Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
The Council welcomes engagement from members of the public. To speak at this meeting please register no later than 24 hours prior to the date of the meeting via firstname.lastname@example.org
There were none.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were recieved from Councillor Richard Cleaver and Councillor Robert Reid.
Councillor Harrish Bisnauthsing substituted for Councillor Richard Cleaver.
Disclosure of Interest
Members are asked to disclose any interest in matters for consideration at the meeting.
There were none.
Minutes from the meeting held on 9 February 2023 PDF 193 KB
The minutes of the meeting held on 9 February 2023 were proposed, seconded, and AGREED as a correct record.
Minutes from the Joint Meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 6 February 2023 PDF 105 KB
The meeting from the Joint meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee were proposed, seconded, and AGREED as a correct record.
Updates from the previous meeting PDF 34 KB
To receive updates on actions agreed at the previous meeting.
The Acting Director of Housing provided responses to the following actions:
Action: For the Acting Director of Housing to provide budgetary figures around Change4Lincs.
Status: £32,318 spend on TA in Jan, £27,979 Spend on TA.
Tighter referral criteria have been implemented meaning that only exceptional cases are accommodated in temporary accommodation. Focus now is on supporting those at risk of rough sleeping with the aim of preventing them from being on the streets.
Action: For the Acting Director of Housing to provide figures around individuals who received repeat presentations/multiple referrals to Change4Lincs.
Outcome: During Jan 2023 – Feb 2023 C4L had 12 different referrals for ‘unknown’. Which was for 3 separate males, all known to the service. But all new to the service and not repeat presentations.
Action: For the Head of Housing Services to provide the Committee with statistics around the age, gender, and ethnicity of rough sleepers.
Status: Jan 2023 and Feb 2023 – 10 rough sleepers were located and verified.
Outcome: 9 Male, 1 Female, 9 White British, 1 Unknown ethnicity, Age range 35-59, the 1 Female was with one of the Males.
Action: For the Head of Housing Services to provide the Committee with a figure on the number of rough sleepers that were veterans in the District
Status: 1 (South Holland)
One Member noted that individuals in Stamford had accommodation, however, had been seen begging.
The Inspector from Lincolnshire Police confirmed that begging was a legal offence and the individuals seen begging were in fact not homeless. The particular area in Stamford had been focused on and the force would act appropriately if the begging continued.
It was queried as to whether the individuals seen begging in Stamford were from within the District or further afield.
It was highlighted that some individuals travelled into Stamford to beg and did not originate from the local area.
Members requested contact details of local Police Officers of how begging could be reported.
Announcements or updates from the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members or the Head of Paid Service
The Leader of the Council provided a written update to the Committee:
Award nomination for SKDC
I am sure you have heard that South Kesteven District Council is in the running for a prestigious national award, having been shortlisted in the Most Improved Council category in the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2023.
These awards share best practice across the local government community, promoting and sharing work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local government services across the UK.
Simply being shortlisted for an award is recognition of the hard work and dedication, on a daily basis, of all the Offices striving to provide the best possible service to our residents and businesses, and we should all take pride in it.
Deepings Literary Festival
You may or may not be aware that this year’s Deepings Literary Festival, on May 27th and 28th, is being supported by South Kesteven District Council with a £2,179 Community Fund grant.
This donation will help facilitate a book-themed weekend of activities specifically for young families, involving local children's authors and performers.
Preparations are well under way for this year’s festival, where free activities will add to the high-quality educational opportunities already scheduled.
As usual, events will take place at the Deepings Library and Community Centre and other venues.
This is one of the first awards from our Community Fund for 2023/24 and we are looking forward to supporting many more throughout year.
If you would like to see if any groups you are involved with can apply, simply visit the South Kesteven District Council website and search for Community Fund.
I was so pleased to see the statistics which point to the sector recovering well after COVID. In 2021 tourism contributed £168m to the SK economy, recovering from the £90m economic contribution during the pandemic lockdown and restrictions.
We are waiting for the 2022 figures, but it does very much show that the sector is bouncing back.
UK Shared Prosperity Fund
You will know of course Council has £1 million available for community projects across the District through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
As you know the applications can now be made by town and parish councils, parish meetings, charter trustees and community groups to finance projects that deliver community improvements and build pride in place.
