Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board
Wednesday, 11th September, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Town Hall, Scarborough

Contact: Sandip Mahajan 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Members are reminded of the need to consider whether they have a disclosable pecuniary, prejudicial or other (personal) interest to declare in any items on this agenda. Details of any interest must be declared at the start of the meeting or as soon as any interest becomes apparent during the meeting. The attached form must also be completed. Any advice required should ideally be sought before the day of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 3 July 2019.

 

Minutes:

Resolved - That the minutes of the meeting held on 3 July 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. 

 

3.

Public Questions

To consider any public questions submitted, of which due notice has been given, and which are relevant to the business of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Minutes:

There were no public questions received. 

4.

Beyond Housing - first year progress report pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To consider a report by Tracy O’Neill, the Executive Director of Customers & Communities, Beyond Housing on progress made by the organisation in its first year.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Beyond Housing, the social housing provider had been invited to present progress made in its first year of operation, and to outline future plans, since being established in October 2018. This had followed a merger of two local housing providers - Yorkshire Coast Homes which had been based in Scarborough and Coast & Country Housing from Redland & Cleveland.

 

Beyond Housing was represented by its Chair, James Hayward; Chief Executive, Rosemary Du Rose; and Executive Director of Customers and Communities, Tracy O’Neill.

 

Ms Du Rose reported that the merger had involved considerable integration work with 16 projects bringing organisational systems, structures and cultures closer together. She highlighted that Beyond Housing had established very healthy finances which was important in delivering services and priorities including investment going forward over the next five years.

 

Investment of over £30million was for upgrading current homes and community public realms with £5million for new properties. Members noted that there had been a high percentage of stock allocated for the Scarborough district and queried if people were being allocated properties in good time.

 

Ms O’Neill explained that Home Choice, the choice-based lettings scheme which operated across North Yorkshire, was used. Applicants were allocated points based on their circumstances, which included any local connections to Scarborough, and in due course offered an appropriate property. She added that new development planning was based on projected local demand.

 

Members referred to rural housing. They enquired what Beyond Housing’s policy was concerning 2-3 bed bungalows for older people which were not fully occupied and might be more appropriate for young families to help them stay thereby promoting buoyant areas.

 

They were informed that the choice-based lettings scheme helped ensure that people lived in appropriate accommodation but rural accommodation could be hard to let. Wider issues included tackling fuel poverty and promoting energy efficiency and access to services and rural isolation. Housing developments in rural areas were limited to ‘in-fill’ sites (building on existing unused land). 

 

Members asked if sufficient land sites across the borough had been identified and acquired for potential development. They were informed that pursuing viable land opportunities was difficult but Beyond Housing was working with senior officers at the Council and other partners such as North Yorkshire County Council for supported housing opportunities and Homes England.

 

Ms Du Rose referred back to first year progress and that there was around 750 staff who had delivered an excellent performance throughout the transitional phases continuing to work hard to improve services for tenants who had provided positive feedback.

 

Ms O’Neill added that people valued their Scarborough homes as reflected by the higher percentage (86%) of tenancies which lasted over 12 months against a lower percentage in Redcar & Cleveland. It was important to ensure that properties were re-let quickly and did not remain empty for long to help minimise loss of rental income.

 

In response to members expressing concern about tenants incurring rent arrears, Ms O’Neill explained that managing the impact of universal credit was important too with a number of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Developing a Climate Change Action Plan

To receive a presentation by Paul Thompson, Operations, Transport and Countryside Manager on refining the proposed Task Group review scope and next steps for going forward to tackle climate change.

 

Minutes:

Members were informed that following recent changes to senior management, that the proposed item on setting up a task group to work on developing a climate change action plan would be considered in a few weeks at the next meeting on 30 October 2019. This would allow new management time to feed in some ideas and help assist with focusing the work.

 

Members were assured that the importance of environmental sustainability and tackling climate change was recognised following the Climate Change Emergency Motion adopted in January 2019. The current Sustainability Policy had delivered a number of actions and a fresh strategy underpinned by a robust action plan was needed. Recent initiatives included tackling single use plastics and working with local communities and young people to raise awareness and promote environmental activity as well more in-house renewables.

 

Resolved - That taking forward climate change work and actions would be considered at the next meeting on 30 October 2019.

6.

Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme and Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 45 KB

To review the Board’s Work Programme for 2019/20 and the Cabinet Forward Plan.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered its Work Programme for 2019/20 which aimed to be balanced and flexible whilst focusing on significant (and evolving) priorities to achieve the best value-added outcomes.

 

Members were informed that there were three main changes proposed.

 

The Board had, in October 2018, reviewed proposals to introduce a residents’ discounted car parking scheme funded by the introduction of winter charges in some car parks. Members had supported the discounted car parking but had queried the impact of introducing winter charges. They proposed reviewing how well the discount scheme worked before reconsidering winter charges in time for the 2020/21 budget planning round. Cabinet had agreed with this and that a task group would review this as such. Car parking management had since noted a much higher take-up of the residents’ discount pass than expected reducing the full financial pressure. Therefore it was proposed that more value would be added with an update at the Board’s next meeting on 30 October 2019 followed by another update in April 2020. The updates would include details of operational improvements being developed with North Yorkshire County Council.

 

A task group was proposed to review local council tax support. Membership would be decided prior to review work commencing in March 2020. The findings would help inform support options for the 2021/22 financial year. Public consultation was a legal requirement so sufficient review time was needed.

 

The other main change was deferral of the climate change item to the October 2019 meeting.

 

Resolved - That the Work Programme was approved as presented with proposed amendments and noting that further refinement of the programme would take place.

 

 

7.

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Annual Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To consider the report of the Director (Lisa Dixon) (reference 19/106).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were presented with the Board’s draft Annual Report for 2018/19 which profiled O&S’s role and the work undertaken during the year and improvement outcomes achieved for the Council and residents etc. The report also outlined plans and priorities going forward into the current council year, 2019/20. The target audience was all members, officers and stakeholders including the public.

 

Resolved - that the O&S Board’s Annual Report for 2018/19 was approved.

8.

Overview and Scrutiny - Review of Effectiveness pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To consider the report of the Director (Lisa Dixon) (reference 19/107).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were presented with the findings of a short effectiveness review of O&S’ performance and proposed improvement actions. The review had been undertaken prior to the May 2019 elections and mainly comprised of a short survey which sought the views of all members (O&S members, executive decision-makers and non-executive members) in order to identify where O&S had been performing well and operating good practice and where there was scope to make improvements. There had been no significant surprises and most of the proposed work revolved around raising awareness and understanding of O&S, and supporting members’ development. Most of the proposed actions had either been delivered, were being pursued or ongoing. Many of these simply involved training. It was also noted that some of the findings and proposed improvements might be superseded by the current wider review of governance options but any duplication of actions would be avoided.

 

Resolved - that the findings of the Effectiveness Review of Overview and Scrutiny were noted and the proposed action plan endorsed.