Agenda and minutes

Communities Policy Development Group - Thursday, 10th March, 2016 2.30 pm

Venue: Witham Room - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Jo Toomey 

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    An apology for absence was received from Councillor Woolley. Councillor Adams, the Leader of the council and Executive Member, Growth also apologised that he was unable to attend the meeting.


Disclosure of interests

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    Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.


    No interests were disclosed.


Notes from the meeting held on 14 January 2016 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

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    The notes from the meeting held on 14 January 2016 were noted.


Updates from previous meetings pdf icon PDF 689 KB

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    ·         Proposed closure of Grantham Magistrates’ Court

    ·         Air Quality Action Plan

    Additional documents:


    Members of the PDG noted the outcome of the consultation exercise on the proposed closure of Magistrates’ Courts, which was circulated with the agenda.


    The Strategic Director, Community & Environment Focus gave a brief update explaining work undertaken since the last meeting on the Air Quality Management Action Plan. She explained that the action plan was currently the subject of public consultation, which closed on 21 March 2016. At the time of the meeting 20 public responses had been received, which recognised a distinction in the perception of air quality between Grantham town centre and the wider district. The consultation to date indicated broad support for the proposals with those related to the flow of traffic identified as likely to have the most impact. Comments from DEFRA were still awaited. Any members wishing to put forward their views were able to contribute via the public consultation. Feedback from the consultation exercise would be considered by Cabinet at its meeting on Monday 4 April 2016.


Review of Communal Facilities in Sheltered Housing Schemes pdf icon PDF 164 KB

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    Report number BMH105 of the Business Manager, Housing.     (Enclosure)


    The Business Manager, Housing presented report number BMH105 on the development of a Communal Rooms Policy and a Guest Room Policy for sheltered housing. The draft policies were attached as appendices to the report. The aim of the draft Communal Rooms policy was to regulate the use of community rooms by outside agencies, ensure consistency and transparency across schemes in terms of usage and hire charges. Residents in sheltered housing schemes paid a community room charge alongside their rents.


    During January and February 2016, members were advised a consultation exercise was carried out at the sheltered housing schemes, with a turnout of approximately 31%. The issues that arose through the consultation exercise were summarised in the report and included support for charging outside groups, attracting new groups and activities, advertising activities to residents (but not advertising widely outside of schemes), parking constraints and the finishing times for events.


    The report proposed that the new policy should also cover the use of income generated from charging external hirers of the facility. The proposal detailed in the report suggested that 40% of the income should be retained by the council to cover administration and servicing costs while the remaining 60% would be credited to a new ‘Residents’ Initiatives Fund’. The principle behind the fund was promoting social, health and wellbeing initiatives for residents across schemes with applications for funding from individual schemes being considered by a panel of sheltered residents. One member expressed concerns that using income to create a fund into which schemes could bid might lead to those less active schemes receiving the benefit of the income raised by proactive schemes and that this might prove to be a disincentive to schemes organising their own activities. Members were advised that the 40% of the charge retained by the Council covered cleaning and wear and tear, which, under existing arrangements, were funded through the HRA.


    Brief discussion ensued on the process for booking community rooms. Some members spoke of their experiences visiting community rooms within their wards. A question was also asked about expectations of hirers with regard to insurance.


    Members also spoke briefly on the increased charges for guest rooms in sheltered housing schemes. While all members accepted it was fair to recoup costs one member expressed concern about the impact of the increased charge on residents in sheltered schemes who paid the cost of accommodation for visiting family members.


    As it was proposed that the policy was introduced and reviewed after a year, a request was made that at the end of that time feedback should be provided for the PDG to consider whether the policies should be remain on a permanent basis.


    A majority of members supported the proposals within the report and endorsed their adoption by the Executive, with one member refraining from voting because of the increased charges.


Allocations Policy pdf icon PDF 94 KB

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    Report number BMH107 of the Business Manager, Housing.     (Enclosure)


    At previous meetings of the PDG members had considered a wide range of principles for inclusion within the draft Housing Allocations Policy. The Business Manager, Housing presented report number BMH107 which summarised the new items covered in the draft policy and those criteria that had been changed. Members’ attention was also brought to a proposal within the White Paper on EU reform which sets the requirement for qualifying for a local connection as a mandatory period of four-years.


    Areas covered in the draft policy included:


    ·         Increased priority for social tenants under-occupying social housing

    ·         Robust criteria relating to refused and reduced access

    ·         Taking account of applicants’ assets and income levels

    ·         Provision for a right to move

    ·         Provision for witness protection and harassment/threat of violence

    ·         Management priority and direct offers to help meet multiple/complex needs


    During discussion some concerns were raised about the age to which young people would be expected to share bedrooms. Officers explained that the proposed age of 21 was in line with statutory overcrowding legislation.


    A copy of the draft policy was circulated to members of the PDG, who were given a week to make any high level comments about the process or ask questions. Members would be able to put forward their individual comments on the draft policy as part of the consultation process. The consultation period was expected to run between April and June 2016. Key stakeholders that would be part of the consultation exercise included: registered providers with stock in the district, other district councils in Lincolnshire, the South Kesteven Homeless Forum, the Tenant’s Panel and the Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service. A copy of the draft policy would also be published on the Council’s website and two briefing sessions would be scheduled for Councillors.


Work programme

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    Members of the PDG were informed that, with the exception of ongoing work on the wider car parking strategy, it had completed all tasks within its work programme for 2015/16. Preparation of the work programme for 2016/17 was underway and would complement the new corporate plan, which was being developed.


    Members asked how work programmes were produced. The Strategic Director, Community & Environment Focus explained that the work programme was based on a combination of tasks that were designed to meet objectives within the corporate plan, emerging legislation and new areas that would help the council deliver against its priority ambitions. Any members of the PDG who wanted to propose items for consideration were advised to feed them to any member of the strategic management team or the Leader of the Council. Suggestions would need to contribute towards the Council priorities and would need to be considered as part of a prioritisation exercise.


Close of meeting

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    The meeting was closed at 15:19.