Top

Top

HOMES AND SAFE COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 6th September, 2017.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson (Chairman); Councillor M.R. Wilson (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, Ms. C.A. Cave, Ms. A.M. Collins, Mrs. S.M. Hanks, Mrs. K.F. McCaffer, M.J.G. Morgan and Mrs. R. Nugent-Finn.

 

Also present: Mr. D. Dutch, Mr. A. Raybould and Ms. H. Smith (Tenant Working Group Representatives).

 

 

230     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor B.T. Gray and Mrs. G. Doyle (Tenant Working Group Representative).

 

 

231     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 12th July, 2017 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

232     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

233     THE YOUTH JUSTICE PLAN 2017/18 (DSS) –

 

The Youth Offending Service (YOS) Manager presented the report, the purpose of which was to inform Committee about the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2017/18. 

 

Section 40 of the 1998 Act placed a duty on the Local Authority to produce an annual Youth Justice Plan, in consultation with its statutory partners.  The Plan confirmed how youth justice services were to be provided and funded, how the teams were established, composed and funded, what functions they were to carry out and how they would operate.  The Plan was submitted to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and published in accordance with directions of the Secretary of State.  This duty was one of the requirements of the terms and conditions of the Youth Justice Grant.  The plan was also structured to provide an overview of changes to governance or service delivery and to incorporate the YOS responses to HM Probation Inspectorate’s thematic inspection reports during 2016/17. 

 

The format of the YOS Youth Justice Plan was determined by the YJB and it had to address the following areas: 

  • Structure and governance;
  • Resources and value for money;
  • Partnership arrangements; and
  • Risks to future delivery. 

The Plan was required to demonstrate how the grant was being used exclusively for the delivery of youth justice services and achieving value for money.  It included performance information, which was validated quarterly and annually by the YJB.  This was a requirement of the terms and conditions of the Grant as it indicated compliance with the YJB Data Recording Guidance.  A copy of the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2017/18 was attached at Appendix 1 to the officer’s report.  

 

There had been no significant changes to the structure or operational functions of the YOS, or the corporate environment within which it operated.  Currently the greatest risks were national uncertainty about the future of youth justice services and their funding arrangements.

 

A review of the Youth Justice System took place in 2015/16.  The terms of reference for the review were to examine the evidence and current practice in preventing youth crime and rehabilitating young offenders, how the system could interact more effectively with wider services for children and young people and whether current arrangements were fit for purpose. 

 

The final Review Report was published in December 2016.  The report acknowledged the success of both the YJB and YOS in formalising partnership working and ensuring that there was a focus on children who offend as children first and offenders second.  Also new approaches were needed to tackle re-offending as a priority nationally across England and Wales.  The report also recognised that the causes of childhood offending needed a multi-agency response and the YOS alone was unable to address all the underlying issues. 

 

The UK Government, in its response to the Review Report, indicated that improvements would be made to the framework within how the Youth Justice System operated.  These improvements would focus on reviewing the governance and performance standards of the Youth Justice System, reviewing how Police dealt with children, the operation of the Court system and the use of Youth Custody. 

 

Developments to date had included the establishment of a Youth Custody Service (an arm of the HM Prison and Probation Service); and responsibility for commissioning and monitoring youth custodial services had moved from the YJB to the Ministry of Justice following the publication of a number of inspection reports raising concerns about standards and safeguarding within the youth secure setting.

 

The Officer also advised that based on reductions in grant funding since 2010, the YOS was anticipating a reduction in the grant funding received from the YJB for 2017/18, however this reduction had not materialised and grant increased by 0.04%.   Although only a small increase of £571, it remained positive that the grant had not reduced as this would have potentially created a deficit in budget.  A breakdown of the YOS budget for 2017/18 was attached at Appendix 3 of the officer’s report.

 

During 2016/17, the YOS Police Officer retired and there was a period of five months where no full time officer was in post.  The budget position for 2016/17 therefore reflected a reduced contribution as it did not cover the full year.  The budget breakdown for 2017/18 now reflected the whole of year contribution from South Wales Police and gave the impression that the budget had increased overall. 

