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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
Member/Tenants' Special Interest Group Held on 1st November 2004



APPENDIX Y
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

MEMBER/TENANTS’ SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
1ST NOVEMBER 2004

REPORT TO THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE ON 7TH DECEMBER 2004

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Present at the meeting

For WBC:The following officers were present:
Mr V K Scrivens (Chairman)Mr D January (Director of Housing)
Mr P B IsherwoodMrs S Goodall
Mrs J R KeenMr B Nichols
Dr M-G Lane
Mrs A E MansellThe following apologies for absence were
Mr A Raynerrecorded:
For the Tenants’ PanelFrom Mrs P M Frost and Mrs K Hall
Miss P Wright (Vice-Chairman)
Mrs I Birch
Mrs G Merrony
Mr R Randle
Mrs J Rawlings
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DISCLOSURES OF INTERESTS (Agenda Item 2) The following members declared interests:
In Agenda Item 6 (Review of Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour and Harassment Policy):
Mrs J R Keen – Personal and Prejudicial.
Dr M-G Lane – Personal: Chairman of Waverley Victim Support (which is likely to be involved in cases dealt with by a multi-disciplinary approach to this matter).
In Agenda Item 7 (Consultation with Tenants Receiving Supporting People Service):
Mr R Randle – Personal: Member of family works in the Sheltered Housing field.
Mr A Rayner – Personal: Works in the Sheltered Housing field.
Mrs A E Mansell – Personal: Member of Surrey Supporting People Advisory Group and the Commissioning Body.

Dr Lane, Mr Randle, Mr Rayner and Mrs Mansell remained in the Chamber during the discussion on these items.

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A. TERMS OF REFERENCE (Appendix A – Agenda Item 3)

The SIG was reminded of its Terms of Reference

B. PREVIOUS MEETINGS (Appendix B – Agenda Item 4)

The SIG received a copy of the notes of the previous meetings held on 21st June and 8th July 2004, reported to the Executive meeting on 2nd August 2004.

C. MATTERS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION/WORK PROGRAMME (Appendix C – Agenda Item 5)

The SIG received and noted the status of the items listed on its current work programme. The Director of Housing indicated that it was hoped to present reports on Cleaning of Communal Areas, Pets, and Wheelie Bins to the next meeting of the SIG on 31st January and on Elderly Persons’ Decoration Scheme and Disabled Adaptations to the meeting on 4th April 2005.

D. REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL’S ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR AND HARASSMENT POLICY FOR TENANTS OF THE COUNCIL IN LIGHT OF THE ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR ACT 2003 AND THE ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR: POLICY AND PROCEDURE CODE OF GUIDANCE FOR LOCAL HOUSING AUTHORITIES AND HOUSING ACTION TRUSTS (Appendix D – Agenda Item 6)

[Mrs J R Keen, having declared a personal and prejudicial interest in the report on this matter, left the Chamber and took no part in the discussion or voting thereon].

D.1 The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 is part of the government’s agenda to combat anti-social behaviour within communities. Its purpose is to give partner agencies the tools to get on with this task by clarifying, streamlining and reinforcing the powers available to practitioners and builds on the measures that have already been introduced, including Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) introduced in the Crime And Disorder Act 1998 and amended by the Police Reform Act 2002.

D.2 The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which came into force in June 2004 covers a range of issues that members and tenants will have seen reported in the media. These are:

(a) Closure of premises where drugs are used illegally (b) Housing (c) Dispersal of groups (d) Firearms (e) The Environment: Noise; Penalty notices for graffiti and fly posting; removal of graffiti; advertisements; aerosol paints; waste and litter. (f) Public Order and Trespass (g) High Hedges (h) Miscellaneous Powers

D.3 Part 2 and sections 12 to 16 relating to Housing lay down new requirements and adds powers for social landlords into the Housing Acts 1985, 1988 and 1996. For the Council as landlord these are:

a) Anti-social behaviour: landlords policies and procedures b) Injunctions against anti-social behaviour on application of certain social landlords c) Security of tenure: anti-social behaviour; i.e. demotion of tenancy d) Proceedings for possession: anti-social behaviour

Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003: Code of Guidance for local authorities

D.4 In August 2004, the ODPM produced a Code of Guidance for local authorities and social landlords on the preparation and publication of policies and procedures in relation to anti-social behaviour.

