Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions
Contact: Howard Bassett, Democratic Services Officer (Committees) Telephone 01392 265107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign the minutes of the meeting held on 4 January 2018.
The minutes of the meeting held on 4 January 2018 were taken as read and signed by the Chair as a correct record.
Declaration of Interests
Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item. Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.
No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interest were made.
To receive questions from Members of the Council to appropriate Portfolio Holders.
In accordance with Standing Order No 20, Councillor Hannaford had submitted questions on LGBTQ issues and the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
A copy of the questions had been previously circulated to Members and these, together with the responses from Councillor Bialyk, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Communities and Sport is appended to the minutes.
In accordance with Standing Order No 19, Diana Jones submitted a question on the Advisory Service. Responding to a Member, she advised that she had been prompted to ask the question as there had been insufficient commentary in the Committee papers for a lay person to fully understand the report detail.
A copy of the question had been previously circulated to Members, and this, together with the response from Councillor Packham, Portfolio Holder for the HRA is appended to the minutes.
To consider the report of the Chief Finance Officer.
The Technical Accounting Manager advised Members of any major differences, by management unit between the approved budget and the outturn forecast for the first nine months of the financial year up to 31 December 2017 in respect of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and the Council’s new build schemes. An outturn update in respect of the HRA Capital Programme was also incorporated in the report in order to help provide a comprehensive financial update in respect of the Housing Revenue Account.
During this period, the total budget variances indicated that there would be a net surplus of £1,180,101 in 2017/18. This represented a significant movement of £3,667,716 compared to the budgeted deficit of £2,487,615 for 2017/18 with, most notably, £2,700,000 attributable to delays with the St Loyes Extra Care scheme. This meant that the HRA was forecast to transfer over £1 million into its Working Balance, rather than taking £2.5 million out of its Working Balance, at the end of the financial year.
The current HRA Capital Programme showed a total forecast spend of £7,414,521 compared the £10,497,645 revised programme, a decrease of £3,083,124.
The Chair reported that the Financial Reporting Working Group had met and reviewed the financial reports ahead of their presentation to Scrutiny Committees and that he had subsequently put a number of questions to officers for reporting to this meeting. In respect of these, the following responses were provided:-
· certain vacant posts in Housing Assets and Council Own Build had been covered using temporary arrangements, as recruitment to the vacant posts was pending the outcomes of the Housing Quality Network review of the Assets team which completed in December 2017 and the completion of the stock condition survey. These posts had now been filled and there were no longer multiple vacancies. The posts were necessary as an extensive level of capital works were planned, to the value of £12 million in 2018/19 and £37 million over the next 5 years; and
· an employers’ liability insurance claim had been settled by the Council and related to a former council employee. Both the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Communities and Sport and the Planned Repairs Lead enlarged on health and safety precautions that would be in place for the re-development of the Bus Station site in order to manage exposure to asbestos.
The Planned Repairs Lead updated Members on progress with an extensive procurement programme still taking place and the Director (BA), in response to a Member’s query, advised that any identified risks within the housing service were included on the Housing Risk Register, which fed into the Corporate Risk Register. In respect of the filling of posts, she also confirmed that agency staff were only used in extremis and that the Council had been successful in recruiting to the permanent posts.
Responding to a Member, the Portfolio Holder for the HRA agreed that the lack of sufficient Central Government funding and the imposition of various controls was a significant contributory factor to the nation’s housing ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
To consider the report of the Chief Finance Officer
The Principal Accountant advised Members of any material differences, by management unit between the approved budget and the outturn forecast for the first nine months of the financial year up to 31 December 2017 in respect of People Services. An outturn update in respect of the People Capital Programme was also incorporated in the report in order to help provide a comprehensive financial update in respect of the People Services budget.
The current forecast suggested that net expenditure would increase from the approved budget by a total of £305,840 after transfers from reserves and revenue contributions to capital. This represented a variation of 10.17% from the revised budget and included a supplementary budget of £372,160.
The System Lead Finance responded to questions from the Chair on Housing Benefits which is attached to the minutes.
People Scrutiny Committee noted the report.
To consider the report of the Director.
The Director (BA) introduced the report indicating that the Stock Condition Survey was critical to the Business Planning for the Council’s Housing Stock. The survey allowed for work on the viability of the stock and the development of an Asset Management Plan to identify future investment needs. Traditionally, only 10% of stock had been surveyed but the Survey undertaken last year had surveyed 40% of the stock and the service was working towards 100% completion.
The Director (BA) welcomed Adrian Pengelly to the meeting who was new in post as the Planned Repairs Lead within the Housing Assets Service.
The Planned Repairs Lead presented the report informing Members of the condition of the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) properties and setting out the plan for the continuation of stock surveys until 100% of properties have been surveyed. The Council in February 2017, had commissioned a stock condition validation exercise via external consultants Michael Dyson Associates (MDA). MDA had been commissioned to undertake 3,528 surveys - 2,991 dwellings (60%) and 537 blocks (100% of blocks - in line with industry best practice). The survey data had subsequently been combined with the existing data held to inform the overall stock investment programme.
The Planned Repairs Lead presentation covered the need for the survey, the historic and current position, the criteria for decent homes standard, the investment requirements for each ward and, in summary, he advised that the survey information of 64% provided a robust platform for investment planning purposes, offered medium (5-year) and long (30-year) term assurance and would help deliver the Government’s energy efficiency targets. He also reported that the stock viability assessment would complement stock condition data analysis, inform the Asset Management Strategy and ensure that active asset management principles are applied to investment.
