Agenda and minutes

The Economy, Housing and the Arts Policy and Accountability Committee - Tuesday, 5th July, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Courtyard Room - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  Tel: 020 8753 2088

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Councillor Lucy Ivimy had sent her apologies for lateness.


Councillor Sue Fennimore, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, had sent her apologies for not being at the meeting owing to other commitments.


Declarations of Interest

* See note below.



There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 160 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 7 June were agreed to be accurate.



Additional documents:


Mike Clarke, Director of Libraries and Archives, explained that the council was determined to maintain its Library service, and keep all libraries open. The council was looking for ways to ensure that the service remained sustainable and to broaden the appeal of libraries. To make libraries more financially sustainable further commercial opportunities were being sought, as well as partnerships with businesses and other organisations. Mr Clarke explained that the council’s libraries had attracted more visitors and borrowers over the past year, but that the council wanted to encourage even more people to use libraries. He noted that less than half of visitors to libraries now borrowed a book, and that e-books and other digital resources had become popular.


Councillor Harcourt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Residents Services, said that he knew discussions about libraries could become emotive; he explained that the council would not be closing any libraries, or reducing their opening hours. He said that the administration’s manifesto had included a commitment to modernise and widen the appeal of the borough’s libraries and that this meeting was the first stage in doing that. Councillor Harcourt stressed that he and officers really wanted to hear residents views on what could and should be done to make libraries better and more sustainable and noted that whilst officers had included some of their ideas in the report to get the discussion going, these were only ideas and not the council’s policy.


The Chair asked why the council was having to look at ideas to bring in more revenue. Councillor Harcourt explained that the council was facing a £70 million reduction in its funding from central government and in its efforts to mitigate the impact of these funding cuts the administration was trying to bring in more money in different ways.


A resident asked whether using volunteers might reduce the quality of service as they would not, she presumed, be qualified librarians. Mike Clarke explained that over 100 volunteers were already used in libraries and that they were not there to replace qualified librarians, rather they were used to help with specific tasks or projects and they were given appropriate training for their roles.


Gwen Cook, a local resident, explained that she was concerned that about the use of too many volunteers, saying that it was important to have sufficient qualified librarians to ensure that the service operated correctly. A resident explained that they volunteered with the archives service and felt that those volunteers she had met were providing a good service and doing something they enjoyed. She raised concerns however about school pupils using libraries inappropriately around exam times.


A resident, who had formerly been a member of staff at Westminster Reference Library, explained that they had previously coordinated volunteers for the library and that the quality of person who volunteered was usually very high; adequate training and support for volunteers was however essential to get the most out of volunteers. Francis Serjeant, Reference Librarian, explained that his experience of volunteers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.



Additional documents:


Councillor Daryl Brown left the meeting prior to the consideration of this item.

Councillor Homan explained that when she had become Cabinet Member for Housing in 2014 she had attended a borough housing forum and the meeting had been dominated by people concerned about their housing partly because of the previous administration's approach to social housing and partly because they were not being involved in housing services. She felt that the council had made significant progress in the last two years to give residents the opportunity to get involved and shape how services were delivered.

Daniel Miller, Service Improvement & Resident Involvement Manager, explained that the emphasis of his team's work was now to put residents at the heart of decision making. The team had been expanded from 3 to 7 officers to allow them to do this; and his team now supported the Borough Housing Forum, Housing Representatives Forum, Sheltered Housing Forum, Leasehold Forums, Repairs Working Group, Communications Group, Investment Group, Inclusion Group, Reading Group, Caretaking Working Group and Residents’ Conference Planning Group. A new Resident Involvement Strategy had been developed with residents which aimed to:

1)    Place greater control and influence at the hands of our residents, making us more accountable for the housing services they receive.

2)    Deliver ‘More Involvement, Better Involvement’ by working with residents to identify and break down barriers to engagement.

3)    Promote social inclusion and support thriving and vibrant communities.


Councillor Connell asked how effective the service was at engaging new residents. Daniel Miller explained that over 150 people were directly involved in at least one of the groups previously mentioned or through their membership of a Tenants & Residents Association (TRA). At the residents conference a further 26 people had expressed an interest in getting involved in some way. These people would all be contacted by his team and officers would discuss with them how they might like to get involved; the process for contacting residents had been designed with the help of the active service improvement groups. Daniel Miller said that he was not complacent however, and explained that his team was trying to get lots more residents involved; one idea was to promote opportunities for giving instant feedback through ‘Rant and Rave’ which is being trialled by the Housing Department and repairs contract, Mitie.


John Ryan, Chair of the Investment Group agreed that more residents were needed to add to the range of experience and to reduce the workload of some of the more engaged residents. He felt that more training for those getting involved was important to retaining residents and to getting the most from them. Nilavra Mukerji explained that historically this training had been left to other volunteers, particularly Chairs, to organise, and agreed that this was not ideal. He said that officers planned to develop an induction programme for residents.


A resident said that some of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations (TRAs) in the borough were not as effective as they should be, with some not engaging well with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Date of the Next Meeting and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 135 KB

The next meeting will be held on 6 September 2016 at the Clem Attlee Residents Hall. The meeting will start at 6:00pm.

Members and residents are invited to submit suggestions for the work programme, either at the meeting or by email to


The Chair reminded the committee that the next meeting would be held at the Clem Attlee Residents Hall, on 6 September starting at 6pm. The meeting would be focussed on the Older Person’s Housing Strategy; he asked that if residents knew sheltered accommodation residents they let them know about the meeting. If older residents who particularly wanted to attend the meeting would struggle to travel to the venue they were asked to contact the Chair.


Councillor Phibbs explained that he had asked for an item on Trees on Council Estates to be brought to the PAC as there were issues with their replacement. The Chair explained that he had thought this too narrow a topic to consider alone, but said that he had asked for an item on ‘Greening our Estates’ which would cover the problems Councillor Phibbs had raised. This was scheduled to be considered at one of the first few meetings in 2017.