Agenda and decisions

Executive
Wednesday, 11 March 2020 2.00pm

Venue: Shimkent Room, Daneshill House, Danestrete

Contact: Ian Gourlay (01438) 242703  Email: ian.gourlay@stevenage.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Decision:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Richard Henry.

 

There were no declarations of interest.

2.

MINUTES - 12 FEBRUARY 2020 pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meetings of the Executive held on 12 February 2020 for signature by the Chair.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 12 February 2020 be approved as correct record for signature by the Chair.

3.

MINUTES OF THE OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE AND SELECT COMMITTEES pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To note the following Minutes of meetings of the Overview & Scrutiny and Select Committees –

 

Overview & Scrutiny Committee – 28 January 2020

Environment & Economy Select Committee – 11 February 2020

Overview & Scrutiny Committee – 17 February 2020

Additional documents:

Decision:

In respect of the Minutes of the Environment & Economy Select Committee meeting held on 11 February 2020, the Leader advised that she would be discussing the matter of the maintenance of various amenity areas around the Borough with the Chair of the Select Committee and Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods & Co-operative Working, with a view to incorporating the environmental improvement of these areas into the Community Neighbourhood Management Programme.

 

In relation to the Select Committee’s on-going review of Neighbourhood Centres, the Leader requested officers to ensure that Ward Councillors were consulted on any site specific recommendations arising from the review.

 

It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the following meetings of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and Select Committees be noted –

 

Overview & Scrutiny Committee – 28 January 2020

Environment & Economy Select Committee – 11 February 2020

Overview & Scrutiny Committee – 17 February 2020

4.

DAMP AND CONDENSATION POLICY pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To seek approval of the proposed Damp and Condensation Policy and its implementation.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Leader thanked officers for the inclusion of a section clarifying the position with regard to private rented homes.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the Damp and Condensation Policy document, as attached at Appendix A to the report, be approved.

 

2.         That delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director (Housing and Investment), having consulted the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health and Older People, to approve any minor future revisions to the Policy.

 

3.         That delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director (Housing and Investment), having consulted the Portfolio Holder of Housing, Health and Older People, to approve appropriate processes and procedures in order to implement the Policy, and to approve any future revisions to them.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.

5.

AIDS AND ADAPTATIONS SERVICE POLICY pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To seek approval of the proposed Aids and Adaptations Service Policy and its implementation.

Additional documents:

Decision:

In respect of questions raised by Members, the Assistant Director (Housing & Investment) commented:

 

·      the potential transfer of homes following the death of a tenant who had benefitted from aids and adaptations was dealt with on a case by case basis.  If others were left in the household, it often took some time to provide them with suitable alternative accommodation.  Conversely, it could also take time to find a suitable tenant to benefit from aids and adaptations already carried out to a property ready to be re-let;

·      the referral system would aim to ensure that regular tenancy checks were undertaken by officers to identify potential vulnerable tenants who could benefit from aids and adaptation works.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health & Older People was asked to respond to the recent Government consultation on Aids and Adaptations, requesting that a more flexible approach be introduced regarding the national Disabled Facility Grant limit of £30,000, including the possible increase of this limit, to reflect the higher construction costs in more affluent areas of the UK.

 

The Executive supported the Leader’s suggestion that the policy should include a statement referring to the fact that the Council was continuing to monitor the delivery of aids and adaptations through the Hertfordshire Home Improvement Agency (HHIA).

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the Aids and Adaptation Policy document, as attached at Appendix A to the report, and as amended, be approved.

 

2.         That delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director (Housing and Investment), having consulted the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health and Older People, to approve any minor future revisions to the Policy.

 

3.         That delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director (Housing and Investment), having consulted the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health and Older People, to approve appropriate processes and procedures in order to implement the Policy, and to approve any future revisions to them.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.

6.

VARIATIONS OF TENANCY AGREEMENT AND CONDITIONS OF TENANCY pdf icon PDF 187 KB

To consider a variation to the Tenancy Agreement and Conditions of Tenancy.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Executive accepted an additional recommendation proposed by the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health & Older People authorising the Strategic Director (RP) to make minor changes to the Tenancy Agreement, following consultation with her.  In particular, Members asked that the element of Paragraph 4.22 of the Agreement that referred to pets and other animals be adapted to allow tenants to keep certain types of pets without needing to obtain permission (subject to conditions).

