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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Council held on 16/10/2001
Community Overview and Scrutiny Report to Council



WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY
COMMITTEE – 10TH SEPTEMBER 2001

REPORT TO THE MEETING OF THE COUNCIL ON 16TH OCTOBER 2001

Note Pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

Item G below contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded. The information is as specified in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 viz:-

Information relating to any particular occupier or former occupier of, or applicant for, accommodation provided by or at the expense of the authority.

PART I – Reports containing recommendations for decision by the Council

PART II – Matters reported in detail for the information of the Council

There are no matters falling within these categories.

PART III – Brief summaries of other matters dealt with

Background Papers

The background papers relating to the following report items are as specified in the agenda for the meeting of your Committee.

A. PROCEDURE FOR MAJOR WORKS TO COUNCIL OWNED GARAGES
[Wards Affected: All]

A.1 Your Committee has considered a report on a standard procedure to identify the most appropriate way to deal with specific problems concerning garage areas on housing estates. Many of the 1,300 plus Council-owned garages have reached a point where it is no longer viable to repair them. Part of the process would include consultation with local tenants and residents on their need for a garage and household parking, whilst firm proposals for a particular garage site would be reported to the residents and to your Committee for comment, before approval by the Executive Committee.

A.2 In the meantime, the proposed course of action for the management and planning for major works to garage areas will be recommended first to the Member/Tenants' Special Interest Group on 24th October and then to the Executive Committee on 13th November. A more detailed report will therefore be contained in the Executive Committee report to Council in December.

B. HOMELESSNESS BILL
[Wards Affected: All]

B.1 Your Committee has received a report on the key points contained in the Homelessness Bill, currently before Parliament, and been advised of the new areas of responsibility to be placed on local authorities. It is expected that the Bill will become law in 2002.

B.2 The Bill will have an impact on the range of people for whom the Council has a housing responsibility. It will require the Council to develop a five year homelessness strategy whilst at the same time present it with an opportunity to be more creative in offering applicants a choice of housing.

B.3 At this stage, it is difficult to assess the resource implications for the Council as a housing authority, but it is likely that there will be additional costs to the General Fund Homelessness Budget, especially if the Council needs to make staff support available at accommodation provided for young people in the 16/17 age range. An inevitable consequence will be an additional workload on staff and pressure on the Council's stock of temporary accommodation.

B.4 Your Committee has conveyed to the Executive Committee, meeting on 9th October, a recommendation that the report on the Homelessness Bill and Order in Council be noted and that this important direction in government policy is borne in mind when housing matters are considered in the future.

C. HOUSING TENURE LAW REVIEW
[Wards Affected: All]

C.1 Your Committee has been advised that the Law Commission is undertaking a major review of tenure law which takes forward a Government commitment in its Housing Green Paper – “Quality and Choice: A Decent Home for All – The Way forward for Housing”. [A report on the Housing Green Paper was presented to your Committee earlier this year and a formal response made by the Council]. The Local Government Association is playing a co-ordinating role.

C.2 The Law Commission’s review will examine:-

increased flexibilities in the system to allow landlords to make better use of their stock; and

extending that commitment to include the private rented sector.

C.3 It is understood that a consultation paper will be issued in early 2002 and the Law Commission is intending to work closely with the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, local authorities and other interested parties.

C.4 Your Committee concurs with the officers that the following matters could usefully be addressed as part of the Law Commission’s review:-

a general consideration of housing law;
speedier possession hearings;

review and appeals procedure for homelessness determinations;


the need to streamline the slow and tortuous Compulsory Purchase Order procedure which is discouraging to local authorities wishing to invoke it.

C.5 A suitable response to the Local Government Association has been made.

D. DELAYED DISCHARGES FROM HOSPITAL – SUPPORTED REHABILITATION
[Wards Affected: All]

D.1 Your Committee has discussed at length a proposal for a "step down" scheme for supporting older people in a low risk category to return home after a stay in hospital. Under such a scheme, a flat/bed-sit in a Sheltered Housing Scheme is made available for use by the Health Service as a unit of accommodation to be used for rehabilitation purposes. They would move a person out of hospital into the flat for a period of up to six weeks with Social Services and the local Health Trust providing care and support services, to assist the person to re-establish confidence and independence prior to returning home. The cost would be met by the Health Service and Social Services, both in terms of rental on the property and the provision of support services.

D.2 Your Committee has generally welcomed the initiative providing there is no extra responsibility placed on the wardens and staff at sheltered units and no financial disbenefit to the Council. It has conveyed a recommendation to the Executive Committee, meeting on 9th October, that the details of a Waverley "Step-Down" Scheme be developed, in partnership with other agencies, and that a further detailed report be submitted for consideration in due course.

E. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – FOUR-MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME
[Wards Affected: N/A]

Your Committee has received and noted the four-month rolling programme of key decisions adopted by the Executive Committee.

F. COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME
[Wards Affected: N/A]

Your Committee has received and noted its updated work programme and been reminded that the Affordable Housing Seminar would be held on 30th October.

G. PROPOSED DISPOSAL OF HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT PROPERTY IN GODALMING
[Ward Affected: Godalming North-West]

Your Committee has considered a report on this matter, contained at (Exempt) Appendix G to its agenda, on a proposal to dispose of a Housing Revenue Account property to a Registered Social Landlord for re-development (see (Exempt) Annexe 1 to this report). The principle of disposal is accepted by your Committee and a further report will be presented to the Executive Committee at its November meeting for final approval. A detailed report will be contained in the Executive Committee report to Council in December.