Background
Background

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: The Atrium, The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven. CA28 7SJ

Contact: Rose Blaney  Tel: 07385 362773

Items
No. Item

OSC13

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Felicity Wilson, Doug Wilson, James Date, Peter Tyson, Sam Meteer, Charles Maudling and Gemma Dinsdale.

OSC14

Declarations of Interests in Agenda Items:

 

To receive declarations by Members and/ or co-optees of interests in respect of items on this Agenda.

 

Members are reminded that, in accordance with the revised Code of Conduct, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or other registrable interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests. (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting).

 

Members are advised however, in the interests of clarity and transparency, to declare at this point in the meeting, any such disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, as well as any other interests.

 

Members are reminded that they may not, by law, participate or vote in any discussion in a meeting on a matter in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest

 

Members are advised that they should leave the room during consideration of any items of business in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.

Minutes:

No Declarations of Interest were made.

 

OSC15

Minutes of the meeting held on 10 June 2021 pdf icon PDF 394 KB

Minutes:

Councillors reviewed the minutes of the previous Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) meeting.

 

Resolved – That, with a unanimous vote, the Committee agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 10 June 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record.

 

OSC16

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 460 KB

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the Executive Forward Plan.

Councillor Pollen asked if there was any update or further information regarding the Moss Bay Enterprise Trust item and noted that the Constitution was confirmed to be going to Full Council in September. The Scrutiny Officer agreed to provide more information on Moss Bay Enterprise Trust once it was available.

Resolved – That,

a)     With a unanimous vote for, the Committee agreed that the Executive Forward Plan be noted.

b)     The Scrutiny Officer will ask for an update on the Moss Bay Enterprise Trust to provide to the Committee

 

OSC17

Update from Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

Minutes:

The Chair noted that the next scheduled Cumbria Health & Scrutiny Committee meeting is on 21st July 2021.

 

OSC18

Update from the Single Table Trade Union Group (STTUG) representative

Minutes:

Councillor Pollen updated members on the topics discussed at the last STTUG meeting with highlights looking at seasonal staffing statistics, a health and safety update, a Covid update and an LGR update.

 

The Chair asked if there was any consistency into who was hired as seasonal staff. The Scrutiny Officer noted that they would follow up with the Community Services Manager as to the answer. But commented that, where possible, staff were usually retained.

 

Councillor Ghayouba asked what the percentage of workers within the Council were seasonal workers. The Scrutiny Officer confirmed that they would seek the answer to this from the Community Services Manager.

 

Councillor Pollen reminded the Committee that the Council is a living wage authority and are not supporting zero-hour contracts.

 

OSC19

Corporate Performance Report for Quarter 4 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 634 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Performance and Risk Management Officer gave an overview of the report and then invited questions from the Committee.

Councillor Pollen noted that the report showed excellent performance during such challenging times. He then went on to ask; relating to KPI 2, how many empty homes are there in total across Copeland?* Relating to KPI 3, what is the target for new homes approved for 2021/22? Relating to KPI 4, what is the target for new homes built for 2021/22? And finally, relating to KPI 7, is this all the money secured by council for Economic Development and what does the acronym MHCLG RDEL stand for? The Performance and Risk Management Officer noted that they didn’t have the answers to hand, but would provide them after the meeting to the Scrutiny Officer who would distribute them.

Councillor Pollen also asked the Scrutiny Officer for further information to be supplied regarding the current situation and the money that the Council currently have against; the Cleator Moor and Millom Towns Fund, Whitehaven Future High Street Fund, Egremont Borderlands, Egremont Towns Fund and the LOBO (Lender Option, Borrower Option) Loan secured by the council. The Scrutiny Officer replied that they would provide the committee with written answers following the meeting once they had received the information requested.

Resolved – That, with a unanimous vote for, the Committee agreed to note the performance against Key Performance Indicators.

*The question was asked again and answered later on in the meeting.

 

OSC20

Housing Complaints Guidance pdf icon PDF 347 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager, the Housing Strategy and Development Officer and the Housing Renewal Team Leader gave a presentation to inform members of the procedural Housing Complaints Guidance created, which had been requested by the Housing Task & Finish Group.

The Chair asked for clarification around the different procedures and response times social housing providers may have. He also asked about access to social housing to deal with issues. The Housing Renewal Team Leader noted that a tenant should be made aware of the reports procedure related to their property when discussing the tenancy agreement. The Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager commented that there are legal requirements around emergency responses, dependent on the situation, which is 24 hours. It is discretionary around planned works but housing standards are set out in legislation. They noted that, since Grenfell, a tenant panel may be established to provide more transparency and a better relationship between tenants and social housing providers. They also explained that the Council have worked to develop a stronger and more transparent relationship with Home Group which includes monthly meetings.

