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Contact: Email: Democracy@southkesteven.gov.uk
Comments from Members of the Public
To receive comments or views from members of the public at the Committee’s discretion
Mr Phil Gadd addressed the Committee ahead of item 11. Key points were noted as:
· Mr Gadd had been involved in highlighting the heating and hot water system in Riverside since 2016
· It had been difficult to receive responses and he felt the council were not listening to the complaints raised
· The residents of Riverside had spent several years experiencing intermittent supply of hot water and heating. Temporary heating or hot water should be a short-term fix only
· Mr Gadd had had to continue to raise and revisit the issue with the Council, involving councillors, the MP and press as well as Mr Gadd attending Council meetings
· Many of the issues he had raised at full council are now reported for action
· The system installed in 2016 was already relatively obsolete and at end of life with spares and replacement parts being hard to find and expensive
· The issue started with the removal of storage tanks and replacing them with Heat Distribution System (HDU) system in 2016
Mr Gadd concluded that he hoped that SKDC took full notice of the report undertaken by the independent consultant and to comply with its findings. He hoped for a more open, honest and proactive response to issues raised by residents.
The Chairman requested that should a response to Mr Gadd’s comments not be covered in item 11, for him to contact the Chairman and he will ensure a reply is provided.
Register of attendance, membership and apologies for absence
A register of attendance was taken, confirming all committee members were present.
Disclosures of Interest
Members are asked to disclose any interest in matters for consideration at the meeting
No interests were disclosed.
The Action Notes from the meeting held on 10 September 2020, were agreed to be a true record.
No comments were received, and all actions were noted as complete.
Verbal Update from Cabinet Members
Verbal updates throughout Covid-19 pandemic, on the current situation:
· Update on Covid-19
· Feedback from anti-racism motion to Council
· Community Fund
· Community Policing
· Homelessness Partnership with other Districts
· Cold weather payments for homeless people
· Local Plan
· External Planning Review
· Disabled Facilities Grants Quarter 2
· Housing Repairs Update
· Garden Maintenance Scheme
Due to the Cabinet Member for Communities being unable to present the report the Community Engagement and Policy Development Officer delivered a verbal update on her behalf to Committee members.
· National deaths caused by Covid-19 had been updated to 50,000
· There had been a reported rise of 68 cases in South Kesteven on the previous week with a total of 78 Covid-related deaths
· Work was continuing with the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum during the second lockdown
· Letters from Government have been sent to the clinically extremely vulnerable including parents and carers with advice to stay at home. Qualifying residents have been encouraged to register with the NHS national shielding service
· The community hub was still active. Food box service was not available. It was possible if required, for The Hub to be placed on full capacity.
· A new walk-in testing station was being placed in Grantham to supplement the popup facility. Pre booking was required
The Chairman recorded his wishes to the Cabinet Member for Communities for a speedy recovery and requested a report be presented at the next meeting.
A member requested testing stations for the south of the district. A temporary station was already available with no plans for any additional facilities within the district. Facilities were determined by greatest risk.
Feedback from anti-racism motion to Council
· The Council had passed the anti-racism motion on 1 October 2020. An action plan was now being worked on to be presented at the next meeting of this committee.
· The report was presented to Cabinet on 13 October 2020 including the committee’s observations. The proposed removal of parishes and towns from the criteria was not agreed by Cabinet who extended their appreciation of the committee’s input. Applications to the Community Fund were available up to 4 December 2020.
The Committee received updates from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning on the following items:
Homelessness Partnership with other Districts
· The Rough Sleep Initiative Change for Lincs reported that 13 staff were working with individuals needing emergency accommodation
· 3 people had been identified for emergency support
· £145,000 of funds had been provided for development and refurbishment of 4 privately acquired properties; £40,000 for an intensive support worker and an additional £14,000 for short-term bed and breakfast
Cold weather payments for homeless people
· Cold weather support for the homeless was available from central government towards bed and breakfast and energy costs.
· The submission was issued on 28 October 2020. Consultation findings were awaited.
External Planning Review
· Findings of the planning review were reported to be with Cratus having been presented to members and officers. The review was to be considered by the Governance and Audit Committee on 19 November 2020 and would return to this committee in six months.
Disabled Facilities Grants Quarter 2
· Home works and occupational therapy have continued despite Covid-19 with £410,000 spent to date out of the total budget of £800,000.
Housing Repairs Update
· Housing repairs had been impacted by Covid-19. Urgent and emergency repairs ... view the full minutes text for item 76.
Mental Health Challenge Workshop
To agree a workshop date and request volunteers from the Committee Membership
Due to recognition of increased mental health concerns by the pandemic, it was proposed to hold a joint workshop on 10 December 2020 with the Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Members were asked to delegate authority to the workshop to make representation to Cabinet rather than to return to these committees. Members were invited to attend the workshop; there was no limit on numbers.
On being put to the committee the following Members volunteered to attend:
Councillor Michael Exton
Councillor Sarah Trotter
Councillor Amanda Wheeler
Councillor Linda Wootten Councillor Ray Wootten
Councillors Ashley Baxter and Jacky Smith, who were not members of either Committee also wished to volunteer for the workshop.
Following a procedural point by a guest Councillor, it was noted that a remit should be provided at the start of the workshop.
Councillor volunteers for the Mental Health Challenge workshop to be noted, and the list of names provided to the event organisers.
Health and Safety compliance report on SKDC’s Housing Service
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning introduced the report on behalf of the Leader of the Council who was experiencing technical issues. Additional presenters were the Chief Executive and Interim Assistant Director of Housing.
