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Agenda and minutes

Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday 15th October, 2014 7.00 pm

Venue: Bourges/Viersen Room - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Dania Castagliuolo, Governance Officer  Email: dania.castagliuolo@peterborough.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Maqbool.

 

2.

Declarations of Interest and Whipping Declarations

At this point Members must declare whether they have a disclosable pecuniary interest, or other interest, in any of the items on the agenda, unless it is already entered in the register of members’ interests or is a “pending notification “ that has been disclosed to the Solicitor to the Council.

Members must also declare if they are subject to their party group whip in relation to any items under consideration.

 

Minutes:

Item 6. Progress Report Care and Repair Home Improvement Agency

 

Councillor J R Fox declared that he was the Chairman of the Care and Repair Working Group.

 

3.

Minutes of the Meeting Held on 3 September 2014 pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 3 September 2014 were approved as an accurate record.

 

4.

Call In of any Cabinet, Cabinet Member or Key Officer Decisions

The decision notice for each decision will bear the date on which it is published and will specify that the decision may then be implemented on the expiry of 3 working days after the publication of the decision (not including the date of publication), unless a request for call-in of the decision is received from any two Members of a Scrutiny Committee or Scrutiny Commissions..  If a request for call-in of a decision is received, implementation of the decision remains suspended for consideration by the relevant Scrutiny Committee or Commission.

 

Minutes:

There were no requests for Call-in to consider.

 

5.

Portfolio Progress Report from Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Services pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Services to provide Members with a progress report in relation to matters relevant to this Committee.

 

The Council’s Constitution set out the responsibilities of the Cabinet Member, including:

·         Homelessness, Housing Options and Supporting People

·         Traveller Sites

 

These responsibilities fell under the remit of the Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee, other responsibilities contained within the Cabinet Member’s portfolio fell outside of the remit of the Committee. 

 

Key points highlighted were as follows:

 

·         Empty Homes

·         Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EMDO’s)

·         Empty Homes Partnership

·         Consulting with other Councils

·         Awards

·         Housing Related Support

·         Care and Repair

·         Homelessness in Peterborough

·         Rent Deposit Scheme and Discretionary Housing Payments

·         The Tenancy Relations Service

·         The Peterborough Homes Allocations Policy

·         Partnership Working

·         Rough Sleeping in Peterborough

·         Mortgage Rescue Scheme

·         Single Persons Homelessness

·         Housing Enforcement

 

Members were asked to scrutinise the progress made on the aspects of the Cabinet Member’s portfolio relevant to the Committee by providing challenge where necessary and to suggest ideas and initiatives to support the continued delivery of priorities within that portfolio.

 

Observations and questions were raised around the following areas:

 

·         Members referred to page 10 of the report 5.1.2 ‘ The current number of properties being charged the empty homes premium was currently 114’ , when in 5.1.1 of the report it stated that there was currently 430 long term empty homes. Members asked the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Services to explain this discrepancy between those numbers. Members were advised that sometimes the ownership of an empty home was difficult to ascertain. It was also dependent upon timescales, as the Council would look in to an empty property for six months or more, then Council Tax would take a different view on the people who were required to pay the premium.

·         Members asked what the criteria was for empty homes. The Head of Housing and Health Improvement responded that the Empty Homes Officer would take action once a home had been empty for 6 months. The Council did not know about empty homes until they were reported. They would generally go unnoticed and be in a bad state before they were reported.

·         Members were concerned that the Council’s enforcement criteria was different to the Fire Service’s safety criteria. Members were advised that Peterborough City Council would inspect properties under the Housing Rating System and electrical safety was included in this system. The Council did carry out visits with a fire officer.

