Agenda and minutes

Housing Scrutiny Committee
Thursday 12 July 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Boardrooms 3-5 - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Nikoleta Nikolova, Governance Officer  tel: 0208 937 1587, Email: Nikoleta.Nikolova@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence and clarification of alternate members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Ms Karin Jaeger (co-opted member)

2.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the nature and existence of any relevant disclosable pecuniary or personal interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.

Minutes:

None.

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 309 KB

To approve the attached minutes from the previous meeting on 21 March 2018 as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 March 2018 were approved as an accurate record.

4.

Matters arising (if any)

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

The committee heard a follow up on the request for a performance indicator on the impact of landlord licensing scheme on illegal rubbish dumping in Brent which the committee had previously recommended to Cabinet at the meeting on 21 March 2018. Members heard that the aim of the landlord licensing scheme was to improve quality of accommodation and were advised that the focus be shifted on reviewing recycling issues which were better linked with the environmental provision in HMOs.

 

RESOLVED:-

      i.        That the Operational Director and Lead Member for Housing address the issue of tackling fly-tipping and take forward ways of measuring and analysing outcomes with Environmental Services

    ii.        That, following its autumn publication, the Operational Director of Housing shares findings from the Landlord Licensing Report with the Committee

5.

Deputations (if any)

To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.

Minutes:

None.

6.

Petitions (if any)

To discuss any petitions from members of the public, in accordance with Standing Order 66.

Minutes:

None.

7.

Capital Programme Overruns pdf icon PDF 108 KB

The report seeks to inform the committee’s understanding on  overruns occurred in the Capital Programme, the impact of these and the ongoing work to reduce them

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the invitation of the Chair, Hakeem Osinaike (Operational Director Housing) introduced the report and gave a general overview of the Capital Programme, focusing in particular on the issue of overruns, their impact on leaseholders and the mitigation plans put in place.

 

In the discussion which followed members sought further clarification on covering the cost of works, contract management and overruns. Particular onus was paid on the issue of overspends and recouping the cost of works when the total bill had  exceeded the original estimates by 25% or more of the original contract value. Members further questioned how works evaluations were carried out, the reasons for the occurrence of discrepancies between them and actual cost and the processes which were in place to ensure the accuracy of estimates and prevent overspends which fell below the 25% threshold from happening. The Committee felt strongly on the issue of cost management and the adverse financial impact experienced by leaseholders in Brent. In noting some of the measures set out in the report, the Committee also flagged up the importance of developing specific cost indicators and maintaining historical data to allow for estimates to be continuously benchmarked and compared against in the long term.

 

In acknowledging members’ concerns, officers explained that under the Landlord and

Tenants Act 1987, a Section 20 notice had to be served before any works could be carried out, allowing residents to comment and make any observations prior to commencement of work. With the exception of emergency repairs, the totality of any incurred spend was funded by the Housing Revenue Account, with service fees subsequently subsidising the charges. It was noted that this in turn had a knock on effect on available funds and restricted Council’s capacity to carry out any future repairs, thus stressing the importance of accurate estimates. It was also stated that at the core of the overspend laid contractual management flaws, which were inherited from Brent Housing Partnership, with delays impacting on the total cost and penalty clauses no longer deemed adequate. Members were assured that the Council was determined to follow the processes stipulated within the law in order for estimates to be done accurately and fairly before a Section 20 was served

as well as seek to reduce the overall number of reissued notices going forward. The

Council was committed to seeking best value for money when contracting a repair  but noted that quotes were currently based on the difference between estimates and actuals. It was stated that that the Council had a long-term agreements with Wates to carry out contractual works but assured that independent surveyors would do all preliminary measurements before a Section 20 was served to the residents.

 

Discussion continued with officers referencing section 6 from the report and briefing

members about some of the mitigation measures which had been introduced by Housing Management as part of the Capital Programme. The committee was assured that a 3 year rolling programme was already under way alongside a stock condition survey to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Overview of Resident Engagement Framework pdf icon PDF 199 KB

This report provides an overview of Brent Housing Management resident engagement framework, the associated delivery plan as well as an overview of current performance in the contact centre together with the improvement activities underway to deliver further improvements to the Council’s call handling performance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Troy Francis (Head of Housing Management Customer Service) drew members’ attention to the report and highlighted some of the key points. He explained that the previous resident engagement offer was considered obsolete, nor did it achieve the level of outreach required to actively engage with residents, with strong evidence suggesting that the previous approach had only reached 3% of the residents. Therefore, the Council was committed to developing a new, more engaging framework which would put residents at

the forefront of shaping services and would offer choice in terms of ways to engage.