D.5 Landlords are required to publish the Statement and the Summary of their policy and procedures by 30th December 2004 and review such policies and procedures annually. The Statement should be comprehensive, clear and accessible to readers.

D.6 On 15th April 2003, the Council approved its policy on anti-social behaviour and harassment. Officers have developed procedures to implement the policy of the Council. However, the contents of Statement of Policies in the Code of Guidance suggests more detail than is contained in the present policy of the Council.

Review of policy on Anti-social Behaviour and Harassment for Tenants of Waverley Borough Council

D.7 The SIG was informed of the changes arising from the Anti- Social Behaviour Act 2003 and the Anti-social Behaviour: Policy and Procedure Code of Guidance for local housing authorities. It was specifically referred to Section 13 of the Act which gives Councils the power to apply to Court for a "Demotion Order" which terminates the secure tenancy and lasts up to a year from the date of the Order. It was felt that this would be a very useful tool to have in certain cases.

D.8 The proposed revised Anti-social Behaviour and Harassment policy for tenants of Waverley Borough Council is contained at Annexe 1.

Consultation with tenants D.9 The Tenants Panel organised an Anti-social Behaviour workshop on Thursday, 21st October 2004 at which the revised policies, procedures and associated leaflets were presented for discussion. The workshop was webcast so that tenants with access to a computer could watch proceedings.

D.10 The key points to come out of the Seminar were:

Anti-social Behaviour policy, procedure and two leaflets (Neighbour Nuisance and ASB Service Standards) presented. Now to be produced in final version.

Issues raised by tenants regarding lack of sound insulation – several residents presented illustrations of the effects of poor sound insulation on them – e.g. running water, boiling kettles, flushing WCs, etc, especially at night, causing disturbed sleep, etc. This was caused both by bad sound insulation between flats and by residents leading different lifestyles (who stay up all night, often with radio/TV on).

Concerns raised about "vulnerable" tenants causing ASB, affecting others but legal action apparently difficult to activate due to multi-agency involvement in dealing with the problems. This precipitates other residents to feel vulnerable and their situation not being taken seriously.

Some raised problems caused by intimidating youths congregating around estates, verbally abusing passers-by, often fuelled by alcohol and general yobbish behaviour.

Discussion about Mediation and the need to step in early before problems escalate.

Presentation on ASBOs well received.

Concern raised over time taken to build up enough evidence to take action against ASB.

Need identified to address apparent lack of feedback to complainants/victims of ASB about what is happening and what steps are being taken to tackle the ASB.

Lack of Youth Facilities

Implementation of Council’s policy on Anti-social Behaviour and Harassment for Tenants of Waverley Borough Council agreed in April 2003

D.11 Officers have been generally successful in implementing the policy agreed in April 2003. From April 2003 to June 2004, the Housing Management team of 4 officers has dealt (or is dealing with) 180 cases, many of which have been managed and resolved. The Housing Court and Legal Officer was successful in all the 9 cases which went to Court for possession due to anti-social behaviour and these tenants were subsequently evicted.

D.12 Since the implementation of the policy, inter-agency working through the Community Incident Action Group (CIAG) has improved with the Police and Waverley having a pre-meeting to ensure that the regular monthly meeting is used effectively.

D.13 The Community Housing Officer Supporting People service is supporting "vulnerable" tenants who, with support, can be helped to manage their home lives in such a way as not to cause nuisance to their neighbours and community.

Audit Commission – Housing Inspectorate

D.14 One of the key lines of enquiry (KLOE’s) of the Housing Inspectorate for Tenancy and Estate Management is how well the Council is carrying out enforcement of tenancy conditions and dealing with anti-social behaviour. It will be checking whether the Council's policies and procedures are being carried out in a timely, robust, proactive and consistent manner. This is a significant area of work for the Inspectorate to consider in determining the star rating it would give the Housing service.

Problems in fully implementing Council’s policy on Anti-social Behaviour and Harassment for Tenants agreed in April 2003

D.15 The four Housing Management officers responsible for this area of work are also responsible for dealing with all the legal and management tenancy issues and estates management for over 5,000 homes and over 1,000 garages and it is not possible for them to always provide the speed of response required for both anti-social behaviour problems and their day to day work.