Please encourage any community groups to submit a bid if their project falls within one of the project categories: building improvements; green space and outdoor improvements; culture, arts and heritage and heritage initiatives and of course meets the project criteria.
Digital upgrade for CCTV
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is also helping to make our District a safer and more secure place. A £284,000 project will see ageing CCTV technology upgraded, with a digital line installed and existing analogue cameras replaced with digital equipment.
We will have much clearer imaging and better picture and video sharing capabilities, far superior to analogue, and the new functionality could also allow us to deploy mobile CCTV in the future so ... view the full minutes text for item 62.
Crime Disorder and Local Partnership working update
To provide a joint presentation with Lincolnshire Police to the Committee.
A joint presentation was provided to the Committee by the Acting Director of Housing, Assistant Director, Operations and Public Protection and Inspector Mark Hillson from Lincolnshire Police. The presentation outlined the following points and figures in relation to the crime and disorder partnership response:
· Partnership working journey
· Key Officers involved
· Overview of Tools and Powers that the partnership use
· Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
· The ASB Case Review/Community Trigger
· Partnership Working in Practice (ECINS)
· Neighbourhoods and CCTV Headlines
· Housing headlines
· Police framework – partnership plan
· Policy headlines (Grantham and Stamford – All crimes from April 2020-February 2023)
· Policy headlines (Grantham and Stamford – Burglary Residential from April 2020-February 2023)
· Policy headlines (Grantham and Stamford – Vehicle Offences from April 2020-February 2023)
· Policy headlines (Grantham and Stamford – Anti Social Behaviour from April 2020-February 2023)
One Member raised problems with dog walkers leaving dog fouling and how this could be reported.
Dog fouling could be reported online through the Council’s website, by contacting customer services. The Council’s usual response would be Officers patrolling the area, signage being erected where needed and Officers would engage with dog walkers and ensure they have the appropriate bag to pick up dog fouling.
Calls to Lincolnshire Police were handled at the headquarters in Lincoln.
The Inspector from Lincolnshire Police clarified that calls were ranked due to their urgency and risk assessed. Local trends and information assist the Police in identifying the appropriate next steps.
It was queried as to whether the Police within the area had more reactive attendance or proactive attendance.
The Inspector of Lincolnshire Police noted that his department were proactive due to the increase of staff. During the Covid lockdown, crime figures increased because Police were more proactive as demand changed as few people were out of their homes.
The Chairman informed the Committee that a virtual meeting had been held between Lincolnshire Police and Parish Councils.
It was confirmed that a quick questionnaire was provided to every Parish within South Kesteven that are delivered prior to the quarterly priority-setting meetings taking place with the Police. This allowed every Parish Council to feedback their concerns and is discussed at the priority-setting meetings.
One Member noted that the sexual offences and rape cases equated to nearly 2 offences every week in 2022. It was queried as to whether the offences were domestic abuse or in public spaces.
The Inspector of Lincolnshire Police confirmed that 90-95% of the recorded rape offences were in a domestic environment and included incidents which had been historically recorded.
The proactive suggestion was raised on the possibility of communication taking place with Parish and Ward Councillor’s to put out an information campaign to provide knowledge to residents on the partnership working.
A query was raised on whether the Council had any powers on Council tenants that had committed an offence in the property and whether it may result in eviction.
The Acting Director of Housing confirmed that tenancy agreements enabled the Council to challenge behaviors from ... view the full minutes text for item 63.
Development of a Communities Strategy PDF 197 KB
The purpose of this report is for Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee to consider and comment on the development of a new Communities Strategy exploring opportunities for engagement and development with the voluntary and community sector of South Kesteven.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities presented the report that sought the views from the Committee in relation to the proposed development of a community strategy for South Kesteven.
The report outlined key themes and objectives proposed for inclusion in the strategy and discussed the need for inclusive consultation in the development of the document and its action plan.
The development of a community strategy is a direct response to recommendations made as a result of the Local Government Association peer challenge, which took place in November 2021.
The proposed strategy would cover both community engagement and community development. Effective engagement allows inclusive community development and will reflect the Council’s commitment to all communities and an action plan would be developed following an inclusive consultation period in support of the strategy.
Concern was raised on the possibility of having political links to the strategy.
The Committee were assured that there would be no political links and the Council would only work with voluntary and community organisations to strengthen the working relationship.
