Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest

To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Dean, Foley and Reeve.

 

 There were no declarations of interest.

 

 

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To consider the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 20 May 2022 were approved as accurate. 

 

The Chair agreed to hear agenda item 8 next for the benefit of the Property   Services Manager NORSE Group.

 

3.

NORSE Partnership

To review the workings of the NORSE Partnership.

 

Minutes:

HB11  

NORSE PARTNERSHIP

 

Councillor Khan questioned the social and added value of the partnership for Uttlesford. He referred to the original Norse proposal and requested an update on the promised delivery of one hundred apprenticeships. He wanted his concerns noted about the lack of evidence of added value and consequential failure to identify success or weakness.

 

The Property Service Manager agreed that the lack of context was frustrating, and explained that operational practises were complicated during the pandemic.

She said that the document Cllr Khan referred to provided a broad brush overview and was a good starting point for further review. She suggested that NORSE should communicate more through the Housing Board to clarify areas of concern.

 

Councillor Khan read out the agreement detailing the improvements promised in the proposal by NORSE and noted the need to understand the performance of NORSE and to hold the administration to account. He said that residents report that NORSE are slow to respond to complaints and concerns.

 

The Chair confirmed that he sat on the Board and that these questions have been put to NORSE. He confirmed that NORSE said that the offer for apprenticeship covers the whole of NORSE, although they would be looking into it in the next nine months. He said that the performance indicators were being worked on and were a new thing not previously undertaken by the administration. He acknowledged that mistakes have been made on both sides, and that these partnerships took some years to bed in. He said that the housing department have worked tirelessly and that he anticipated vast improvements in the next six to nine months.

 

Councillor Merifield said that young people are finishing school now and needed to be able to access the apprenticeships now. She said that this large company should be able to provide the apprenticeships promised in a timely fashion, cascaded down through their company. She said that the delay was unacceptable.

 

The Property Services Manager acknowledged that the recruitment team have approached NORSE regarding specific course choices and conversations have been undertaken with the Operations Director of NORSE Group. She agreed that the apprenticeship delivery should be a priority and that she would clarify and report back. She noted that they needed to be able to support apprenticeships with qualified professionals working in the relevant fields.

 

The Assistant Director of Housing Health and Communities said that loss of staff and general staff retention had been an added complication, and noted that during the pandemic had been a difficult time to start a partnership. She confirmed that every performance indicator had been challenged, and that she has requested that all compliance data is checked by an external Surveyor as well as by the Council’s own Surveyor.

 

The Leader of the Council said that she understood that there were teething issues but the administration were moving forward collaboratively.

 

Following questions from Councillor Driscoll the Property Services Manager confirmed that residents receive text confirmations advising of arrival times, which triggers the despatch  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Development Update pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To note the contents of the report.

Minutes:

The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager provided an update on the current and proposed development by the Housing Revenue Account across the district.

 

She noted that the redevelopment of Walden Place already had an agreed budget.

 

Following questions from Councillors Driscoll and Khan the Housing Strategy and Operations Manager confirmed:

  • The right to buy opportunity would not apply to the older person properties
  • The bid for the Barratt homes was made on the basis of the properties being offered at affordable rent
  • The Council House target was currently short by forty seven properties

 

The Chair confirmed that Members have the opportunity to challenge policies where they see fit.

 

The Leader of the Council said that social and affordable rent could be considered.

 

Councillor Khan said that all new council homes should only be offered at social rent that was truly affordable, particularly given the current cost of living crisis.

Councillor Merifield agreed, but noted that there was only so much money and that consideration should be given as to which option would house the most residents.

 

The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager agreed to ask the Housing Revenue accountant to model both rent systems for comparison.

 

The Leader of the Council concluded that in principle everyone agreed, but that the financial implications required consideration.

 

The report was noted.

 

Councillor Lemon left the meeting.

 

5.

Business Plan Update

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Housing Health and Communities confirmed that she had requested an urgent update on the Business Plan by the new accountants.

 

She confirmed that it would be distributed before September 2022.

 

6.

Housing Enabling Update pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To note the projected affordable housing completions.

 

Minutes:

The Housing Enabling and Development Officer provided an update on the projected affordable housing numbers for the coming year.

 

The projected affordable housing completions were noted.

 

7.

Homelessness Update pdf icon PDF 167 KB

To note the update.

Minutes:

The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager provided an update on the Homelessness Strategy Action Plan and the current homelessness situation in the district.

 

She confirmed that there were currently sixteen Council temporary accommodation units but still had to use bed and breakfast hotels to accommodate people, although this was avoided as much as possible. The Council did not have any contracts with specific bed and breakfast hotels.

 

The report and reviewed Action Plan were noted.

 

 

8.

Fixed Term Tenancies pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To consider recommending a revised Tenancy Policy that removes Fixed Term Tenancies to Cabinet.

Minutes:

The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager presented a report which recommended the amendment of the council`s Tenancy Policy to remove Fixed Term Tenancies.

 

The Leader of the Council noted that there was insufficient council housing locally which resulted in residents being forced to move out of their local area.

 

Members resolved to recommend to Cabinet that they revise the Council`s Tenancy Policy to remove Fixed Term Tenancies

 

 

9.

Uttlesford Norse Service Lead Performance Indicator Updates pdf icon PDF 403 KB

To receive an update.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Housing Health and Communities provided an update on the Performance Indicators and invited Housing Board members to visit the Newport depot and view the systems in place.

 

The Member of the Tenant and Leaseholder Panel reported that the Tenants Panel were back in action meeting with the Safety Partnership and would be visiting Reynolds Court next week.

 

The Leader of the Council confirmed that the Tenants Panel Forum could meet in the Committee Room at the Council Offices in Saffron Walden.

 

The meeting finished at 12:51.