Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea
Contact: Louise Hollingsworth Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 01424 787815
To authorise the Chairman to sign the minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 29 April 2019 and 22 May 2019 as correct records of the proceedings.
The Chairman was authorised to sign the Minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 29 April 2019 and 22 May 2019 as correct records of the proceedings.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillor D.B. Oliver and Robin Vennard, Assistant Director Resources.
As part of the Member Induction process for 2019, a report outlining each Committee’s roles and responsibilities would be presented to the first ordinary meeting of each Committee in the new municipal year. The report of the Executive Director outlined the role and functions of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC).
A question was raised regarding public attendance at Task & Finish Groups (T&FG). Members were advised that it would be the decision of the T&FG, but it was usual for meetings not to be open to the public to allow a more informal and productive way of working between Members and officers, enabling evidence gathering and open discussion. Work of a T&FG would be reported back to the OSC.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
The Chairman welcomed Daniel Clarke and Carl Valentine from East Sussex County Council (ESCC), who gave a presentation to Members on the outcome of the recent consultation exercise into the Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) proposals for the district, attached at Appendix A.
During the presentation and subsequent discussion, the following points were noted:
• the scheme was to be self-funding and would take four to five years to recover set-up costs;
• larger vehicles e.g. service vehicles had been taken into consideration when looking at the size and location of parking bays;
• restrictions on the bays within the three zones closest to the seafront were to be extended to Monday to Sunday to protect residents;
• proposed charges along Bexhill seafront were 20p for 30 minutes, 40p for one hour and £2 for over six hours,;
• there would be no seasonal variations along the seafront as the tariffs had been set low;
• the scheme would be reviewed annually, but there was no reason to believe that charges would be increased;
• payment methods at machines would be by cash, card, contactless payment or ‘RingGo’ (which would attract an admin charge);
• up to one hour free parking would be removed from Rye High Street;
• alternative machines were being considered for conservation areas, following concerns raised about their size;
• the number of residential permits for Bexhill had been increased;
• charges for car parks was the responsibility of Rother District Council. A review of car parks was due to take place;
• zig zag road markings would be included in CPE;
• anticipated income from permits issued was £50,000 per annum, £70,000 per annum in penalty charges and £600,000 per annum in pay and display charges;
• all existing double yellow lines would be enforced; and
• ESCC currently had a contract with NSL for CPE. It was anticipated that six officers would patrol parking zones across the district and this could be increased in time.
The Chairman thanked Daniel Clarke and Carl Valentine for their attendance at the meeting, and for providing Members with the results of the consultation exercise and next steps.
RESOLVED: That the presentation by East Sussex County Council be noted.
(Councillors J. Barnes, C.A. Clark, Mrs D.C. Earl-Williams, K.M. Field, A.E. Ganly and C.R. Maynard and each declared a personal interest in this matter in so far as they were elected Members of East Sussex County Council and in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct remained in the room during consideration thereof).
Members received the report of the Executive Director on the Housing Allocations Policy, which was to provide a framework for the equitable, effective and accountable allocation of social housing. Social housing was in very limited supply and accounted for only 10% of the total housing stock in Rother; this percentage was below the national average of 17%. Therefore, only those in the highest housing need, with a local connection to the area were likely to obtain social housing.
There was also a growing demand for social housing locally. The main factor contributing to this rise in demand was the inability of many households on low incomes to be able to afford other forms of housing. At the time, there were 1,600 households on the Housing Register with only 192 allocations having been awarded in 2018/19.
The draft Housing Allocations Policy at Appendix 1 to the report had been developed following an officer-led review, which was to ensure that the draft Housing Allocations Policy continued to meet its stated objectives effectively.
A factor in the Council’s ability to make changes to the Housing Allocations Policy was that it had a duty to provide ‘reasonable preference’ to certain categories of household when considering both their eligibility for the register and their priority for housing, as these were ensured under statute. Examples included the requirement to afford local connection to households fleeing domestic violence from another area and the need to provide a level of priority to households that were homeless. There were a number of other types of urgent housing needs to be considered, and it was also important to recognise the role of the Housing Allocations Policy in supporting the redistribution of family-sized social housing from older households without children within their household to younger households with children.