One Member suggested that affordable housing and general social housing for communities be included within the strategy.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities confirmed that the particular strategy document would focus on the voluntary organisations and community groups in the area. The concerns around affordable housing and general social housing for communities would be included within the Local Plan.
It was noted that affordable housing and general social housing for communities would be better suited for Planning Committee/Assistant Director of Planning.
It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED that the Committee:
1. Considers the key themes and objectives suggested for inclusion in a Communities Strategy and suggests enhancements to the extent and clarity of information for consideration and inclusion.
2. Endorses the commencement of a consultation exercise and the subsequent development of a Communities Strategy for the District.
Cost of Living update PDF 184 KB
The purpose of this report is to provide an update regarding the actions taken by the Cost of Living Strategic Working Group and the outcome of the Wellbeing Fair which was held on 25 February 2023.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities presented the report that outlined the work undertaken by the cost of living strategic working group.
At the previous meeting, the Committee had recognised the Council’s immediate and future responses requirement to be focused and have clear steps that could be taken further to support businesses and residents within the district.
The work undertaken had involved Officers cross cutting from various service areas of the Council, including communications, community engagement, economic development, finance, housing, HR, revenues and benefits and customer services. Officers had ensured that steps set out in the action plan for both the Council and partners were undertaken to support those most impacted by the cost of living.
The working group had agreed the key themes for developing and implementing support for businesses and residents, positive relationships with support from organisations, particular Members of the external task force and those who supported the wellbeing fair on 25 February 2023, hosted 2 external task force meeting with support organisations. The full list of actions completed by the group were detailed within Appendix 1.
The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Customer Services urged Parish and District Councillors to contact the team if they had any residents with concerns or required any information. A dedicated cost of living email address was provided: email@example.com
One Member queried as to how business and resident outreach would be provided to rural areas of the district. It was further queried as to whether the Council were communicating with Parish Council’s on the cost of living.
It was questioned as to whether any businesses and residents from around the district attended the wellbeing fair, or whether it was merely people from Grantham.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities confirmed that this wellbeing fair was predominantly for Grantham residents, however, it had been promoted across the district via social media and on the Council’s website. Parish Council’s had been contracted regarding the dedicated cost of living email address and leaflets to hand out to residents, however, there were not many responses received.
It was noted that rural areas of the district were difficult to reach out to and the Council were exploring ways of integrating the wellbeing fair with other organisations.
One Member queried as to why mortgage providers, bankers or building societies were not invited to the wellbeing fair, due to mortgages being the biggest affect of cost of living.
Mortgage providers, bankers or building societies were not invited to the wellbeing fair, however, Citizens Advice Bureau were in attendance to provide debt advice as well as other organisations.
Members commended the work undertaken by the strategic working group and the cost of living leaflets which had been delivered in a hard copy format to maximise the distribution as far as possible.
One Member suggested more proactive communications of another wellbeing fair taking place across the district and also to encourage Councillors to publicise the event.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities confirmed that ... view the full minutes text for item 65.
The purpose of this report is two-fold, to (a) consider proposed changes to the funding criteria of the SK Community Fund and (b) provide a recommendation to the Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities to approve the changes, to allow the Fund to re-open to applications in April 2023.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities presented the report that outlined proposed amendments to the SK Community Fund.
It was important that the application process, including the assessment and funding criteria were regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain fit for purpose. A recent review identified proposed changes to the funding criteria, which were to be considered by the Committee.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities informed the Committee of all proposed amendments to the criteria.
It was queried as to whether a community building included a church within the funding criteria.
The Community Engagement Manager clarified that the SK Community Fund criteria currently did not allow for changes to the fabric or fittings of a church building. Projects that take place within a church location that involved the wider community would be covered under the current eligibility of the fund.
One Member queried as to whether the Community Fund would apply to small groups like twinning associations.
The Community Engagement Manager stated that under the current criteria, any constituted community group that had a dedicated bank account with two unrelated signatories would be eligible to apply for the grant.
A query was raised on whether the criteria included tangible assets.
The Community Engagement Manager suggested that general queries in relation to the Community Fund be asked after the meeting, in order to concentrate on the proposed changes outlined in the report.
Clarification was sought on the monetary figures around the maximum grant amount that could be applied for village halls.
