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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 06/02/2007
Member/Tenants' Special Interest Group 29th January 2007




FOR INFORMATION ONLY
APPENDIX T
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

MEMBER/TENANTS’ SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
29TH JANUARY 2007

REPORT TO THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE ON 6TH FEBRUARY 2007


A. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

B. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS

There were no disclosures of interests.

C. TERMS OF REFERENCE

The SIG was reminded of its Terms of Reference.

D. PREVIOUS MEETING

The SIG received and noted the report of the previous meeting held on 2nd October 2006.

E. MATTERS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION/WORK PROGRAMME

The SIG noted the items for future discussion.

F. CHOICE BASED LETTINGS

F.1 The SIG received a presentation which updated them on the progress of the Choice Based Lettings (CBL) scheme. The SIG noted that it was a requirement for all Councils to introduce a CBL scheme by 2010 and that Waverley was part of a sub-regional scheme with Guildford, Rushmoor and Hart for which start-up funding had been received. The Council had agreed to take this opportunity to move from a points based allocations system to a more customer friendly banding system. All housing applicants had received a letter which informed them of their band as well as an explanatory newsletter. The proposed start date was on schedule for the middle of March 2007, subject to the successful implementation of IT systems.

F.2 There was a query about whether co-opted Members were receiving papers for the Member/Tenants’ SIG, the Housing SIG and the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Officers said they would check the lists.

F.3 The SIG noted the report.

G. HOUSING OPTIONS RE-APPRAISAL

G.1 Members received a report which provided a summary of actions taken throughout the Housing Options Reappraisal process, identifying decisions made, the current position and future issues for the Council.

G.2 Members heard that the Housing SIG had reappraised the Council’s housing options to meet the Decent Homes Standard (DHS) and that officers would continue to strive to meet the standard through maximising income, resources assessment and service reviews. The Housing SIG had examined all stock options available to the Council and considered the resources, services and assets of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

G.3 Members heard that the Council had little room for manoeuvre and that, for the immediate future, stock retention was the ‘default’ option even though this meant that the DHS would not be achieved. Officers said that since the report had been written, they had met with the Government Office for the South East who were content with the re-appraisal, although acknowledging that Waverley would not be able to meet the DHS. G.3 The SIG noted the contents of the report, including the fact that the Member/Tenants’ SIG would in future be dealing with reports on matters that would otherwise have been considered by the Housing SIG now that its Terms of Reference had been achieved.

H. DECENT HOMES – TENANTS’ IMPROVEMENTS GRANT SCHEME

H.1 Members noted a report which encouraged tenants to undertake improvements to their homes that would co-incidentally meet the DHS in their properties. The report suggested that the Council make a financial grant to the tenant for carrying out certain improvements that included works identified as required for the property to meet the DHS.

H.2 Members raised several issues including concerns about electrical wiring standards and whether inspections would be covered in the cost of the scheme. Officers also said that double-glazing would be considered as an improvement at a later stage.

H.3 The SIG felt that it was important that tenants needed to be in full compliance with their tenancy agreement before taking part in the scheme e.g. to be up-to-date with rent etc. Members also felt that improvements should be carried out within six months where possible.

H.4 The SIG agreed to


I. INCENTIVE SCHEME FOR CONDITION OF PROPERTY WHEN TENANT LEAVES – UPDATE ON ORGANISATION OF PILOT SCHEME WORKSHOP

I.1 The SIG noted a report that explained how a pilot incentive scheme to encourage tenants to clean and clear the premises when vacating the property could make financial and time economies during the void process. The idea was to save money spent on removing rubbish. Officers said they needed a benchmark to judge success in order to set up a robust system of recharging, by gathering information over a four-month period.

I.2 In discussion, some Members were still unhappy to pay tenants for something they felt they should be doing anyway. Officers also pointed out that vacation of a property covered a range of situations. Members discussed alternative ways of saving money on clearance, suggesting that, in the rental sector, and in armed forces’ accommodation, a deposit was withheld from the tenants as an incentive to clean up.

I.3 One of the key issues was the need for routine inspections of properties to ensure that properties were kept clean and clear, however, officers said that this would be resource intensive at the present time. It was agreed that, although tenancy agreements worked well for the vast majority of law abiding tenants, officers would look at alternative options for saving money on clearing void properties.

I.4 Given the concerns expressed, the SIG agreed that an interim report be brought back to the Member/Tenants’ SIG on the results of a full examination of the recharging exercise, to provide the comparison data for a void incentive scheme, and a reference to any alternative options.

J. REVIEW OF THE WAVERLEY STANDARD FOR DECENT HOMES IMPROVEMENT WORK

J.1 Members noted a report which sought agreement to the proposed changes to the Waverley Standard following a review by officers and stakeholders. Officers said they had done more work on the Waverley Standard and had set out proposals for savings on improvement works in the report.

J.2 Members queried why work was being done on a Waverley Standard when the Council would not be able to meet the basic DHS standard. Officers explained that the DHS only set criteria, whereas the specific level of standard remained up to the Council to decide. The SIG agreed to

RECOMMEND that the Waverley Standard be modified as follows:-

10. Bathroom:-
Shower provision – to continue to provide static showers on taps, omitting tiling and curtains

11. Kitchen:-
Continue with larder removals for kitchen upgrades where appropriate
Continue to provide high quality lever taps, omitting plastering of poor wall finishes and reduction of splash-back tiling

12. Rewiring:-
Continue to provide external and/or rear entrance lights.


K. WAVERLEY TENANT PARTICIPATION COMPACT

K.1 Members noted an updated version of the Waverley Tenant Participation Compact, which had been discussed at previous meetings. Officers reminded the Group that it was a three year agreement between tenants and the Council setting out how tenants could be more involved in decisions affecting their homes and communities. The compact had been amended since it was last discussed and the group made the following comments on the revised version:

Move the statement of intent to the beginning
Add a contents page
Pg 45 (on agenda) delete word ‘Forms of’ from the ’Tenant participation’ title
Pg 46 - Note that not every area has a Neighbourhood Panel
Pg 46 - Add the word ‘issue’ after ‘tackling this’ on Neighbourhood Panel paragraph
Pg 47 - Point 7 on Targets for Participation - add the word ‘local’ to tenant groups
Pg 47 - change picture to a picture of the Tenants’ Panel
Pg 49 - on Neighbourhood Panel meetings add the word ‘reporting’ to tackling
Pg 49 - Use the word ‘regularly’ instead of bi-yearly
Pg 50 - Tenant satisfaction surveys – need to know tenants receive forms – and also add a title to the picture in this section
Retain font size as smaller document size is useful but consider making the reference to obtaining copies in larger font more visible.

K.2 With the above changes, Members noted the revised compact.

Present at the meeting

For Waverley Borough Council The following officers were present:

Mr K T Reed (Chairman) David January
Mrs P Ellis Sheila Goodall
Mrs P M Frost David Simmons
Mr P B Isherwood
Mrs J R Keen
Mrs A E Mansell
Mr B G Shelley

For the Tenants’ Panel

Miss P Wright (Vice Chairman)
Mrs I Birch
Mr D Costigan
Mr G Merrony
Mrs C North
Mr R Randle
Mrs J Rawlings

The following apologies for absence were recorded:
Dr M-G Lane
Mrs K Hall



comms/sig/2006-07/091.MTSIG minutes290107.doc