In his introduction, the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning outlined the background and impact to residents and the public. The Cabinet Member had been working since his appointment, prior to receipt of the report, to improve record keeping on council stock.
The Chief Executive recorded her sincere apologies on behalf of the Council to all tenants. She informed the Committee that the report with the conclusions of the housing compliance audit had been commissioned by herself, the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Housing in June 2020.
In June 2020 RSM were appointed as auditors to undertake a compliance review, they undertook a desktop review with key findings attached to the report. The conclusions of the report led to the appointment of an Interim Assistant Director of Housing. The Chief Executive in consultation with the Cabinet referred SKDC to the Housing Regulator.
Systems were assessed to be not fit for purpose that led to an action plan being incorporated along with an improvement plan that had been shared with the Regulator. A compliance response was awaited from the Social Housing Regulator.
Members were assured by the Chief Executive that the right team with the right skill set was now in place. A new head of technical services had been appointed to ensure compliance on electrical works.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning added that a risk analysis was in place to ensure compliance during work on a revised programme for housing stock, particularly sheltered housing.
A meeting to go through processes with the Regulator had been held with follow-up correspondence from the Chief Executive to update on critical issues around compliance and progress on the improvement plan.
An action plan was presented to the committee with the primary focus on sheltered housing as well as up-to-date fire risk assessment and inspection. It was additionally reported that:
· Certification to be reissued on 3,500 properties
· A rewiring contract to be commissioned to include certification
· Gas compliance stood at 98% with a strategy in place
· New IT was to be installed by January 2021 to improve monitoring
All Members would be provided a copy of the action as provided to the Regulator with regular reports back to the committee.
Members raised a number of questions and received the following responses:
· An officer group had been set to manage and drive forward changes that included the new IT system and deployment of staff. There would be elements of external procurement.
· Updates to the improvement plan would be provided to the Committee.
· A housing dashboard was being investigated which would provide regular reports with an audit plan that provided further checks on delivery.
· The Director of Housing and Property was anticipated to be in place by April 2021. Appreciation was expressed at the skills provided ... view the full minutes text for item 78.
Presentation of Key Performance Indicators and targets to align with the new Corporate Plan, and noting of the timetable for KPI reviews
A presentation of Key Performance Indicators and targets to align with the new Corporate Plan was introduced by the Leader of the Council who explained that the Corporate Plan had been approved by Council on 1 October 2020. This was now being presented to scrutiny for review.
The report was then presented to the committee by the Assistant Chief Executive who set out the targets of the committee, advising that a revised draft would then be circulated should there be any changes. This committee was the first scrutiny committee to consider the KPIs, the other Scrutiny Committees would consider their relevant KPIs at future meetings of those committees.
On being put to the vote it was AGREED to recommend:
1. To approve the proposed key performance indicators and targets associated with the actions in the South Kesteven Corporate Plan 2020-23.
2. To note that key performance indicators and success criteria for each action will be reviewed and if necessary revised as part of the annual review process.
To consider the independent report into issues around repairs to the heating system at Riverside Flats in Grantham
The Chairman advised that due to the Appendix for this item being exempt should this be referenced then the meeting would go to closed session. Julie Picken, an independent consultant was welcomed by the Chairman to the meeting.
A statement was read to all present by the Chairman as a ward member:
I was horrified to read in the local Grantham Journal a headline: “Lied to and let down” as my colleague, Councillor Smith and I had both responded immediately to every call we had had of lack of water or heating from the Riverside complex.
The whole sorry saga has been a catalogue of errors and like the residents we too have been let down as we escalated the complaints to the housing department in blind faith that positive steps had been taken.
I believe many residents had reported their complaints to Customer Services and then contacted councillors in desperation and frustration when things did not improve.
Let me make it clear, the residents and the community are my priority and this must never, ever, happen again as it is a total disgrace to the residents and some elderly and vulnerable people in such distress.
Hopefully lessons have been learned.
However I fully understand the distress all this has caused and I was pleased to hear from a couple of residents last year that they were happy with the repairs that had taken place and to quote one gentleman he said to me he was “as warm as toast” which was good news.
We also have a new Chief Executive who, along with the Leader, is totally committed to putting in place the proper management within a housing portfolio; supported by Councillor Robert Reid the Cabinet Member for Housing.
I look forward to having a single point of contact for residents and further updates at meetings.
The Chairman invited ward Councillor Jacky Smith to make a statement however she was not able to due to technical difficulties.
The Leader of the Council reported that he had visited Riverside with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning and would continue to do so on a regular basis. The commissioned report had identified failures for which he unreservedly apologised on behalf of the District Council to the residents for the inconvenience and trauma. The Chief Executive added her sincere apologies and expressed disappointment that the Health and Safety Executive report had not yet been received to also present at this meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning reported that he had not been satisfied with the heating system being provided to tenants. There was a 5-year life span remaining for the boilers which he would be looking to replace with allocated budget already in place.
A report was presented by the independent consultant, Julie Picken, in the form of slides which were circulated with the agenda. The consultant was appointed on 20 January 2020 to conduct an independent inquiry.
A further presentation by the Cabinet Member for Housing ... view the full minutes text for item 80.
To note items on the 2020/21 Work Programme and Cabinet forward Plan
The work programme was noted.
Any other business which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, decides is urgent
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To exclude the press and public from the meeting during the discussion of the following items of business due to the likelihood that information that is exempt under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) because it contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)
Riverside Flats Exempt Appendix