Agenda and minutes

The Economy, Housing and the Arts Policy and Accountability Committee
Tuesday, 7th March, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Courtyard Room - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

38.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Lucy Ivimy.

 

 

39.

Declarations of Interest

* See note below.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

40.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 17 January were agreed to be accurate.

41.

Greening Our Estates pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Minutes:

Councillor De’Ath explained that the council wanted to be the greenest council in the country and that there had been many initiatives across different service areas to help achieve this. There had been a number of projects to make estates greener and he invited Sharon Schaaf to present the work to the committee.

 

Sharon Schaaf explained that the council had implemented green roofs, tree and wildflower planting, rainwater gardens, swales and food growing projects at many of the estates in the borough. The first projects had begun in 2012/13 with Flora Gardens being the first project. From 2013/14 larger schemes began at the Queen Caroline and Maystar Estates and at Cyril Thatcher and Richard Knight Sheltered Accommodation Blocks. The schemes included a 25% increase in permeable surfaces, 20,000m³ of water retention capacity, 600 trees, green roofs, food growing areas and water harvesting systems. These schemes were partially funded through the EU Life+ project. The projects had also involved residents in the changes being made to their estates and this had been a key part of their success; there had since been many applications for further environmental improvements as a result of the enthusiasm generated. Some of the schemes had been recognised with a number of awards from the Landscape Institute, including the EU Life+ schemes winning the Fellows’ Award for Climate Change Adaptation.

 

A resident of Millshot Close said that the scheme there was very impressive; he had noticed passers by stopping to take photographs of the new landscaping. Another resident said that the scheme had also had social benefits, bringing the community together; he said that the council needed to fund this type of scheme well as their results were greatly valued by residents.

 

A resident of Queen Caroline Estate said that the project there had brought the wider community together, not just those who were residents of the estate. The Sustainable Drainage (SuDS) elements of the scheme had also proven to be very effective.

 

A resident asked whether the schemes were designed to encourage wildlife and biodiversity. Sharon Schaaf explained that the council did consider what could be done to improve biodiversity; planting was planned to provide habitats and bird-boxes had been installed in some schemes. There was however a balance to be struck between making the projects useable for residents and good for wildlife; for example, some trees were great for wildlife but dropped sticky residue on cars and so wouldn’t be used in a car park. The council had recently established a Biodiversity Commission which, it was hoped, would make recommendations on how biodiversity could be further encouraged.

 

A resident said that the project on the Maystar Estate had led to a group of residents getting together each week to do gardening. The group had recently benefitted from GoodGym members turning over some hard ground so that it could be used for more planting. She felt however that the council needed to give more information to residents about how to care for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Update on the Stock Transfer pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Homan apologised that she would have to leave the meeting for a short period during the consideration of this item because of an urgent issue.

 

Kath Corbett explained that in December 2015 the Cabinet had agreed to pursue a stock transfer, subject to the availability of funding and the negotiation of a satisfactory financial settlement with the government. The government had now decided that it would not support stock transfers with debt write offs. All previous stock transfers, including three in March 2015, had been funded with debt write offs, under the previous Housing Stock Transfer manual which expired in March 2016; Kath Corbett explained that the report had contained a typographical error about the date of the previous transfers. The government had also failed to publish a new Stock Transfer Manual which was required to progress the proposed transfer. The Council and Shadow Board had explored a range of alternative funding options and ways that the transfer could be progressed but these had not been successful. The Council would not therefore be pursuing the transfer any further. 

 

The Leader of the Council explained that when he had been Leader of the Opposition housing estates in the borough had been sold by the Council, often at what he considered to be bargain basement prices. Leaseholders who lived on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates were unlikely to be able to continue to live in Hammersmith and Fulham, whilst older leaseholders may not be able to buy again as mortgage providers would not be keen to take them on. Tenants would also suffer, being moved from their homes to other sites. The Council was now trying to renegotiate the deal to make it fairer to residents.

 

To avoid this happening again the council had wanted to give residents control of their homes and the Residents Commission on Council Housing had suggested that a stock transfer to a community gateway housing association would be the best way to do this. Stock transfers were then being supported by the government and so the proposal was pursued. The government now seemed to oppose stock transfers and so it would be impossible to progress the scheme. The Council would be challenging the government on their change of view. The Council had also set up the resident-led Defend Council Homes Unit which would be working to find other ways to protect residents homes.

 

A resident asked whether politicians opposed to the plan had lobbied the government to change its views on stock transfers. The Leader said that he didn’t know why the government had changed its policy.

 

A resident noted that Inside Housing had reported the decision to stop work on the stock transfer on 1 March and asked why the press had been told before residents. The Leader explained that the agenda for the PAC had been published, as required by law, 5 clear days before the meeting; as the report explained that work on the transfer had been stopped it was likely  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Date of the Next Meeting and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 151 KB

The next meeting will be held on 26 April 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:

Councillor Phibbs said that he had requested an item on the use of Interim Management Orders, which allowed the council to take over properties for a period of time; he suggested that these properties could then be used as temporary accommodation. Councillor Homan suggested that a report on Temporary Accommodation Procurement could be brought to the PAC, including a response to Councillor Phibbs’ suggestion.

 

Councillor Phibbs said that he had also asked for an item on the removal of satellite dishes. Councillor De’Ath explained that he felt that this issue would be better dealt with as a member’s enquiry rather than requiring a PAC report, as it was a relatively small problem.