsible Officers (SRO’s), members would have the opportunity to scrutinise the issues around it and able to monitor progress in its implementation.

·       On the question why all recommendations in the report were categorised as high priority, the Corporate Director acknowledged that officers were using a template, and suggesting that he will take it away when brought back at the next quarterly meeting where it would be made clear. A request for officers to provide some more data behind the narrative was noted.

·       Meeting was advised that a further meeting with the Housing Ombudsman team is scheduled for the next day and these meetings are attended not only by the Executive Member and Corporate Director but SRO’s and that these meetings are a regular dialogue.

·       In response to a question, meeting was advised that the Homes and Neighbourhoods service is confident that all 21 recommendations which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based actions will be achieved.


That the report be noted and that an update will be scheduled at quarterly meetings.


New Temporary Accommodation Framework pdf icon PDF 299 KB

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Committee received the Council’s New Temporary Accommodation Framework which was considered and agreed at Executive in July 2023.

·       The Director advised that Committee had requested for the above report at the last meeting and will be discussed in detail at the April meeting to identify the direction of travel. Members are invited to email questions to officers ahead of the next meeting.


That the report be scheduled for the April meeting of the Committee.



Work Programme 2023/2024 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

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Chair reminded meeting that in light of the remaining few meetings of the 2023/24 municipal year, there is a possibility that certain aspects of evidence gathering will be done via online meetings.  Details to be provided later.


That the work programme be noted