Verbal updates throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, on the current situation:
· The Traveller Community
· Disabled Facilities Grant
· Housing Repairs
The Cabinet Member for Communities delivered updates on the following subjects to the Committee.
As of 6 September 2020, a further 18 cases of Covid-19 had been reported in the District; 10 more cases than the previous week. There had unfortunately been a total of 471 cases within the District and tragically 72 Covid-19 related deaths.
Residents were urged to continue to wash their hands, wear masks and remain socially distant from those outside their own households. The Government had announced that as of 14 September 2020, groups larger than 6 made up of more than 1 household were no longer permitted to meet. This reflected a change to the current guidance in respect of group sizes that were permitted to meet whilst taking the necessary precautions.
The Council were continuing to promote the safety precautions set out by the Government to residents, by its social media channels.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning delivered updates on the
following subjects to the Committee.
· The location of a Traveller site was on land owned by the Council, held within the HRA.
· The land represented a potential future development opportunity which was in very close proximity to established social housing, which included flats, houses and properties where previous tenants had exercised their Right to Buy.
· The Traveller site had been established for several months now and had involved the Council completing social assessment needs, as the traveller occupants included vulnerable adults.
· Housing assessments had also been completed and offers of accommodation had been previously made, but they had been refused by the Travellers.
· Legal preparation was now well advanced, Counsel had been instructed and the Council was seeking a court judgement to secure the removal of the Travellers.
· Continued complaints from residents were still being received. Horses which belonged to the travellers were regularly tethered and grazed on land adjacent to a children’s play area, close to the traveller site.
· Final updating of statements from officers, photographic evidence, and site plan identification relating to the submission of evidence to Counsel would be completed the week commencing 14September 2020 September. Securing of a court date would follow shortly after. Full legal costs through to court were difficult to assess at that time, it would depend on total Counsel time involved, but were likely to be in the region of £10,000.
· Plans to secure the traveller site and the land enclosing the play area were being finalised. It would involve hard barrier arrangements; costs were estimated at around £10,000.
Disabled Facilities Grant
· All contractors were now undertaking works on site with appropriate Covid-19 secure measures in place to protect them and residents, prior to attending and whilst they were on site.
· Some delays were experienced as contractors had backlogs of work due to Covid-19, additional controls meant that some jobs were taking longer to complete.
· Several jobs were still on hold, which was at the clients’ request, due to shielding or other vulnerabilities.
· External works such as ramps continued where possible during lockdown. This was alongside works which were considered essential to the health and safety of the occupant, where it could have been carried out safely. Applications continued to be processed, where it was possible, ready for surveyor visits and contractors to commence works when lockdown was lifted. This meant that 37 adaptations had now been completed since 1 April 2020.
· It was noted some properties required more than one adaptation. The adaptations completed were as follows:
o 2 heating
o 16 stairlifts
o 9 level access showers
o 11 ramps
o 1 garage conversion
o 6 other
· New occupational therapy recommendations were being advised of, as they had returned to undertaking assessments.
Housing Maintenance Service
· A full review of the day to day maintenance and improvements works services was due to be undertaken. An improvement plan, which included objectives alongside other improvement and change activity for Housing, would be presented to Cabinet in due course.
· The current service continued to emerge from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Maintenance activity had increased and more flexibility was introduced into day to day activities. Maintenance activity remained under review, as the Government reacted to increasing cases of the virus.
· Phase 2 of backlog repairs activity continued; this involved working on internal repairs for up to 4 hours in tenant properties.
· There were still significant supply chain issues impacting the service, particularly where materials were being ordered. The furlough of key staff by contractors contributed to delays.
· Plans were still being prepared to move to phase 3 repairs activity, subject to changing restrictions.
· Up to the end of July, some 2643 emergency jobs had been completed since lockdown. Some slowdown in work activity occurred in August, this was due to more operatives taking their summer holiday break.
· Current level of complaints associated with the service were still increasing, the current backlog of jobs outstanding totalled 1,916.