·         Members referred to page 12, 5.4.4 where it explained that the Department for Communities and Local Government funding for the three officers in the homelessness prevention team was due to come to an end in March 2015 and queried what impact this would have and if there would be any likely costs as a result of that loss. Members were advised that this would have an impact. Structures were currently being worked on with partners SERCO to ensure that there was enough specialist preventative officer time to carry out  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Progress Report Care and Repair Home Improvement Agency pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Minutes:

The Care and Repair Manager introduced the report which provided the Committee with an update on the performance and achievements of the Care and Repair Home Improvement agency over the last twelve months.

 

Care and repair was established as a Home Improvement Agency (HIA) in Peterborough City Council almost twenty years ago.

 

The key points highlighted within the report were as follows:

 

·         Achievements

·         Performance

·         Benchmarking

·         Further development

·         Impact

 

The Committee was asked to scrutinise the performance and achievements of Care and Repair by providing challenge where necessary and to suggest ideas and initiatives to support the continued delivery of priorities within the service.

 

Observations and questions were raised around the following areas:

 

·         Members commented that Care and Repair was such a successful service due to the work of the Care and Repair Manager and his team.

·         Members Congratulated Care and Repair on the awards they had received.

·         Members queried how the work of Care and Repair was turned over so quickly and how costs were kept low. The Care and Repair Manager responded that the Handy Person Scheme was the cheapest way of completing jobs. Work was carried out by self-employed people and the price was set at an hourly rate.

·         Members queried how much it would cost to change a light bulb. Members were advised that it would cost around £8.50 although, some Housing Associations would send an electrician in to change a florescent tube and it could cost up to £100.

·         Members queried what the turnaround time was as there was no waiting list. Members were advised that each case was different. The new contract states that if a case is not urgent it would be turned around within 7 days and if a case was urgent then it would be turned around within 24 hours.

·         Members queried how it would be possible to let the public know about Care and Repair. Members were advised that Care and Repair was advertised on the Council’s website, the Care and Repair Manager would go out and give talks about the service and the Council’s call centre could point people in the right direction.

·         Members suggested that Care and repair could be advertised on the Council Tax bills.

·         Members thanked the Care and Repair Scheme as it had recently helped an 87 year old lady with her gardening.

 

ACTION AGRED

 

Members agreed for the Care and Repair Manager to investigate the possibility of advertising Care and Repair on the Council Tax bills.

 

7.

Compliance and Enforcement Policy for Regulatory Services pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Public Protection Manager introduced the report which presented the Committee with the new Compliance and Enforcement Policy for Regulatory Services.

 

The policy set out how non-compliances with legal requirements should be responded to.

 

The new Compliance and Enforcement Policy replaced the previous Enforcement Policy and had been written in accordance with the Regulators’ Code which came in to statutory effect this year. The code provided a flexible, principals based, framework for how regulators should engage with those regulated.

 

The Policy applied to all enforcement practices undertaken by Peterborough City Council Regulatory Services, including Trading Standards, Licensing, Taxi Licensing, Food Hygiene, Health and Safety, Environmental and Pollution Control and Statutory Nuisance.

 

By adopting this and publishing this policy, the Council would demonstrate its commitment to the principals of good regulation and to working with businesses and the community to secure compliance. It created transparency for all stakeholders as well as supporting the council in its decision making process.

 

Consultation had taken place with officers in Regulatory Services and on adoption of the policy, training would be provided to all officers to ensure they were familiar with its provisions. A cross section of businesses had also been contacted. In particular, businesses were asked:

 

·         Was the policy generally easy to understand, and if not how could it be improved?

·         Did it clearly explain the enforcement sanctions that were available to us as a local authority, and how we may choose the appropriate sanction?

·         Did the policy demonstrate that the local authority were trying to act fairly and proportionately at all times?

·         Any other comments

 

Consultation was in progress, although, feedback from businesses to date had been taken on board and incorporated in the policy. Businesses that had responded were generally supportive of the policy and felt it was clear and easy to understand.

 

Consultation was also taking place with representatives of community groups as well as key partners including, HMRC and Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

 

Members were asked to scrutinise the policy and provide comment or feedback as they considered appropriate.