Councillor Pollen thanked the team for producing the procedural guidance and the flowchart included within, as it will be a great help to all councillors, especially when there are challenging situations. He also noted that, with social housing providers, there is a lot of good things going on that aren’t always seen.

Resolved – That, with a unanimous vote for, the procedural Housing Complaints Guidance be sent to all members.

 

OSC21

DFG Discretionary Payments Presentation pdf icon PDF 394 KB

Minutes:

The Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager gave the Committee some background information into Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) and then worked with the Housing Renewal Team Leader to give the Committee a summary of the discretionary measures piloted for the Disabled Facilities Grant which they would like to implement into policy.

Councillor Pollen thanked the team for the presentation and the great work that they do that he believed is not praised enough. He also asked for further information regarding the budget for DFGs, both discretionary and mandatory. The Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager noted that there are rarely applications that exceed £50,000 (only one or two) but those that do require special approval from the Manager. The Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager has the authority to approve grants of up to £75,000 but they inform the Chief Executive and Full Council of those that come in over £50,000. They also noted that the Council work closely with the Occupational Therapists (OTs) so that they will be aware of what grants may be coming in advance and therefore can allocate and plan accordingly regarding the budget.

Councillor Pollen then asked if those who were not able to afford improvements then lead to empty homes and offered his full support. The Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager agreed that, yes that sometimes is the case, and noted that there are around 600 long term empty homes and the total number of empty homes has dropped to around 1,000.

Councillor Everett thanked the team for the presentation and asked, in relation to private housing, what happens when regarding deceased residents and recouping the costs when the property is sold. The Housing Renewal Team Leader noted that they can recoup the costs, but they tend not to when a resident has passed away or gone into a care home. As it is not a gift, it is registered as a land charge and the team have the discretion of being able to decide if they would like to recoup the costs should the house be sold.

Councillor Everett also asked about social housing and then retaining the equipment installed, even with a healthy person moving in. The Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager commented that the there is a gap in social housing and that it’s not straight forward as to whether the Council would be able to remove and store things such as stair lifts. Mainly due to the space required to store the items and the maintenance required to keep them usable. Wheelchair adaptations are the most common where this happens. They noted that social housing providers business models tend to require properties to be in use, so they can’t keep properties empty just because of the improvements made in a property, especially those which are bespoke as it would be too hard to find a possible tenant with a similar requirement. Also, there are those who do not want a disabled/adapted bathroom when they move into a property,  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC21

OSC22

Recycling Task & Finish Group Report pdf icon PDF 550 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer presented the Recycling Task and Finish Group Report on behalf of Councillor Jeanette Forster (Chair of the Recycling Task & Finish Group) who had sent her apologies. The Scrutiny Officers highlighted the key areas of the report and talked the Committee through the recommendations in Part 7 of the report.

Councillor Ghayouba asked whether Copeland no longer supplying every household in the Borough with a recycling calendar was a loss of service. It was noted that it was rather a change in policy rather than a loss.

Thanks were given to the Chair of the Group and Scrutiny Officer for their hard work, commenting that waste and recycling is such a key service that the council hasn’t achieved its fullest potential with.

Resolved – That, with a unanimous vote for, the Committee agreed to accept the recommendations in Part 7 of the report and forward those recommendations to the Executive.

 

OSC23

Scrutiny Officer Updates pdf icon PDF 346 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer gave an overview of the Task & Finish Group Updates and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) Work Programme.

It was noted that the Recycling Task & Finish Group had completed their work, that the two Health and Wellbeing Task & Finish Groups had redrafted their scopes believing that they were initially too broad to create a meaningful impact and that the Budget Monitoring Working Group had met but that it would be undergoing a change to the scope and would therefore not be providing a report at the August Committee meeting.

It was unanimously agreed by the Committee that the updates from the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee and the Single Table Trade Union Group (STTUG) representative, would be removed from the standing items list. Any updates would be presented to the group at the informal OSC meetings. Housing would also be removed from the standing items list. This would leave the Executive Forward Plan and the Scrutiny Officer Updates as the only two items to be on the standing items list, with the latter only being present on the agenda when there was an update to give.

It was noted that the Scrutiny Training will be scheduled to take place before the next meeting and a possible date and time will be circulated following the meeting. Following the training, an in-depth look at the work programme will take place to review and it and redesign it.

 

OSC24

Date and Time of Next Meeting:

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be held on Thursday 5th August 2021 at 2:00pm in The Atrium, The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven.

Minutes:

The Chair informed members that the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be held on Thursday 5th August 2021 at 2pm in the Copeland Centre.

 

 

Original text