 

A Member asked whether there were custodial houses within the Vale of Glamorgan and the circumstances in which a young person would be housed in that facility. 

 

The YOS Manager confirmed that there were no custodial houses within the Vale.  If a young person were to be subject to a custodial sentence they would be moved to Parc Young Offenders Institute (YOI) in Bridgend or a secure children’s home if they were under the age of 15 and / or vulnerable.  The only secure facilities in Wales were Parc YOI, which forms part of Parc Prison, and Hillside Secure Children’s Home, in Neath Port Talbot.

 

A Member wished to clarify the age group defined under the title “Statutory School Age” and why there was a clear difference between the Vale of Glamorgan and Wales as a whole, along with South Wales with regards to “End Average Hours of Contact Time for Education, Training and Employment”.  The Officer advised that statutory school age was for individuals aged 16 and under and the reason for the statistical difference was due to the number of children within the cohort, the average hours they were offered and attended.  Analysis by the YOS indicated that the number of children was low, some of these children had re-offended and were therefore included within the cohort more than once as subject to different interventions, whilst others had multiple complex issues and had exhausted a number of educational placements.  A report regarding access to Education had been requested by the YOS Management Board for their October 2017 meeting.

 

A Member also queried an impact risk level 2 for the diminishing youth service provision when the likelihood was indicated at level 3.  The Officer advised that funding had been retained for targeted youth service provision.

 

A Member referred to page 32 of the Youth Justice Plan in which it referred to the expansion of local justice areas and merger of Courts and Youth Benches which could decrease Magistrates’ confidence in youth justice services.  As this was a clear risk to the YOS, the Member also referred to the closure of the Magistrates Court at Barry and asked the Officer to share her understanding of how the closure had had an effect on the YOS. 

 

The YOS Manager advised that there had been an obvious impact on the YOS with the closure of the Magistrates Court in Barry, mainly in the fact that young people were required to travel further for legal services.  However, the YOS had no seen an increase in the issuing of warrants for failures to attend Court by children and their parents.  The suggestion that first hearings be conducted online in future was being considered as part of proposed wider reforms of the Court system, however, this was still in discussion and at very early stages. 

 

The Committee agreed, following a Member’s suggestion, that a qualitative report be brought to the Committee on the effect of Court closures for Vale of Glamorgan YOS service users.

 

The staffing structure for the YOS was included in the Officer’s report at Appendix 2.  A Member queried the two full time YOS Officer positions currently vacant.  The YOS Manager confirmed that one of the two posts had been held vacant due to budget constraints and that it was, in her professional opinion, a better course of action to hold the position vacant rather than to have to offer redundancy at a later stage.  The second position had been filled. 

 

With regard to education welfare, a Member asked the Officer to expand on the role of the Education Welfare Officer and the advantages of the role within the YOS. 

 

The Officer confirmed that the Education Welfare Officer would monitor the educational contact time for individuals and the placements available to service users.  Attendance levels would also be followed closely and reports would be compiled on the availability or the lack of availability of suitable placements. 

 

An action outcome within the plan stated eradication of the use of B&B where possible and the identification of options to expand the range of accommodation for service users to move on.  A Member queried the Council’s stance on this outcome to date and the Officer advised that B&B accommodation was currently provided, but on a very short term and emergency basis.  The aim of the Council was not to use that form of accommodation at all. 

 

A Member asked if there were currently any volunteers involved with the work of the YOS to help support the employment structure of the service and, as a supplementary question, if there were any individuals offering a mentoring service for young people using the YOS. 

 

The YOS Manager confirmed that volunteers were currently active in supporting the service, with around 40 individuals involved in conducting restorative meetings between young people and victims of their crimes.  A mentoring service was not in place at the moment but the YOS were looking to collaborate with Cardiff Council in the future to try and establish that type of support for young people. 

 

The performance graph, on page 25 of the plan, displayed the re-offending statistics for the Vale of Glamorgan from January 2011 to June 2015.  2012 saw the highest point of offending within the Vale, which was then followed by a steep decrease in rate but unfortunately had now started to increase again since October 2013.  A Member representing the Tenant Working Group, asked why this was the case. 

