Agenda item

Public Open Forum

The public open forum will commence at 2.00 p.m. and the following formal business of the Council will commence at 2.30 p.m. or whenever the public open forum ends, if earlier.

Minutes:

Question 1

 

From: Phil Gadd, Grantham

To: Councillor Nick Neilson, the Cabinet Member for Housing

 

“The residents at Riverside flats used to organise meals for themselves twice per week as a social event in the community centre on site.  A small charge was made to cover the costs of the food. Afterwards, they would play cards or bingo, it was a chance for the elderly to meet, socialise and avoid loneliness.

 

However, SKDC decide a couple of years ago that if a friend or family member attended a charge of £20 for each 3 hours was incurred for the hire of the centre. So, the additional costs of £60 per week made the meals and activities too expensive.  The meals and socials no longer take place.

 

Mr Cooke said at the Rural Overview and Scrutiny Committee “The council was transforming itself by using more technology and also becoming more commercial”

 

It is good to see that the Council are becoming more commercially aware but should they not have some discrimination between voluntary and commercial organisations?”

 

In response to Mr. Gadd’s question, the Cabinet Member for Housing stated that commercial rates were only charged where the booking or hiring of a venue would generate a commercial profit for the organisation. For the purposes of providing food and meals for the residents of Riverside, and for people who did not live there, a charitable fee would be charged rather than a commercial rate (£5.15 for up to three hours or £10.30 for the day). There were other schemes across the district at which meals were organised for residents; these were charged at the charitable rate.

 

Mr. Gadd responded, stating that commercial rates had been applied to the previous meals scheme that had been run at the complex; bookings were required 3-months prior to the event with payment in advance. He referred to the Belvoir Hunt, stating that the activity of a commercial organisation was being supported by the Council. Mr Gadd suggested that the Council should review its policy. The Cabinet Member stated that it was something that the Council would look into and agreed to speak to Mr. Gadd after the meeting.

 

Question 2

 

From: Phil Gadd, Grantham

To: Councillor Nick Neilson, the Cabinet Member for Housing

 

Riverside Flats, Grantham

 

“I understand that the heating and hot water issue raised at last month’s meeting are planned for permanent repairs later this year – many thanks.

 

However, it appears that the issue could have been resolved earlier if ALL the complaints had been correctly logged. I have received a spreadsheet from SKDC and Liberty gas which shows heating and hot water issues were only logged from December 2018.

 

Many calls were made throughout the previous years, none of these were logged. If they had been it would have highlighted an ongoing problem within the site.

 

Could you please explain why residents’ complaints were unrecorded from previous years?”

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing stated that the Council should have taken action to ensure that the issues faced by residents in Riverside were avoided by assessing and renewing the whole pipe network that feeds hot water and heating to the flats.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing apologised that it had taken longer than it should have done to provide Mr. Gadd with the information he had requested and gave his assurance that the Assistant Director for Housing would look into the matter. The information that was provided contained all of the issues and complaints related to heating and hot water from Riverside but was limited to the correspondence between the Council’s Housing Repairs Team and Liberty Gas. The information did not include the issues raised by residents through the Customer Service Centre. The Cabinet Member for Housing stated that this would be added to the information that had already been supplied to show the total number of complaints and issues that were dealt with since 2016.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing concluded that the Council’s current focus was ensuring that improvements were undertaken to provide a consistent and constant source of heating and hot water for tenants. Surveyors and contractors had been on site carrying out assessments and scheduling the work that was involved in delivering this, which remained on schedule to start in April 2019.

 

As part of his response, Mr. Gadd referred to a number of complaints that he knew had been made that were not reflected in the figures that he had been provided. He asked whether there was an issue with the reporting system or whether the calls prior to 2018 would have gone directly to Liberty Gas.