Members were provided with a detailed description of the main changes being proposed within the consultation at Appendix 3 to the report. The main change proposed was to revise the banding structure; the present Housing Allocations Policy consisted of four bands and the proposal was to move to a new two-band system. Households in the most urgent housing need would all be given equal priority and be placed in an ‘urgent priority’ band. All other households, assessed as eligible for the register, would be placed in a second, lower priority band known as the ‘waiting list’. The proposal was that households within the second band would be awarded points, which would be allocated according to their level of housing need.
A second significant proposed change was a revision of the order in which households were nominated for social housing. This process was important as the need to nominate households according to their level of housing need did not support the Council to meet its objective to promote socially, economically and demographically balanced communities.
It was proposed that when awarding social housing, the Council would firstly prioritise households on the Housing Register with the highest level of housing need; from the remaining list of ... view the full minutes text for item OSC19/8.
Members considered the report of the Executive Director which summarised the Council’s performance against the selected set of eight key performance indicators (KPIs) for the financial year 2018/19, giving the position at the end of the fourth financial quarter (1 January to 31 March 2019) and for the financial year 2018/19. The report gave Members an opportunity to scrutinise progress towards the Council’s stated aims, outcomes and actions in the Corporate Plan and make any necessary recommendations to Cabinet for future service delivery.
The Programme Office and Policy Manager advised that during quarter four, of the eight individual measurements, six met or exceeded their target/forecast (green) and two indicators did not meet their target/forecast (red); these were Homelessness Applications Received and Prevention of Homelessness Cases per 1,000 Rother Households. This was an improvement on quarter three.
During the discussion the following points were noted:
New Housing Benefit Claims on Time: The average number of calendar days to process a new housing benefit claim from the date the claim was received to the date the decision was taken. The 2018/19 target was 35 days, the result for the fourth quarter was 21.57 calendar days, the average for the year was 29.82 calendar days (lower was better). The figures reflected the positive effect the Council’s decision to invest in the service had had and Members wished to extend their thanks to staff and officers.
Changes to Housing Benefit Claims on Time: The average number of calendar days taken to process a submitted change to an existing housing benefit claim from the date of submission to the date of the decision. The end of year target was an average of 20 days; the target for quarter four was 17.33 days. The result for quarter four was 4.97 days, which was the best quartile performance; the result for the year was 18.66 days (lower was better).
Homelessness Applications Received: The number of applications of homelessness from Rother households that had come into the Council. The forecast for 2018/19 was 204 applications; the Council received 331. The forecast for the fourth quarter was 51 and the Council received 106 (lower was better). Rother had 62% more applications than was forecast for the year.
New Affordable Homes: The gross number of new affordable homes that had been completed in the district. The target for 2018/19 was 10 new affordable homes. This target was based on anticipated delivery at the time of setting the target. The Council had exceeded the annual target with 60 new homes built over 2018/19. The target for quarter four was three new homes; the result was nine new affordable homes.
Performance Indicators by Exception: Any performance that was doing significantly better or significantly worse than its target. There were three indicators to report:
• complaints made against licensed premises to Environmental Health, with a 127% increase compared to the previous year. This would continue to be monitored;
• graffiti when surveyed on public land and buildings, with ... view the full minutes text for item OSC19/9.
Members considered the report of the Executive Director which detailed the need for a review of a number of local third sector agreements which were due to expire in March 2020. It was proposed that a small Task and Finish Group was formed comprising of three Members to assist with the completion of this task.
1) the process and Terms of Reference for reviewing expiring Third Sector Service Level Agreements be approved; and
2) a small Task and Finish Group be established comprising of the following three Members – Councillors Mrs M.L. Barnes, K.P. Dixon and B.J. Drayson.
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director detailing the Annual Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Members were reminded that any Councillor could make a request for an item to be placed onto the Council’s Scrutiny Committee Work Programme.
The following additions to the Work Programme were noted:
• 22.7.19 – Corporate Plan Project Plan.
• 25.11.19 – Environmental Policy Proposals and Report of Service Level Agreement Task and Finish Group.
• 27.4.19 – Waste and Recycling Contract Review.
• Items for consideration – Review of Child Poverty (invite a representative from East Sussex County Council to report), Corporate Plan and Affordable Housing.
Members were advised that a presentation by 1066 Country Marketing would be given to full Council at a date to be advised.
RESOLVED: That the Work Programme at Appendix B be agreed, as amended.