 

The Officer advised this was a national pattern.  With the introduction of prevention and diversion services there were fewer children within the Youth Justice System and the young people remaining in the system often had very complex needs.  Also, as the amount of individuals overall had decreased so the statistics were based on lower numbers but with a higher statistical effect.  With more complex needs it was a common pattern for a young person to re-offend quite quickly after entering the service.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Youth Justice Plan 2017/18 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a report on the effect of Court closures for the YOS and its service users be brought to the Committee at a future date.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To meet the statutory requirements of grant terms and conditions provided by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, to achieve continuing improvements in the performance of the YOS and to ensure that Members can exercise oversight of this key area of work for the Council.

 

(2)       That Committee has access to qualitative data to show the effect on the service users for the Vale of Glamorgan YOS. 

 

 

234     YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE: END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR THE PERIOD APRIL 2016 TO MARCH 2017 (DSS) –

 

The Youth Offending Service (YOS) Manager presented the report, the purpose of which was to inform Committee of the performance for the YOS during the period April 2016 to March 2017.

 

An analysis of the performance data was attached at Appendix 1 that highlighted the local performance measures which had been included to provide a greater depth of understanding of performance in specific areas. 

 

The Officer advised that as part of the grant funding terms and conditions, the YOS was required by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) to undertake performance reporting in relation to a number of key performance indicators which were:

 

National (England and Wales) Indicators

  • Reduction in first time entrants
  • Reduction in re-offending
  • Reduction in use of custody. 

Devolved Welsh Indicators

  • Engagement with education, training and employment
  • Access to suitable accommodation
  • Access to substance misuse services. 

Local Performance Indicators (agreed by the Vale YOS Management Board)

  • Re-offending by young people in the Youth Justice System
  • Re-offending by young people starting a diversion intervention
  • Number of victims participating in direct restorative justice (statutory orders and Triage diversion). 

Due to the YJB validating data before circulation, the performance reporting by the YOS was always approximately one quarter behind. 

 

The performance data for First Time Entrants to the Youth Justice System (WYJI 1) was for the 12 months from January to December 2016.  Performance reflected a 20% decrease when comparing January to December 2015.  According to the YJB and Police National Computer (PNC) information, this reflected a total of 34 children who entered the Youth Justice System during the period.  PNC data was used to inform this performance measure so the YOS was currently unable to verify the information.  The Council’s own internal reporting showed a 9% decrease with 39 children in its local cohort.

 

A reduction in re-offending (WYJI 2) continued to be a key priority for the YOS.  The information presented in Appendix 1 to the report, produced by the YJB, showed an increase in the binary rate (number of young people re-offending) from 41.9% to 43.6% when comparing July 2013 to June 2014 against July 2014 to June 2015.  The frequency rate of re-offending (number of re-offences committed by young people) for the same period demonstrated an increase from 2.50 to 3.38.

 

It was important to note that the YJB performance data was always approximately 18 months behind.  Local performance information in relation to re-offending showed that both the number of young people offending and the number of re-offences had risen; 12 of the 15 young people tracked had re-offended committing a total of 65 offences.  The increase in re-offending could be seen across both Triage diversion and YOS statutory cases.

 

Appendix 1 also contained additional information to provide an insight into the complex needs of young people within the Youth Justice System and the range of interventions provided by the YOS and its partners to try and address the underlying causes of offending.

 

On this matter, a Member asked the Officer for clarification on the terms SAVRY and Triage. 

 

The Officer advised that SAVRY stood for Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth and that the research from SAVRY was used to identify earlier those young people likely to commit further violent offences.  Triage was the name of the diversion service operating in Cardiff Bay Police Custody Suite, which included a restorative intervention process between the young person and the victim of their crime, where appropriate.  The young person would need to meet certain criteria, i.e. have committee low level offending, admit guilt and be willing to engage in a restorative intervention to be accepted onto the Triage programme and the programme was a collaboration between the South Wales Police, the Vale of Glamorgan YOS and the Cardiff YOS. 