Changes to a village hall building no longer fell under the remit of the grant, however, an event within the village hall would still fit within the SK Community Fund criteria.
It was clarified that the budgetary figures around the community projects and events categories were to a maximum of £5000, the Fund would support up to 80% of projects to a maximum of £5000. The remaining 20% would need to be found by the applicant. The maximum the Council would pay on a small grant would be £2000 and applicants could request 100% of the funding, which only organisations that had financial resources of £10,000 and below would be eligible for.
The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities recommended all Members to read through Appendix A thoroughly and to always have a copy available to provide the application criteria, application process and the conditions of funding to provide to organisations.
It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED that the Committee:
1. Suggest any enhancements to the changes proposed to the criteria of the SK Community Fund.
2. Recommends the Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities approves the agreed changes to the criteria of the SK Community Fund via a non-key decision.
Regulatory Compliance PDF 171 KB
The Acting Director of Housing presented the report.
The Committee were aware that the Chief Executive determined, in consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, to self-refer the Council to the Regulator of Social Housing. Since this referral Officers have been providing further data and details relating to the core issues of non-compliance for the Regulator to consider and review.
The Committee had now received eleven update reports since March 2021 that have confirmed the Regulatory Notice served on the Council and provided an outline of the work that officers would continue to ensure we logically and methodically progress through a programme of improvement.
Updating Tenants and Members:
Following on from previous briefings, further All Member Briefings will be arranged to ensure Members are fully informed on progress and continued challenges.
As reported to the Committee’s meeting in June 2022, a full tenant consultation exercise has been undertaken – “The Big Listen”. This involved several questions on both the current experience of tenants in terms of the services the Council offers as a landlord, and what they would like to see prioritised in the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan, which will require a complete review in 2022/23. The questions were based on the Regulator of Social Housing’s proposed Tenant Satisfaction Measures and the initial report was provided to Committee in the meeting on 23 June 2022.
We commit to an ongoing programme of regular costed building condition surveys to inform a proactive, planned maintenance programme and reduce the need for more expensive reactive repairs.
A key activity to support the HRA Business Plan is up-to-date information on the Council’s housing stock. As noted in previous reports, the last full Stock Condition Survey was completed in 2009; good practice suggests comprehensive Stock Condition survey should be completed every 5 years, usually by undertaking a survey of 20% of the stock each year.
The Council continues to utilise its Rant and Rave feedback, seeking real time feedback from tenants following responsive repairs. We continue to see overall satisfaction of 4.5 out of 5, demonstrating sustained high satisfaction at the point where repairs are undertaken.
Regular Meetings with the Regulator:
Monthly meetings between the Chief Executive, Acting Director of Housing and the Regulator’s Officers take place as scheduled; the next meeting at time of writing is due on 17th March 2023. Progress has been significant right across the landlord health and safety compliance function (latest monthly figures attached as Appendix One to this report) and the relationship with the Regulator is positive, with the Regulator acknowledging that the Council is moving to a position to seek removal of the Notice that was formally served in February 2021.
That removal is contingent on three issues:
(a) Sustained maintenance of performance in relation to the key landlord health and safety areas (i.e. those shown on Appendix One)
(b) Clear programmes of work related to the actions that arise from those areas (these are provided to the Regulator on a monthly basis) ... view the full minutes text for item 67.
Work Programme 2022 - 2023 PDF 198 KB
To receive the Work Programme for 2022 – 2023.
The Committee noted the Work Programme 2022-2023.
Members requested that community cohesion and refugees be added onto the Work Programme.
The Acting Director of Housing noted that updates on the ‘Homes for Ukraine scheme’ would continue.
It was confirmed that further updates would be provided to the Committee in regard to the delivery of the Local Authority Housing Fund alongside Regulatory Compliance.
Clarification was sought on DASH landlord accreditation scheme and how this fit into the Committee’s remit.
The Assistant Director for Operations and Public Protection clarified that DASH related to the accreditation scheme for private sector rented properties. The scheme was voluntary, whereby private rented landlords can join to become accredited which would provide reassurance to their tenants.
It was noted that the Council could take enforcement action where landlords were not maintaining private sector rented properties.
Any other business which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, decides is urgent
The Chairman thanked all Officers and Members.
Close of meeting
The Chairman closed the meeting at 16:15.