Agenda and minutes

Communities & Housing Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 21st January, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Damian Eaton  (0161 474 3207)

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 3 December 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes (copies of which had been circulated) of the meeting held on 13 December 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors and officers to declare any interests which they have in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors and officers were invited to declare any interests which they had in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

No declarations of interest were made.

3.

Call-In

To consider call-in items (if any).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no call-in items to consider.

4.

Portfolio Performance and Resources - Third Update Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To consider a report of the Corporate Director for Place Management & Regeneration.

 

The Third Update Portfolio Performance and Resource Report for the Communities and Housing Portfolio is presented for consideration by the Committee. This report is shorter, and more data-driven, providing highlights and exceptions reflecting progress in delivering the portfolio priorities and budgets since the Mid-Year Report. It includes forecast performance and financial data for the Portfolio, where new data is available, along with an update on the portfolio savings programme.

 

With a reduced level of detail being provided within the reports, councillors are asked where possible to direct any questions or requests for further information in advance of the meeting via Democratic Services to enable the timely provision of additional information.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is recommended to:-

 

(a)       Consider the Third Update Portfolio Performance and Resource Report;  

(b)       Comment on the new approach and format of the report as outlined above;

(c)       Review the progress against delivering key projects, priority outcomes, targets and budgets for 2018/19;

(d)       Highlight key areas of and responsibility for taking forward corrective action to address any performance or resource issues;

(e)       Highlight any significant issues or changes to be fed back to the Cabinet alongside the Corporate Performance and Resource Report; and

(f)        Identify how areas of strong performance and good practice can be shared in other services.

 

Officer contact: Alan Lawson on 0161 474 5397 or email: alan.lawson@stockport.gov.uk; Kora Yohannan on 0161 474 4032 or email:  kora.yohannan@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Corporate Director for Place Management & Regeneration submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) detailing the third update Portfolio Performance and Resource Report for the Communities and Housing Portfolio providing highlights and exceptions reflecting progress in delivering the portfolio priorities and budgets since the Mid-Year Report. It includes forecast performance and financial data for the Portfolio, where new data is available, along with an update on the portfolio savings programme.

 

The Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing (Councillor Sheila Bailey) also attended the meeting to respond to councillors’ questions.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         Members welcomed the new, rationalised presentation of the data within the Portfolio Performance and Resources update report.

·         In response to a question in relation to whether the housing target for Stockport in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework of 15,474 homes for the period up to 2037 was revised downward with the completion of any new development, it was stated that account had already been taken of the existing anticipated annual supply of new homes.

·         It was stated that while the report indicated that there had been an increase in the number of people that had presented as homeless within the first three quarters of 2018/19, there had been a legislative change which meant that the criteria for presenting as homeless had changed which allowed people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do so, now could.

·         In response to a question about proposed reductions in capacity in the Public Realm service, whether this would reduce the ability of the Council to respond to incidents of fly-tipping, it was stated that there would be no demand at all for this service if it were not for the small minority of people who considered it acceptable to fly-tip around the borough.  It was stated that those people who committed these acts would likely continue to do so regardless of the capacity made available within the Council to remove the illegally dumped material.

·         Further information was requested in relation to the training and care of staff within the Council and Totally Local Company who dealt with the removal of hazardous waste materials.

·         It was commented that following the introduction of new LED lighting columns, a number of residents had complained that this had resulted in an increase in the number of dark spots between lighting columns as the footprint of the luminaire was not as wide as the older sodium lights.

·         Further information was requested in relation to the activities of Operation Dovetail which aimed to prevent people being drawn into terrorism and extremism.

·         In response to a comment around the difficulties encountered when requesting the installation of a new litter bin, it was stated that one of the budget proposals was actually to reduce the number of litter bins following a review of the current distribution and usage of them.

·         Members of staff were actively encouraged to report ‘near-misses’ in a positive way so as to ensure that action could be taken to minimise risk within the workplace. 

·         A discussion took place in relation to the setting of targets for crime and whether these had been appropriately indexed.  In response it was stated that this would be fed back to the Safer Stockport Partnership.