 

The YOS in the Vale continued to have a low custodial rate (WYJI 3) during 2016/17, with one custodial disposal imposed due to the seriousness of the offence.  When comparing custodial disposals for 2015/16 the YOS had three disposals compared to six in 2014/15.  This demonstrated custody was used as a last resort.

 

In respect of engagement in education, training and employment, (WYJI 4) the indicator had changed and now reflected the number of education hours a young person had been offered; alongside the number of hours the young person attended the provision.  The information enabled stakeholders to identify if performance was being affected by a lack of suitable provision or if there were attendance issues which needed to be addressed. 

 

Data provided by the YJB indicated that during the year to date, young people of statutory school age were offered an average 19.7 hours at the start of their intervention, this decreased over time and ended on an average of 15.6 hours.  The average hours attended by young people was less at 15.7 hours at the start and 11.2 at the end, all below the recommended 25 hours.

 

Young people above statutory school age were also offered and attended less than the recommended 16 hours provision, with the average hours being attended at the start as 5.3 and at the end 8.  Despite a positive improvement in above statutory school age provision, concerns had been raised that there had been no increase in the average number of hours for school age children since 2014/15.

 

Further analysis by the YOS indicated that the number of children was low, some of these children had re-offended and were therefore included within the cohort more than once as subject to different interventions, whilst others had multiple complex issues and had exhausted a number of educational placements.

 

Performance in relation to Education, Training and Employment was based on outcomes when the YOS intervention ended.  The YOS Management Board had expressed concerns regarding performance in this area.  As a result the YOS was working with Education colleagues to identify the current educational placement of open and active cases in an attempt to get ahead of the curve and provide further information for discussion by the YOS Management Board in their October 2017 meeting to try and address this area of underperformance.  

 

A Member referred to the statement of educational placements referred to in the Officer’s report and queried whether the placements were being arranged within educational establishments just for further education.   The Officer confirmed that placements were sought in further education establishments and from voluntary and private sector establishments. 

 

As a supplementary question, the Member queried the success of this process to date.  The Officer confirmed that the process had highlighted the fact that young people needed additional support before being able to take up a placement and this had become a common theme. 

 

Regarding access to suitable accommodation (WYJI 5), performance continued to be positive; 52 young people had a closed community based penalty and 49 (94%) were in suitable accommodation at the end of their interventions.  Three young people ended a custodial sentence; all were in suitable accommodation at the start but only two at the end of their licence period.  Due to the low numbers this reflected a 33% decrease.

 

Performance in respect of access to appropriate support for substance misuse difficulties (WYJI 6) demonstrated the majority of young people referred continued to engage in assessment and treatment, 32 children were referred with 22 engaging within five working days (78%).  Of the 28 assessed as requiring treatment, 28 (100%) accessed this within 10 working days.

 

Improvement in the access to mental health services, (WYJI 7) was a key strategic aim of the Welsh Government / YJB Children and Young People First Strategy.  The measure had been revised and identified if young people were appropriately screened within 28 working days of their referral date and where appropriate, received a mental health assessment within 28 working days of screening.

 

During 2016/17, 16 children were referred for a mental health assessment, 14 received this assessment within 28 days (88%); 12 young people required treatment and 9 received that treatment within 28 days (75%).

 

A Member addressed the small numbers of young people who had not received treatment following a mental health assessment within the 28 days, 3 of 12 young people requiring treatment, and asked for advice on how this would be improved on the future.

 

The Officer advised that the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board commissioned mental health services and provided a Specialist Nurse who was able to make referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for the YOS and, once referred, the young person would be put on a waiting list.  The Welsh Government was treating access to mental health services as a priority and was currently conducting an inquiry into the emotional and mental health of children and young people in Wales.  The Welsh Government had provided additional funding to expand the range of health services and the Inquiry was designed to identify whether this additional funding had impacted on access to services.  The Council would be providing a written submission to this Inquiry. 

 

As a supplementary question, the Member queried whether the funding provided would need to be divided across different health issues and not just mental health, to which the Officer confirmed that that was correct.  The Officer then went on to advise that the YOS did not currently have a specific mental health nurse, however the nurse who was in appointment had mental health training and was able to make appropriate referral of young people to the CAMHS service. 