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the changes within the proposed tenancy conditions be agreed.

 

2.         That the revised Tenancy Agreement and conditions, as attached at Appendix A to the report, be approved.

 

3.         That delegated authority be given to the Strategic Director (RP), following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health & Older People, to approve any future minor revisions to the Agreement.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report; and 3. To expedite minor changes to the Agreement before publication.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.

7.

COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING pdf icon PDF 157 KB

To support taking forward the Council’s approach to Community Wealth Building (CWB) by developing an Inclusive Economy Charter,line with the CWB motion passed by the Council on 29 January 2020.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Leader commended the idea of the Community Balance Sheet, the set of metrics to be used to measure the impact of Community Wealth Building (CWB) and the concept of a Working Group to drive CWB forward.  There was a need to increase the level of local procurement, and she hoped that this would be reflected in the Council’s emerging Procurement Strategy, which itself should link into the work on CWB.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Resources was requested to raise at the next Local Government Pensions meeting the possibility of the Hertfordshire Pension Fund contributing towards CWB, seeing it as an avenue towards the generation of local investment.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That an Inclusive Economy Charter be developed and launched by the end of June 2020, underpinned by an action plan, this Charter to include a space for communities and stakeholders to pledge their support.

 

2.         That the Council pilots a Community Balance Sheet in partnership with its Co-operative Neighbourhoods Programme, and that this Balance Sheet be published alongside its annual statement of accounts.

 

3.         That the Council agrees a set of metrics to measure the impact of Community Wealth Building (CWB) on day-to-day business, and that this process be supported by a cross-departmental working group.

 

4.         That the Council facilitates a CWB Group to review progress and to validate findings of impact work, and to support the Council to share best practice at a regional and national level.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.

8.

CORPORATE PERFORMANCE 2019/20 - QUARTER 3 pdf icon PDF 284 KB

To consider the Council’s performance across key priorities and themes for Quarter 3 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Decision:

In respect of the impact of Universal Credit on rent collection levels, the Leader asked officers to lobby the Government to allow rents to be paid directly to Councils, to avoid the potential for Universal Credit payments (to cover rent) not being subsequently paid by the tenants to Councils.  In addition, Members felt that, where appropriate, SBC tenants should be encouraged to apply to have such Universal Credit payments paid directly to the Council.

 

In respect of sickness absence, officers undertook to ensure that cases of absence due to coronavirus were recorded separately from the generic sickness figures.

 

The Leader was pleased to report that many of the performance highlights during Quarter 3 of 2019/20 referred to by the Chief Executive were to be mentioned in the forthcoming edition of the Council’s Chronicle magazine.

 

The Executive agreed that the Community Neighbourhood Management Programme should be added to the list of strategies and plans set out in Paragraph 3.4 of the report, which would be included within the “Place of Choice” strand of the Future Town, Future Council (FTFC) Programme.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the delivery of priorities which form the Future Town, Future Council Programme and performance of the Council across the key themes for Quarter Three 2019/20, together with the latest achievements, be noted.

2.         That the suite of strategies included in the scope of the new Place of Choice programme, as set out in Paragraph 3.4 of the report, be agreed, and that the progress being made in identifying associated actions to be tracked for 2020/21 be noted.

3.         That actions to commence implementation of the Corporate Landlord Review, and toensure the prompt certification of health and safety compliance of non-domestic/non-commercial Council buildings in accordance with the compliance contract, be noted and endorsed (Paragraphs 3.124 and 3.125 of the report).

4.         That further improvement plans for the Customer Service Centre be noted and endorsed (Paragraphs 3.119 to 3.123 of the report).

5.         That ongoing implementation of improved practices to support sickness absence management be endorsed (Paragraphs 3.110 to 3.112 of the report).

 

6.         That issues with the delay in inspections to Council garages be recognised and plans to improve garages lettings be noted (Paragraphs 3.93 to 3.95 of the report).