·         It was noted that there had been 743 new homes built in Stockport which was significantly above the target of 500 for the current year and in the light of this the target for 18/19 of 550 seemed unambitious.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

5.

MTFP Cabinet Response: Our Budget Chocies for 2019/20 - Scrutiny Consultation Round 3 (Jan 2019) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To consider a report of the Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing

 

The Cabinet has developed a four year medium term strategy based around five cross-cutting themes. These frame the choices the Council need to make about its budget both next year and in future years, the five themes are:

 

·          Getting the most out of our spending;

·          Improving Customer Experience;

·          Making sure we have the right property in the right places;

·          Sharing services with other organisations;

·          An organisation fit for the future.

 

A suite of proposals have been developed by Cabinet which forms the first phase of this programme for 19/20. Scrutiny has since received a series of updates on the development of these proposals. This report forms the latest update and in line with the update provided to committees in November, particular includes consideration of proposals for 2019/20, prior to Cabinet decision-making in February.

 

NOTE: Proposal 7 relating to Public Realm has been marked ‘to follow’ and will be published on Monday, 14 January 2019.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to comment upon the proposals appended to this report.

 

Officer contact: Holly Rae on 0161 474 3014 or emailholly.rae@stockport.gov.uk

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) detailing a suite of proposals that had been developed by the Cabinet as part of a four year medium term strategy based around five cross-cutting themes which frame the choices the Council needs to make about its budget both next year and in future years.

 

The Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing (Councillor Sheila Bailey) attended the meeting to present the report and respond to councillors’ questions.

 

Proposal 4: Community Safety Services

 

·         Following longstanding difficulties experienced with transient groups of young people committing anti-social behaviour across and outside the borough in past years, it was commented that it was important that as part of any new arrangements, intelligence sharing between and within agencies and partners was robust and effective.

·         It was commented that Stockport Homes did a very good job of handling issues of anti-social behaviour with their tenants, however it was queried whether there was sufficient expertise within the service to deal with much wider and more complex issues of anti-social behaviour on a boroughwide basis.

·         A councillor commented that it was a positive move to have a single service responsible for dealing with anti-social behaviour.

·         It was confirmed that Stockport Homes would provide a comprehensive service to address anti-social behaviour to all areas of Stockport regardless of whether they had any of their own housing stock in that locality or not.

·         In response to a query about the removal of security patrols from certain properties and whether this would contribute to an increase in associated criminality or anti-social behaviour, it was stated that often patrols had been introduced in response to a specific issue, and that a review would take place of all current patrols to determine whether there was a still a need for a patrol at each location in light of the prevailing situation in each area.

 

Proposal 7: Public Realm

 

·         Concern was expressed in relation to service reductions in this area where there were already problems resulting from reduced patterns of maintenance and that this proposal would result in a perception that Stockport was being ‘run-down’.

·         Reductions in maintenance of grass verges may result in an increase in trips and falls by vulnerable residents caused by overgrown vegetation encroaching on the footway.

·         The proposals to reduce cleansing cycles and mowing frequencies in parks may encourage local residents to take increased ownership of their locality; however this provided an opportunity for increased community engagement, the Council cannot simply pass its responsibilities onto local residents.

·         There was a risk that those groups and organisations which already played an active part in the maintenance and upkeep of parks and public spaces may increasingly feel ‘put-upon’.

·         Further clarity was requested on those specific areas within parks and open spaces which would be subject to reductions in grounds maintenance.

·         There was the potential that these proposals may incur a bigger cost the town in terms of public perception that the savings proposal will achieve.

·         The Cabinet Member clarified that a lot of the discussion suggested that the Council would no longer undertake routine maintenance or collect litter, when in fact the proposal was to do things in a different way to a different schedule.  It was stated that while greenspace was a personal priority and it was regrettable that these proposals had been brought forward, there simply was not the resource available to continue to provide the service in the way it was currently done; and that the priority for the Cabinet was to defend the most vulnerable people in the community and to allocate as much resources as possible to vulnerable adults and children in care and so budgetary reductions had to explored from elsewhere in the budget.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

6.

Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget and Rent Levels for 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider a Joint Report of the Corporate Director for Place Management and Regeneration and the Borough Treasurer.

 

The purpose of this report is to provide the Scrutiny Committee with the opportunity to comment on an illustrative Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget. The Cabinet will be meeting on 5 February to recommend to Council an HRA budget for 2019/20, including the level of rent and service charges.  The illustrative budget is based on a number of key assumptions set out in the report regarding income from rent and service charges; expenditure commitments contained within the HRA 30 year Business Plan and Asset Management Strategy and indicative spending requirements to support inflationary pressures and identified investment priorities.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is recommended to comment on the report and the illustrative HRA Budget for 2019/20. 

 

Officer contact: Michael Cullen on 0161 474 4631 or email: michael.cullen@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Corporate Director for Place Management & Regeneration submitted a joint report of the Corporate Director and the Borough Treasurer (copies of which had been circulated) detailing an illustrative Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget, including the level of rent and service charges.  The illustrative budget was based on a number of key assumptions set out in the report regarding income from rent and service charges; expenditure commitments contained within the HRA 30 year Business Plan and Asset Management Strategy and indicative spending requirements to support inflationary pressures and identified investment priorities.

 

The Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing (Councillor Sheila Bailey) attended the meeting to present the report and respond to councillors’ questions.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         There was an uneven distribution in the number of right-to-buy sales over the past few years.  In response it was stated that there were a number of factors that had contributed to this which included changes to the discounts available to buyers, promotion by external organisations and the collapse of Carillion which delayed work on the valuation of properties.

·         A new rent strategy would be devised following the conclusion of the four year rent reduction policy imposed by the government.

·         The increased sale of houses under the right-to-buy policy increased pressure on the availability of accommodation in the private rented sector, where rents were already roughly twice that of the social rented sector, and contributed to an escalation of these costs.

·         In response to a comment by the low attendance at Stockport Homes’ customer hub meetings, it was stated that as rents were currently in a period of annual reduction tenants were less likely to engage.

·         Work continued to develop a strategy for the introduction of sprinklers in the Council’s portfolio of high rise properties.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

7.

Active Community Strategy Consultation including Walking & Cycling Strategy pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To consider a joint report of the Director of Public Health and Corporate Director for Place Management & Regeneration.

 

This report paper presents The Active Communities Strategy (ACS) which has recently been developed to promote physical activity in Stockport. There are a number of supporting plans to the ACS. This report also presents the recently revised Walking and Cycling Plan.

 

The intention is to consult widely on these two specific strategies/ plans before they are finalised and presented to Cabinet for endorsement.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is asked to consider and comment on the proposed approaches.

 

Officer contact: Dr Donna Sager on 0161 474 3928 on donna.sager@stockport.gov.uk or Caroline Simpson on 0161 218 1940 or email: caroline.simpson@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Corporate Director for Place Management & Regeneration submitted a joint report of the Corporate Director and Borough Treasurer (copies of which had been circulated) detailing the Active Communities Strategy which had recently been developed to promote physical activity in Stockport alongside the recently revised Walking and Cycling Plan.

 

The Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing (Councillor Sheila Bailey) attended the meeting to present the report and respond to councillors’ questions.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         It was commented that there was insufficient emphasis on disadvantaged groups and that more needed to be done to improve the walking environment and remove the barriers to access to cycling for communities in the centre of Stockport.

·         Consideration needed to be given to making provision for the charging of e-bikes, particularly as the topography of the centre of Stockport made conventional cycling a less attractive proposition.

·         The maintenance of TfGM’s bike hubs at railway stations needed to be significantly improved.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

8.

Agenda Planning pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To consider a report of the Democratic Services Manager.                                                       

 

The report sets out planned agenda items for the Scrutiny Committee’s next meeting and Forward Plan items that fall within the remit of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to consider the information in the report and put forward any agenda items for future meetings of the Committee.

 

Officer contact: Damian Eaton on 0161 474 3207 or email: damian.eaton@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) setting out planned agenda items for the scrutiny committee’s next meeting any relevant Forward Plan items.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.