 

In relation to funding, the YOS Manager advised Members that performance achieved was within allocated resources and Members should be aware that the YJB grant for 2017/18 had been confirmed with a 0.04% increase which reflected an additional £571.

 

The Chairman thanked the Officer for her detailed report and requested that for future Committee meetings the graph images be produced in a much larger format.  The Chairman appreciated that the information within the graphs was very interesting and crucial to the Members’ understanding so a larger format of the graphs would be much appreciated.

 

Having considered the report, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance of the Youth Offending Service during the period April 2016 to March 2017 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that elected Members are able to exercise effective oversight of the Youth Offending Service Performance against designed indicators (UK, devolved and local).

 

 

235     QUARTER 1 (2017-18) PERFORMANCE REPORT: AN INCLUSIVE AND SAFE VALE (DEH) –

 

The Director of Environment and Housing presented the report, the purpose of which was to present the performance results for Quarter 1, 1st April to 30th June, 2017 in relation to the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 1, “An Inclusive and Safe Vale” and its two objectives: 

  • reducing poverty and social inclusion; and
  • providing decent homes and safer communities.  

The Director advised that the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 outlined seven well-being goals which Local Authorities needed to strive to achieve.  Therefore, the Council had produced its Corporate Plan which contained four well-being Outcomes and eight well-being Objectives.  The new approach required significant cross-Directorate working which meant that officers from many different service areas had responsibility for each individual Outcome and its Objective(s). 

 

Section 1 of the report was an outcome summary of performance and highlighted the main developments, achievements and challenges for the quarter as a whole.  The Director advised that for Well-being Outcome 1 there were 16 Corporate Plan actions and good progress had been made overall in relation to all Corporate Plan actions throughout the quarter.  Therefore, a Green RAG status had been attributed to progress made in relation to delivery of the planned activities associated with the 16 Corporate Plan actions.  Across the entire Outcome, one service plan action was given a Red status (HS/A042).  This was due to long term sickness absence which had impacted on the ability to progress the review and an update of the Council’s housing market assessment.  The Director advised that once staffing levels had resumed, the assessment would be prioritised.

 

An overall Green RAG status had been attributed to Well-being Outcome 1, An Inclusive and Safe Vale, reflecting the positive progress made to date in making a difference to the lives of residents and customers within a highly challenging environment. 

 

The Director advised that an overall Green RAG performance status had been attributed to the quarterly measures reported against this Outcome.  Five out of seven indicators reported under the well-being Outcome exceeded their Quarter 1 target.  The five indicators exceeding their targets related to: 

  • The percentage of customers satisfied with access to services across all channels
  • Total subscribers to Vale Connect
  • Number of individuals in receipt of Universal Credit
  • Average working days to let an empty property
  • The percentage of domestic abuse victims that report they feel safer as a result of target hardening. 

There were two indicators where performance was within 10% of target (Amber).  These related to the average number of calendar days to deliver a Disabled Facilities Grant and the percentage of housing stock where work meets the WHQS Standard having been completed. 

 

The Director highlighted the excellent progress made with regard to the performance indicator CPM/010: Average Number of Working Days to let an Empty Property (standard condition) (Housemark).  The performance had improved significantly from the same period last year (39.7 days) to 17.3 average days due to the changes in processes.  It was anticipated that this would continue throughout the year and there had been a change in working practices for tradesmen, and a change in roles for some of the maintenance officers.  There had also been a better use of contract labour.  There had been an obvious issue with the cost of void properties remaining empty, however the turnaround period had significantly decreased and the properties were being turned around to a much higher standard. 

 

Whilst referring to Service Plan action RP/A051: Work with the Cardiff Capital Region to Increase Supply of Affordable Housing in the Vale of Glamorgan, a Member referred to the outcome description whereby officers regularly attend the Cardiff Capital Region Housing Themed sub-group to represent the Vale of Glamorgan in the Region.  The Member queried with the officers the themes and issues discussed by this group and whether the content of the meetings could be shared with the Committee.  The officers present were not in attendance at the latest sub-group meeting but would share a copy of the minutes with the Democratic Services Officer who would, in turn, share that with the Committee Members.