Responding to Members’ queries, he advised that there was strong competition between potential contractors and that Council contracts were attractive logistically because of the City’s compact nature which, in turn, also helped the Council achieve economies of scale. The elements of each contract were tightly drawn up and included requirements for a living wage etc. He would be available to discuss in further detail the individual ward investment requirements with ward councillors as required.
Another Member referred to the previous tenant liaison arrangements and the Director confirmed that futureminutes of the performance scrutiny partnership meetingscould be made available to the Committee.
Scrutiny Committee - People noted the stock condition survey data and the plans for continual assessment of investment requirements.
To consider the report of the Communities Programme Manager.
The Programme Manager Communities presented the report providing the following updates on community issues:-
The City Council had an extensive Community Grants Programme with around £1.5 million awarded annually to community organisations through a range of grant processes. A breakdown of the grants was provided and Members were advised of the intention in 2018 to review the city council policy, system and process in order to consolidate the programmes and revise criteria to link to council priorities. One Member queried how information on the grant process was filtered through to the community and it was generally recognised that a simplification of the grants process would be beneficial because of the varying grant application processes.
A further report on process and recommendations would be submitted at a later date.
Council on 25 July 2017 had agreed £610,000 over five years (£300k New Homes Bonus (£300k) and £310k from neighbourhood portion of Community Infra-Structure Levy: CIL) to fund Community Builders across the City .This would build on the existing community builder roles funded through the Integrated Care Exeter (ICE) Wellbeing Exeter programme until March 2018. Because of the expansion of Wellbeing Exeter and the Sport England Local Delivery Pilot status, it was proposed to expand community building so that all wards would have access to a community connector and community builder. It was proposed that funding be front-loaded in light of the Wellbeing Exeter and Sport England programmes for a three year period in the first instance: 2018/2020. Anecdotal feedback indicated that the community builders could have a real impact on improving people’s lives and supporting the local community.
Responding to a Member, the Programme Manager advised that documentation such as evaluation reports on the community builders could be made available to Members on request and the Community builders could also be requested to provide feedback on their work at a ward level. Members were encouraged to have good contact with their local community builder.
Delegated powers had been given to the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Communities and Sport and the Programme Manager to agree adjustments to the original plans for the deployment of Community Builders and for them to do this in consultation with the Chair of the Exeter Community Forum.
Grass Roots Grants/Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy
The Council received recommendations from the Exeter Community Forum (ECF) Grass Roots Grants Panel on expenditure for the neighbourhood portion of the Community Infra-Structure Levy (CIL) (£3.75 million over 10 years ring-fenced for community led initiatives) The Grass Roots Grants criteria included a number of programmes contributing towards the goals of the ECF Community Strategy endorsed by the Council.
To date, eight organisations had been awarded a grant through the Grass Roots Grants process totaling £167,913. It was noted that the Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing, Communities and Sports represented the Council on the grants panel.
Exeter : A young people friendly city - Exeter Youth Voice.
The City Council was taking the lead co-ordination role for ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 - Exclusion of Press and Public
To pass the following resolution:-
RECOMMENDED that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for item 11 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.
RESOLVED that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the next item on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Rennes House Options
To consider the report of the Director.
The Director (BA) and Housing Development Officer presented the report outlining the history behind Rennes House, past decisions made and setting out costed options for the refurbishment works required to the building. Rennes House was a 10 storey tower block used as older persons accommodation (over 60’s) located in the Whipton Barton Area of Exeter providing 61 homes to Council tenants on a social rent.
The four options presented were:-
(1) full refurbishment;
(2) minimal refurbishment;
(3) demolition; and
(4) wider regeneration.
Refurbishment would necessitate the relocation of tenants either internally or externally as work progresses. This would be a complex process to ensure that internal moves and decants are undertaken in the most efficient way to ensure both minimal disruption to the residents and not to disrupt the build programme.
The Portfolio Holder for the HRA enlarged on the advantages and disadvantages of each option and explained the reasons behind her preference for the first option of full refurbishment. It would provide a high quality refurbishment which would guarantee the lifespan of the building going forward for a minimum of 40 years, would be in keeping with Chester Long House another new development in the immediate area, it provided significant savings in heating costs and would improve thermal comfort and indoor air quality and it was the preferred option of tenants.
It was noted that the report recommended the following work which did not form part of the options:-
(1) carry out fire engineering recommendations including Automatic Opening Vent installation and new dry riser; and
(2) replace service risers including water and electrical distribution and remove asbestos from the risers.
Decant costs would also need to be included and final costs would depend on whether a partial or full decant was required.
Members discussed the options, one Member referring to three earlier schemes for re-development which he felt should also have been put forward as options at this stage. It was noted however that these were conceptual rather than detailed plans.
A Member supported the re-modelling of the ground floor which would make the laundry and scooter storage more accessible for all and create additional communal space, whilst other Members welcomed the proposal as the one supported by the residents themselves.
There was unanimous support for the option of full refurbishment and Members were presented with, and supported, a series of sub options within the main proposal, costs of which were circulated.
Scrutiny Committee - People noted:-
(a) the report setting out the refurbishment works required to Rennes House, alongside the costs of refurbishment in relation to the value of the building; and
(b) the responses to the consultation undertaken with Rennes House residents as detailed in the report; and
requested Executive to support the option for proceeding with a full refurbishment of Rennes House, with sub options as circulated.