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Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2019.
The minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2019 were agreed as an accurate record. The chair highlighted that there were two outstanding action points, namely: i) details of how many S106 officers worked at the Council and ii) further information on the Right to Buy scheme and HRA. The clerk confirmed that this information had been chased and would be circulated as soon as it had been received.
This report provides an update on the potential themes to be explored by the Arts Commission.
Councillor Andrew Jones introduced the item and explained the rationale for the Council’s development of an Arts Strategy and its relationship with the Industrial Strategy. He stated that the Council had a track record of using commissions as an effective means of engaging with communities and ensuring residents’ views were considered as new policies were developed.
Acknowledging the December 2018 PAC meeting and the questions that had arisen, he confirmed the Council had taken stock of the issues which had been raised and a new timetable for the Arts Commission had been drawn up. The Committee were informed that the Arts Commission’s programme had not started, the evidence gathering sessions had not been finalised and further thought had gone into its nature and independence.
Councillor Andrew Jones confirmed the purpose of the meeting was rewind the approach which had been suggested in December 2018 and to explore the types of questions the Arts Commission might explore during the evidence gathering phase. Possible themes included: the parameters of the Arts Commission, arts organisations and their role in land development, as well as performance and rehearsal space. Further topics included the relationship between the Arts and the Industrial Strategy, the historic underfunding of the arts and engagement and inclusion.
Joanne Woodward, Chief Planning and Economic Development Officer, reiterated the points made by Councillor Andrew Jones and confirmed that several new themes had been distilled into a series of questions which were set out in Appendix 1.
Councillor Rowan Ree confirmed he was pleased the ten questions outlined in Appendix 1 of the report referred to engagement with young people and asked how the Commission would be working with local schools. Councillor Andrew Jones confirmed that officers had already spoken to both Primary and Secondary School Heads about the Arts Commission / Industrial Strategy and the Council was thinking about how breakfast clubs might be used as a means of delivering talks on technology and the arts. Councillor Andrew Jones explained that one of the Arts Commission’s sessions would focus on what could be done to promote the arts to school children and incorporate topics such as islands of excellence, universal offers, best practice, as well as young people and arts outside the school environment.
Councillor Adronie Alford commented that the Committee had still not received a satisfactory response to questions it had asked in December 2018 related to the Arts Commission’s membership and the backgrounds of the
proposed panel members. She reiterated that the Committee knew nothing about them and was concerned that the panel members would be drawn from too a narrow band of expertise. In response, Councillor Andrew Jones confirmed that the Council was seeking to engage with experts from across the arts and it was essential the Commission panel members had experience of grass root issues, venues and inclusion.
Councillor Adronie Alford asked when the Committee would be provided with more information about the Commissioners and noted that the timescales mentioned in the report were very different from ... view the full minutes text for item 35.
This report provides an update on the Borough’s property licensing schemes and how they are being used to improve housing standards in the private rented sector.
Valerie Simpson (Interim Strategic Lead for Environmental Health and Regulatory Services) introduced the report which provided an update on the Borough’s property licensing schemes and how they were being used to improve housing standards in the private rented sector.
Providing context, Councillor Lisa Homan explained the Private Rented Sector had expanded rapidly in the last 10 years and now accounted for approximately a third of the borough’s housing. The Committee noted that to improve standards, a selective licensing scheme had been introduced in 2017 which applied to approximately 20% of the streets in the borough.
Dawood Haddadi (LBHF Team Manager, Private Sector Housing) provided a presentation which covered a number of aspects including:
Councillor Zarar Qayyum asked about mandatory and discretionary licences and what the differences were. In response, Dawood Haddadi explained that the Housing Act 2004 placed a duty on local authorities to licence certain types of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), to improve standards in the private rented sector. This duty of mandatory licensing only applied to HMOs which were occupied by five or more persons forming two or more separate households. In 2016, officers carried out a detailed survey of housing conditions in the private rented sector and found that a significant proportion of properties were substandard and did not meet the criteria for licensing. Following extensive consultation with landlords, residents and other major stakeholders, the Council introduced two discretionary licensing schemes to raise standards in the private rented sector which could operate for up to five years. These were:
Councillor Zarar Qayyum noted that 250 properties had been inspected so far and asked how long this had taken. In response, Dawood Haddadi explained that inspections had started in 2017. Given the high volume of inspections required, it was noted that officers prioritised their inspections based on the information provided by the applicant and local intelligence that officers received relating to the property.
Councillor Lisa Homan confirmed the Council was taking a proactive approach to property licensing and there were a number of officers working in cross functional teams to support the private rented sector. It was noted that the illegal internal conversion of ex-Council properties was a growth area and raising overall standards was a slow and gradual process.
Councillor Rowan Ree asked which landlords needed a licence. In response, Dawood Haddadi provided details the mandatory element of the licensing scheme and explained the changes which had been made when the additional licensing scheme was introduced. ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
This report provides a summary of the work that’s taken place to date to establish five weekly digital hubs across the borough on council housing estates.
Daniel Miller (Resident Involvement and Service Improvement Manager) introduced the report which summarised the work which had been done so far to establish five weekly digital hubs across the borough on council housing estates. The report highlighted the key achievements and set out what the proposed next steps were.
Daniel Miller explained that the original aim of the project aim was to set up five hubs by May 2019. It was noted that this target had been met by January 2019 and weekly digital hubs were taking place at Queen Caroline, Clem Attlee, Charecroft, Wood Lane, and Philpot Estate halls.
The Committee noted that the digital inclusion project linked to the Resident Involvement Strategy 2016-2018 with the objectives of:
· Placing greater control and influence at the hands of our residents, making us more accountable for the housing services they receive.
· More involvement, better involvement
· Promote social inclusion and support thriving and vibrant communities
Daniel Miller confirmed that the cost of the project was £79,048 which had been paid for from section 106 contributions. The Committee noted that funding had been secured until 9 May 2019 and options were being considered to extend this funding for another 12 months.
In terms of the outcomes to date, it was noted that 91 separate sessions had been held across the five locations and 564 council housing residents had been assisted.
Kim Shearer, Community Facilities Officer in the Resident Involvement Team, cited some case studies to illustrate how the scheme had assisted residents, to track medication (by using Excel), become more conversant with using new technology such as Ipads and new telephones, as well as stay in touch with grandchildren in other countries (through What’s App).Concluding his initial remarks, Daniel Miller confirmed that moving forwards, the aspiration was to support the development and delivery of the existing five digital hubs and, if possible, compliment these with the addition of three further hubs across the borough.
Councillor Lisa Homan underlined how important the internet had become in shaping everyone’s daily lives and why digital literacy was essential.
Councillor Adronie Alford asked if officers had considered holding a session at sheltered housing accommodation. Councillor Lisa Homan confirmed that officers would be providing sessions in these locations in the future. Councillor Rowan Ree agreed that digital inclusion on housing estates was a fantastic initiative and commented that the rise of online universal credit had made digital awareness mandatory. Councillor Rowan Ree asked officers why they thought estates were less well connected than other areas in the borough. In response, officers confirmed that they were currently working on a digital heat map of the borough to identify areas of deprivation, so resources could be targeted more effectively.
Referring to the pie charts which had been included with the report, Councillor Rowan Ree asked officers why there had been more female respondents to surveys. In response, officers confirmed that men were less likely to admit they were not conversant with the latest technology and required further training.
Councillor ... view the full minutes text for item 37.