 

A Member shared his concern with regard to the increasing number of days it would take to deliver a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) due to delays in redirecting clients from the Contact 1 Vale contact centre (C1V).  As a consequence of changes in the recording methodology, as directed by the Welsh Government, the timeframe for delivering a DFG was counted from the point that the enquiry was received by C1V.  In addition to this, the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) Service moved to the Tascomi database which impacted on the pre-existing database that was used to hold DFG information. 

 

The Director advised that this was not the start of a negative pattern and the DFG service had now given notice to the provider and would be reviewing all options to identify and implement an alternative database during the next quarter.  The Director also confirmed that a report on DFGs would be brought to the Committee at a future date to demonstrate the current position and future expectations for this service. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the performance results and progress towards achieving key outcomes in line with the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 1: “Citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan have a good quality of life and feel part of the local community” be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address areas of underperformance and to tackle the key challenges identified be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council clearly demonstrates the progress being made towards achieving its Corporate Plan well-being Outcomes aimed at making a positive difference to the lives of Vale of Glamorgan citizens.

 

(2)       To ensure the Council was effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measures (Wales) 2009 and reflecting the requirement of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act that it maximises its contribution to achieving the well-being goals for Wales.

 

 

236     ENVIRONMENT AND NEIGHBOURHOODS STRATEGY (HOUSING) – SIX MONTHLY MONITORING REPORT (DEH) –

 

The Director of Environment and Housing presented the report to update the Committee on progress implementing the Environment and Neighbourhoods Strategy (Housing).  The Strategy was approved by Cabinet in February 2017 and incorporated feedback from the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee.  One of the recommendations was to provide six monthly monitoring reports to the Committee that highlighted progress against the actions identified.   

 

There had been significant progress with implementation and the majority of actions were either complete or on target to be completed by the target date.  The operational delivery plan was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and categorised the actions under the four objectives: 

  • Objective 1: Increasing safety of residents and homes
  • Objective 2: Improving the appearance and cleanliness of the community environment
  • Objective 3: Increasing opportunities to access open spaces
  • Objective 4: Increasing community engagement and residents’ pride in their area. 

The RAG classification (Red, Amber and Green) had been used to highlight the progress against each action.  Out of 32 action points only 6 were highlighted as Amber and therefore actions at risk of missing target with only 1 action highlighted as Red to demonstrate that the target had been missed or very likely to be missed.

 

Amber Actions: 

  • Encourage tenants to take part in estate walkabouts, including consideration of incentives
  • Identify hotspots for rubbish dumping and use CCTV to identify perpetrators
  • Undertake resident consultation regarding specific plots of green space to identify possible uses
  • Prepare a business case for the development of a community garden at Margaret Avenue, Colcot
  • Develop two pilot projects to bring unused areas of land into use by local community
  • Establish links with range of agencies e.g. Keep Wales Tidy, Ground Works Trust and develop a toolkit to support environmental projects. 

Red Action: 

  • Promote estate budgets to residents and support tenants to develop projects and secure funding. 

The Director advised that the strategy would be delivered over an 18 month programme and that a key element of the strategy was about targeting large sums of capital investment into a smaller number of areas in order to maximise the impact and to this end the Buttrills Estate in central Barry that would benefit a great deal from significant estate improvement works.  To date, a number of consultation events had been undertaken with residents in order to identify priorities;  these included drop-in events, meetings with residents, surveys and door knocking.  The consultation helped identify priorities and these had been used to inform a programme of works, which included changes to the layout of the estate, improved parking, fencing, CCTV coverage as well as upgrades to communal areas and the exteriors of the buildings. 

 

The physical appearance of estates was also identified as a priority in the strategy and progress had been made developing a photobook, which was a set of agreed environmental standards which were being used to grade the quality of estates and drive improvements.  Regular estate walkabouts were also an important part of improving standards and a more formal programme of walkabouts was now scheduled so that tenants had the opportunity to take part or engage with their Neighbourhood Manager when they were on site.

