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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 17/05/2005
Member/Tenants' SIG



APPENDIX D

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

MEMBER/TENANTS’ SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP

4TH APRIL 2005

REPORT TO THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE ON 17TH MAY 2005

Mr K T Reed, the new Executive Portfolio Holder for Housing, was confirmed as Chairman of the SIG in succession to Mr V K Scrivens.

A. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS

There were no disclosures of interests.

B. TERMS OF REFERENCE

The SIG was reminded of its Terms of Reference.

C. PREVIOUS MEETING

The SIG received a copy of the notes of the previous meeting held on 1st November 2004 and reported to the Executive meeting on 7th December 2004.

D. MATTERS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION/WORK PROGRAMME

The SIG received and noted the status of the items listed on its current work programme. The Director of Housing reminded members that three of the issues were the subject of items to be presented at the meeting, i.e. Cleaning of Communal Areas, Wheelie Bins and Disabled Adaptations. Members were informed that if there were any matters that they wished to raise between meetings to advise the officers. It was anticipated that there would be reports to the next meeting on (i) Compensation for tenants when things go wrong in adjoining properties, (ii) Pets and (iii) Elderly Persons’ Decoration Scheme. The Welcome Standard item on the list is now deleted.

E. WHEELIE BINS

The SIG received an oral report from officers on the position regarding Wheelie Bins. This was in response to a concern of the Tenants’ Panel that there were many tenants who had the small wheelie bins and really needed large ones but were, in many cases, unable to afford them. It was recognised that a problem did exist for some tenants and it was agreed that the officers should report back, if possible to the next meeting, with some proposals for resolving these difficulties. In the meantime, arrangements would be made for placing a questionnaire in the next issue of Waverley Homes which would help to publicise the issue and hopefully assist the officers to establish where the problems lie and how best to overcome them.

F. REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL’S POLICY FOR DISABLED ADAPTATIONS IN COUNCIL (MANAGED) PROPERTIES, IMPROVING THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS AND DEVELOPING A FAST TRACK SYSTEM FOR MINOR WORKS

The SIG considered a comprehensive report on this matter and agreed to recommend the Executive as follows:

1. the revised policy for Disabled Adaptations in Council (Managed) Properties be adopted;

2. housing staff improving the assessment process for disabled adaptations, in accordance with the report, be supported;

3. the development of a fast track system for minor adaptations be supported; and

4. the officers report back to the SIG on the outcome of the pilot scheme.

[Because it was required that this revised scheme came into operation as speedily as possible, this matter was reported to the 5th April meeting of the Executive for endorsement. The above recommendations of the SIG (numbered 4 - 7 in the report) were adopted by the Executive].

G. CLEANING OF COMMUNAL ENTRANCES AND STAIRWAYS OF COUNCIL PROPERTIES

G.1 The Council has 67 blocks with 385 flats with common entrances and stairwells which the tenants and leaseholders have usually kept clean on an informal basis.

G.2 Many of the residents are elderly or lead busy family lives and there are increasing concerns that a tenant or leaseholder may have an accident or cause one whilst carrying out communal cleaning.

G.3 The Council is responsible for the condition of the communal entrances and stairwells but has not had the staff to regularly inspect these areas.

G.4 Service charges for the management of communal areas are the responsibility of the tenant or leaseholder receiving the service. Previously for tenants such charges for special cleans and grounds maintenance may have been pooled within all the rents but because of rent restructuring this is no longer possible. Leaseholders have been recharged through their service charge for such services.

G.5 Officers conducted a pilot project for cleaning the communal areas of:

G.6 Since October 2004, a local contractor has been carrying out a monthly clean, sweeping floors, dusting ledges, stair-rails and sills, cleaning doors and communal glass, sweeping outside entrances, removing cobwebs and reporting any vandalism or repairs.

G.7 The cost of the basic cleaning service with overheads per flat is, on average, 95p per week for a monthly cleaning service. Officers were concerned about the affordability of the service for both tenants and leaseholders and felt that a monthly clean would maintain a minimum standard. During the pilot project the tenants and leaseholders have not been charged for the service.

G.8 A survey of the tenants and leaseholders in the 142 flats (16% of whom responded) produced the following results:

G.9 Officers have inspected and arranged for a local tenant or leaseholder to report on the quality of the clean and are generally pleased with the results of the pilot project.

G.10 The Council can manage the health and safety risk of the cleaning of communal areas and the reporting of any hazards or repairs required in these areas through employing a contractor to regularly clean these areas.

G.11 The cost of the cleaning for each block of flats is the responsibility of each of the tenants or leaseholders who live in that block and has to be set as a service charge for each flat in the block. Under the tenancy agreement, the Council can charge the service charge to each tenant or leaseholder receiving the service.

G.12 The service charge per flat would be 95p per week for the tenants and leaseholders of the 385 flats in 67 blocks with common entrances and stairwells and would be charged in addition to the rent for tenants. This would be subject to annual review.

G.13 For tenants, the service charge will be in addition to their rent but is allowable for housing benefit for this communal service.

G.14 To keep the service charge affordable for tenants and leaseholders not in receipt of benefit, officers consider that a monthly clean is advisable.

G.15 The SIG, having considered this matter, accordingly

RECOMMENDS to the Executive

8. that a monthly cleaning service for all blocks of flats with communal entrances and stairwells be implemented and that the responsible tenants and leaseholders be charged a service charge for this service.

H. TENANT PARTICIPATION AGREEMENT

The SIG was advised that once the ballot of tenants on the future of the Council’s housing stock was known, attention would need to be drawn to revising the Tenant Participation Agreement which was last issued in September 2002.
Present at the meeting
    For Waverley Borough Council
      Mrs P Ellis
      Mrs P M Frost
      Mr P B Isherwood
      Mrs A E Mansell
      Mr K T Reed

      For the Tenants’ Panel
        Miss P Wright (Vice-Chairman)
        Mrs I Birch
        Mrs K Hall
        Mr G Merrony
        Mr R Randle
        Mrs J Rawlings
        The following officers were present:

        Mr D January (Director of Housing)
        Mrs S Goodall
        Mr B Nichols
        Mr M Shorten
        Mr P Redmond

        The following apologies for absence were recorded:

        Mrs J R Keen, Dr M-G Lane and Mr A Rayner

        comms/exec/04-05/494 43474