 

In the subsequent discussion, the committee raised questions on the new resident engagement framework and sought more information on the role and function of the customer experience panel. Officers informed that at the heart of the new framework would be a twelve person council wide customer experience panel, who would represent residents from a wider range of social and economic backgrounds and would ensure their views were represented before the Council. Members paid particular emphasis on the need to improve engagement with the youth and ensure they were represented on the panel. In

acknowledging the members recommendation, officers advised that the new structure would ensure commitment to resident involvement on all levels, paying particular onus on maintaining local conversations, setting example through senior management but also carrying inspections to ensure expectations were met. It was highlighted that the organisational structure was already there through the existence of neighbouring network groups but an ever stronger focus would now be paid on capturing neighbourhood related

activities and ensuring views of panel were inclusive and representative of the diversity in Brent.

 

Discussion moved to the methods of engagement envisioned in the new resident strategy. Points were raised on a range of issues including the overall service commitments, the need for a joint holistic approach and fair involvement of residents from all property types and providing accessible options for engagement, including appropriate use of technology and social media. Members suggested that in engaging with residents, the Council should consider time commitments and tailor any events to the residents’ availability. In acknowledging members’ concerns Hakeem Osinaike explained that a number of ways would be available to residents, including virtual meetings, use of CRM and extending meeting locations beyond the Civic Centre. With regards to service commitments, the committee heard that were two sets of strategy available – corporate customer promise and housing promise, with an additional resident charter due to be published. Mr Francis added that the Council was determined to improve management of resident interactions and was particularly keen to hear residents’ feedback on different matters. Local views would therefore be captured through a variety of methods such as surveys, focus groups and consultations, while also offering a wider choice to residents to engage on a day to day basis. Whilst acknowledging that not all residents may be comfortable using technology, he assured the committee that face to face interactions would be retained through the new housing management model. This would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Estate Parking Project pdf icon PDF 117 KB

The report provides the Committee with an outline of the Estate Parking Project, commissioned by Housing Management and working in collaboration with the Parking and Highways teams in Environmental Services, to consider the introduction of more effective parking controls.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the invitation of the Chair, Hakeem Osinaike (Operational Director Housing) introduced the Estate Parking Project report which set out the Council’s proposed solutions to estate parking. It was noted that following the Protection of Freedom Act 2012 parking on housing estates had become increasingly problematic and have restricted the Council’s ability to carry out effective enforcement action. The proposals set out in the report therefore envisioned the introduction of the first controlled parking scheme commencing with five

estates in the borough by September 2018. In acknowledging the challenges at stake, officers advised that an essential element of the new measures was the proposed increase in parking permits from £10 to £85 which was required to fund appropriate enforcement action.

 

In the subsequent discussion, members raised questions on the affordability of the proposed increase, the effectiveness of planned enforcement and overall consultation processes with residents. Members were particularly critical of the level of detail provided in the report, noting that many questions remained unanswered. They expressed concerns that the new parking charges may leave residents feeling penalised by the Council putting them in hardship. The Committee also questioned whether the Council had investigated fully the level of proportionality between the number of parking spaces available on each estate and number of people as well as any additional arrangements in place including exemptions for staff and short term visitors parking.

 

With regards to the increased charges, members heard that there was clear evidence highlighting the inadequacy of the current charges and the lack of adequate parking enforcement funding. The proposed increase was considered a viable solution which would also ensure better residents’ compliance. Officers emphasised their commitment to manage residents expectations and be clear about the implications of the changes, stressing that estates would not be obliged to take up the changes unless residents decided to do so. However, it was noted that the estates which chose not to accept the new charges would not have any parking enforcement carried out. It was noted that the £85 charge would bring the cost of parking permits in line with the CPZ scheme, without the

complex pricing schedules, with the Council reserving the right to review the cost in the future, depending on the demand and subject to consultation. Members heard that any funds raised by the parking charges would be ring-fenced within the Housing Revenue Account and would be separate from CPZ management, with any loss or profit made to be reported on.

 

On the issue of enforcement, officers addressed members concerns and explained that the current implementation, carried out by Wing Security, had been limited in scope and had flagged up issues imposed by the legal restrictions on accessing DVLA data. This had reduced the effectiveness of issuing penalties on unauthorised vehicles, permitting enforcement officers to target only those residents whose details were already known to the Council. In order to tackle these issues, the Council had recently extended its parking

contract with Serco to carry out enforcement on public highways  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Annual Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 80 KB

This report summarises the work of the three scrutiny committees during the 2017-2018 municipal year.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:-

      i.        That the contents of the Annual Report be noted

 

11.

Housing Scrutiny Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:-

      i.        That the contents of the Work Programme be noted

 

12.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:-

      i.        That the contents of the report be noted

13.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 60.

Minutes:

None.