 

 

 

 

Observations and questions were raised around the following areas:

 

·         Members were concerned that they had seen licenses for alcohol and tobacco revoked and the stores were shortly back in business and queried how this was dealt with. The Public Protection Manager responded that the Enforcement Team looked at using other mechanisms. Alcohol licenses would be called in for review, this had an impact and sent a clear message out to traders.

·         Members queried whether licenses could be taken away from the premises and not the individual. The Regulatory Services Strategic Manager responded that if businesses had operated badly then a license would be revoked and the premises could be closed down. The Enforcement Team were carrying out proactive work to encourage businesses to follow good practice.

·         Members queried whether the Food Hygiene rating system was still running. The Public Protection Manager responded that this was a programme managed nationally by Food Standards. Businesses were not currently required to display their certificates. 

 

 

ACTON AGREED  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

City Market pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Minutes:

The Market Development Manager introduced the report to the Committee to provide Members with an overview of the City Market operation and proposed future planning regarding:

 

·         Market Services

·         Performance

·         Expenditure/income and service costs

·         Staffing numbers and staffing issues within service

·         Opportunities for service

·         Service threats

·         Service objectives for 2014/15

 

The Committee was asked to note and comment on the work of the City Market and propose further scrutiny in relation to its business activities.

 

Observations and questions were raised around the following areas:

 

·         Members congratulated the Market Development Manager on the report and on the developments of the market.

·         Members queried whether the market was going to be relocated and commented that it would be a shame if this was the case as the market had good facilities very close by. The Market Development Manager responded that discussions on relocation of the market had taken place before his appointment and commented that it was important to develop the existing market.

·         Members were concerned that members of the public did not use the market as it was not well advertised and suggested that marketing of the market was included within the budget, as this would generate more custom. Members were advised that this issue had been addressed in the marketing plan. The plan was to have a social media presence, clear signposting, an established food court and market research was going to take place to find out what customers would like to see at the market.

·         Members suggested that having a Facebook page and Twitter account for the market would help with promotion.

·         Members commented that if the market was in a warmer environment it would be more welcoming to customers especially where food was being served. Members were advised that the food court idea was for hot street food and the focus would be on quality.

·         Members commented that there was no supermarket in the city which sold the variety of fruit and vegetables that were sold at the market.

·         Members queried what action could be taken to get people in Peterborough to use the market. Members were informed that the whole plan was to change the dynamics of the market. Stalls were to be used as a showcase and it would need to be evident that the market was changing for the better and growing.

·         Members suggested that a bank holiday market could be held to let people know where the market was and what was on offer. The market Development Manager agreed that events would need to be held regularly to increase the visibility of the market. There was a food festival planned for 2015.

·         Members asked if the market could be made in to a smaller indoor market. Members were advised that to achieve this would require a very large capital investment and by doing this it could send out a message that the market was failing.

·         Members suggested that holding a Christmas market could draw people in to the existing market. Members were informed that a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the latest version of the Council’s Forward Plan of Key Decisions, containing key decisions that the Leader of the Council anticipated the Cabinet or individual Cabinet Members would make during the course of the forthcoming month.  Members were invited to comment on the Plan and, where appropriate, identify any relevant areas for inclusion in the Committee’s work programme.

 

ACTION AGREED

 

The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions and agreed to receive a briefing note on the following key decisions:

 

·         Fit to Rent Scheme

·         Invest to Save Scheme

 

 

10.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Minutes:

Members considered the Commission’s Work Programme for 2014/15 and discussed possible items for inclusion.

 

AGREED ACTION

 

Members noted the work programme for 2014/2015

 

11.

Date of Next Meeting

18 November 2014

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that the next date of the Meeting for Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee was due to be held on Tuesday, 18 November 2014.

 

 

 

 
Peterborough City Council. Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HF - (01733) 747474
 
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