D.16 These hard working officers are hard pressed to provide as effective, efficient, sensitive and consistent a service as the Council would expect for all areas of Housing management work, including that of anti-social behaviour. This also means that the "victims", the neighbours and community providing the Council with evidence and who feel vulnerable from the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour do not receive the support that they need and deserve.

D.17 The Housing service has recently invested in a Norsonic sound recorder so that tenants would not have to wait in the general Environment queue for this service. Housing officers will be trained to use this equipment for the benefit of tenants.

D.18 The Legal and Court Officer provides a level of support for witnesses but this is limited with the need to ensure that the Court papers and evidence will stand up in Court and that the Council is represented as fully as it needs for a successful outcome. In order to continue to be successful, more assistance for the preparation of such cases, in particular with the support of witnesses, is required.

Proposed Anti-Social Behaviour Officer

D.19 As a result of the volume of work and to meet the standards of Council policy and the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, authority is sought to recruit a dedicated Anti-Social Behaviour Officer to address these issues. Such an officer would also be able to take some of the pressure off existing officers and could, for example, provide support to those who suffer the consequences of anti-social behaviour (see Annexe 1).

D.20 It was agreed to review progress when the Anti-Social Behaviour Officer had been in post for 6 months.

Resource Implications

D.21 The housing management team needs training on the noise equipment and witness statements referred to above and these costs can be contained within estimates.

D.22 The full year cost of the Anti-social Behaviour Officer, referred to above, is estimated to be 32,177 at grade maxima. The cost would be borne by the HRA as landlord in respect of its responsibility to its tenants. The part year costs for 2004/05 of 8,045, with 1,500 set up costs, can be contained within the 2004/05 staff budget.

Conclusions/Recommendations

D.23 The SIG, having considered this matter at some length, is pleased to commend the following to the Executive:-

1. that the Executive be made aware of the importance placed on the control of anti-social behaviour, as demonstrated by the large attendance at the recent Tenants’ Workshop on the subject;

2. that the revised Anti-social Behaviour and Harassment for Tenants Policy, as set out in Annexe 1, be endorsed; and

3. that the appointment of a dedicated Anti-social Behaviour Officer to deal with the additional responsibilities outlined in this report be approved.

E. CONSULTATION WITH TENANTS RECEIVING THE SUPPORTING PEOPLE SERVICE IN SHELTERED SCHEMES AND IN THE COMMUNITY FROM COMMUNITY HOUSING OFFICERS (Appendix E – Agenda Item 7)

E.1 In April 2003, the funding of the support service provided to tenants in Sheltered Schemes and from the Community Housing Officers transferred from Waverley Borough Council to the administering authority, the Surrey Supporting People team, under the ODPM Supporting People regime.

E.2 The administering authority is required to set service standards, collect information on the quality of services being provided and conduct regular reviews. In 2004, Surrey Supporting People team signalled its intention to review Waverley’s sheltered and community housing Supporting People services in January 2005.

E.3 An internal Waverley review of the Quality Assessment framework, which Surrey Supporting People team will use to test the Sheltered and Community Housing support services identified that information for tenants and lack of needs assessments and support plans were an issue that needed attention. These have previously been done on an informal basis but must now be carried out formally.

E.4 Staff have now produced the draft documents and are arranging training in October and consultation with the tenants receiving the Supporting People service in sheltered schemes and from the Community Housing Officers in November.

E.5 The SIG received a report on the matter which, it was noted, was for information only, at this stage.

E.6 There will be a considerable investment of staff time to carry out the consultation but the cost of printing can be contained in Housing Revenue Account printing budgets. The major risk for the Council is if Waverley does not "pass" the Review and Surrey Supporting People team gives notice that it may reduce or withdraw funding for the services.

E.7 In 2003/04, this funding amounted to 782,316 in addition to the transitional funding left with the Council to subsidise previous users of the service and improve the delivery of housing services.

E.8 The SIG has noted that there will be further reports back at the appropriate time but at this stage has endorsed the course of action outlined in the report.

comms/executive/2004-05/257