Agenda and minutes

The Economy, Housing and the Arts Policy and Accountability Committee - Tuesday, 13th December, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Small Hall - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  Tel: 020 8753 2088 / Email  ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

27.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Councillor Daryl Brown had sent her apologies for late arrival. Councillor Ben Coleman, Cabinet Member for Commercial Revenue and Residents Satisfaction, had sent his apologies for absence.

28.

Declarations of Interest

* See note below.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

29.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 1 November 2016 were agreed to be accurate.

 

Anthony Wood explained that at the meeting held on 6 September 2016 officers had committed to supporting the lighting sub-group. Unfortunately since that meeting the sub-group had not been able to hold an effective meeting as the required officers could not all attend at the same time. Councillor Homan agreed to raise this issue with officers.

30.

Working at Height and Scaffolding on Council Properties pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Homan, Cabinet Member for Housing, explained that scaffolding had been a cause for complaints by residents for many years. She said that officers had been working on ways to reduce the inconvenience to residents, although there was still much to do.

 

Paul Monforte explained that the council had to do a large amount of work at height to maintain its housing stock. This work needed to be carried out safely and in many cases this meant that scaffolding was essential, however, a thorough evaluation of alternative ways of doing the work would be completed before scaffolding was selected.

 

Paul Monforte acknowledged that scaffolding was disruptive to residents, blocking light, preventing the use of gardens and causing security fears; indeed 105 complaints had been made about scaffolding over the last year, which made up 12% of complaints about the repairs service. Scaffolding was also expensive, for example, making up 22% of the external capital repairs programme.

 

Officers were making attempts to limit the use of scaffolding, for example, by making the process to evaluate which method for working at height to use more robust, keeping a scaffold register to track where scaffolding was being left up for too long. New technology was also being brought in to use, particularly for inspections. Where scaffolding was necessary, officers were working to improve communications with residents so that they knew why scaffolding was there and how long it would be up.

 

Laura Mitcham, Service Improvement Manager - Mitie, explained that the company had recently started to use drones to carry out survey and inspection work. This approach was not possible in all cases but where a drone could be used it had a number of advantages. The principal advantage was that scaffolding would not be needed until work was begun, which would benefit residents and save the council significant amounts of money. The use of drones would also provide better photographic evidence which could be used to show residents what was being done and support the Section 20 process; the view which could be obtained from drone footage was in some ways better than the view which could be got from a scaffold, particularly for roofs. Footage from a drone flight and stills taken from surveys around the borough were shown to the committee, which was impressed with its clarity.

 

In response to questions Laura Mitcham explained that the drones were owned and operated by a specialist contractor; the drones were piloted by operators licenced by the Civil Aviation Authority. A 25m Safety Zone was needed when the drone was in flight, although this in many cases preferable to disruption caused by the erection and dismantling of scaffolding.

 

Councillor Phibbs asked whether drone surveys were sufficiently good to allow surveyors to accurately assess works. Ernest Gray, Manager of Planned and Capital Works, said that in most cases the drone footage was far better than what a surveyor could see from scaffolding. There would still occasionally need to be physical inspections, for example, where  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

Financial Plan for Council Homes 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Homan noted that this annual report was usually an opportunity for the PAC and residents to discuss the proposed Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget for the next year. She explained that as the Government had forced councils to cut rents by 1% each year there was less for the committee to consider.

 

Kathleen Corbett, Director for Finance and Resources (Housing), explained that the rent reduction had placed considerable pressure on the HRA budget. The planned works programme had been reprioritised to delay spending on kitchens and bathrooms whilst leaving windows to be replaced more quickly, in accordance with residents wishes. The impact of the Government’s proposed high value voids policy had not been included as no payment would now have to be made until after the 2017/18 financial year.

 

Anthony Wood asked how else the council had been trying to offset costs. Kathleen Corbett explained that the council was trying to increase other income, for example through the rental of garages and commercial properties; it was hoped that this would bring in an additional £200,000 in the next financial year.

32.

Date of the Next Meeting and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 147 KB

The next meeting will be held on 13 January 2017 in the Courtyard Room at Hammersmith Town Hall. The meeting will start at 7:00pm.

Members and residents are invited to submit suggestions for the work programme, either at the meeting or by email to ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Minutes:

The Chair explained the proposed work programme for the next few meetings and asked for any suggested additions to it.

 

Councillor Phibbs noted the item on Greening our Estates and asked that either Gavin Simmons or Mark Waters be invited to the meeting to address concerns he had about trees on housing estates.

 

Councillor Phibbs asked that the PAC receive a regular report on key performance indicators for the housing department. The Chair agreed that this would be a helpful report.

 

Councillor Phibbs asked that an item on the use of tenants’ halls be brought to the PAC as he remained concerned that they were sitting empty. Councillor Homan said that residents had been working with officers on this issue and that a report could be brought to highlight the improvements made to the PAC.

 

The Chair asked that if possible the item on Worklessness be brought to the April 2017 meeting.

 

A resident asked that a further item on the Arts be considered early in the new municipal year.

 

The Clerk told members that the report of the Poverty and Worklessness Commission, which had looked at issues within the PAC’s remit, was expected to be considered by the Health, Adult Social Care and Social Inclusion PAC on 31 January 2017 at 7pm and that ERHA PAC members were invited to attend and take part in the discussion.