 

7.         That improvement plans for the collection of rent be endorsed (Paragraphs 3.72 to 3.73 of the report).

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.

 

 

9.

3RD QUARTER REVENUE MONITORING REPORT - GENERAL FUND AND HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 719 KB

To consider the 3rd Quarter General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Revenue Monitoring Report 2019/20.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED:

 

General Fund

 

1.         That the 2019/20 3rd Quarter General Fund projected net decrease in expenditure of £108,000 be approved, and that the cumulative changes made to the General Fund remain within the £400,000 (increase) variation delegated to Executive.

 

2.         That the progress of the 2019/20 approved savings, growth bids and carry forwards be noted.

 

3.         That the new carry forward requests of £100,800 be approved.

 

Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

 

4.         That the 2019/20 3rd Quarter decrease in the net HRA deficit of £16,440 be approved.

 

5.         That the progress of the 2019/20 approved savings, growth bids and carry forward requests be noted.

 

6.         That new carry forward requests of £47,000 be approved.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.

10.

3RD QUARTER CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT - GENERAL FUND AND HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 612 KB

To consider the 3rd Quarter General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Capital Monitoring Report 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Decision:

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the 2019/20 General Fund Capital Programme net decrease in expenditure of £15.5Million be approved, as summarised in Table One, Paragraph 4.1.1. of the report.

 

2.         That the General Fund net increase of capital expenditure of £15.8Million in 2020/21, also as summarised in Table One, Paragraph 4.1.1 of the report, be approved.

 

3.         That the net decrease of £3.6Million in the capital expenditure for the 2019/20 Housing Revenue Account, as summarised in Table Three, Paragraph 4.3.1. of the report, be approved.

 

4.         That the net increase of £4.0Million in the capital expenditure for 2020/21 Housing Revenue Account, also as summarised in Table Three, Paragraph 4.3.1. of the report, be approved.

 

Reason for Decision:  As contained in report.

Other Options considered:  As contained in report.

11.

URGENT PART I BUSINESS

To consider any Part I business accepted by the Chair as urgent.

Decision:

The Chair accepted items of urgent Part I business in respect of an update on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, and on the financial implications for the Council of the outbreak.

 

1.     Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak

 

The Strategic Director (RP) gave an update on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

 

Members agreed that officers be instructed to request the Hertfordshire County Council Public Health Team to send out a communication to all residents expressing concerns that some ethnic groups had been targeted by certain individuals as carrying/being responsible for the spread of coronavirus, and categorically stating that there was no link between the virus and ethnicity.

 

Members further agreed that officers be asked to write to the Chief Executive of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, stating that the Council was understanding of the increased pressure placed upon him and his colleagues due to Covid-19, and offering the Council’s help to do all it could to support the Trust, as well conveying the Council’s best wishes for the coming weeks.

 

2.     Financial Implications for the Council of the Coronavirus outbreak

 

The Accountancy Services Manager gave a verbal report on the financial implications for the Council of the Coronavirus outbreak.

 

The Executive requested officers to provide an assessment of the loss of income to the Council as a result of the measures introduced by the Government due to Covid-19 outbreak, and that a letter be written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking what proposals were in place to mitigate against this further loss of income to Councils.

 

The Chief Executive summarised a briefing note prepared by the Strategic Director (CF) in respect of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget.  He agreed to circulate this briefing note to all Members.

12.

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

To consider the following motions –

 

1.         That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.

 

2.         That Members consider the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determine whether or not maintaining the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.

 

2.         That Members consider the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determine whether or not maintaining the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

 

 

13.

PART II MINUTES - EXECUTIVE - 12 FEBRUARY 2020

To approve as a correct record the Part II section of the Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 12 February 2020 for signature by the Chair.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Part II Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 12 February 2020 be approved as a correct record for signature by the Chair.

14.

PART II MINUTES - OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - 12 FEBRUARY 2020

To note the Part II Minutes of the meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 12 February 2020.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Part II Minutes of the meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 12 February 2020 be noted.

15.

URGENT PART II BUSINESS

To consider any Part II business considered by the Chair as urgent.

Decision:

None.