 

A number of community “helping hand” events had taken place as part of the initiatives to improve the appearance of estates.  These had involved tenants, contractors and partner agencies and had been very well received.  At Llantwit Major a rubbish amnesty resulted in the removal of a large amount of rubbish and household items which had been building up in homes, outhouses and gardens.  The events had been an effective means of raising the profile of the Neighbourhood teams and enabled staff to establish themselves as a key point of contact and build relationships with the tenants.  A toolkit for running these events had been developed and would improve the success of future events in different areas.

 

Another important element of the strategy was estate action planning.  The development of tailored action plans that picked up local issues and priorities was underway and a template action plan had been developed which would be rolled out across different areas.

 

There was still progress to be made with regard to a number of issues including making the best use of open spaces on Council estates.  There were significant tracts of land on some Council estates and these were not often used for the benefit of the community.  As a consequence, over the next few months staff would be identifying a small number of pilot sites and would seek to engage the community in how they would like to see the space used.  The Director advised that this approach would not require large sums of investment and very often involved small initiatives, including benches or some signage, that would result in changes to the way the land was used.

 

Finally, there were still some changes to be made regarding the use of the smaller pot of revenue money for estate improvements.  There were some good examples of this fund being used to make improvements to recycling and rubbish disposal at blocks of flats, however there was scope for further publicity of this funding so tenant groups across the Vale could make applications for creative solutions in their area.

 

With regard to the operational delivery action point “Encourage tenants to take part in estate walkabouts, including consideration of incentives”, a Member suggested that officers may wish to consider recruiting local residents to complete this exercise but in an area that was not their own local area.  This would promote a fresh look at works that were required for the environment without pre-existing ideas. 

 

The Operational Manager for Public Housing Services thanked the Member for the suggestion and informed Committee that the Tenant Engagement Association (TEA) was working with the Housing and Strategic Projects Team Leader who would be happy to pass on the Member’s suggestion to the TEA.

 

A Member also raised a concern with regard to promoting recycling and the reduction of waste within
families that were living in much smaller accommodation that did not provide sufficient space to recycle. 

 

The Director of Environment and Housing confirmed that the Vale of Glamorgan was currently operating at a 65% recycling rate.  Changes were needed in the future to raise that percentage to 70% of waste recycled.  The Director acknowledged that there had been problems with recycling and waste disposal in terraced and flat style properties and a strategy on how to increase the percentage would be developed in the new year.  Research was currently underway to consider community based schemes of collecting recycling and for local residents to take a more proactive role in recycling waste themselves. 

 

The action point labelled “Research scope for a garden service to assist disabled or elderly tenants” had been labelled as “not due” until May 2018.  A Member queried why this was the case, especially when the service used to be provided by the Council.  The Director confirmed that the Council used to provide the service and it was subsequently withdrawn due to it proving very expensive to provide.  As an alternative, the Director advised that discussions were taking place about a tenant reward scheme which would increase volunteer activity and provide individuals with experience that would help to remove barriers into employment and out of poverty.  How the tenant reward scheme would be rewarded was yet to be established.  Providing the service through the private sector would prove better value for money and would also enable local residents to engage more with the works taking place around their properties.

 

A Member queried the “ongoing” label for action point “Record the estate gradings as part of performance reporting and target improvements on estates with lower gradings”.  The Operational Manager for Public Housing Services advised that works had begun on gathering the photographic evidence to help establish a grading structure which would be provided to the Committee, in graphical form, at a later date.  Works following the completion of the estate gradings would therefore also take place later in the calendar year and would be considered on a neighbourhood basis. 

 

Significant financial support had been set aside to deliver the objectives in the Strategy. This included provision of a £2m budget for environmental and estate improvement works each year over the course of the next three years (which formed part of the Council's WHQS investment commitments).  Revenue budget had also been set aside to fund two Community Investment and Involvement Officer posts to take the lead in community engagement and drive a range of environmental improvements.  Lastly, participatory budgets of £60,000 p.a. had been set aside to fund smaller scale estate and environmental improvements identified by local residents and groups.

 

With regard to the two Community Investment and Involvement Officer posts, a Member asked for the timescales for advertising and filling these posts. 

 

The Operational Manager for Public Housing Services advised that officers were already in post and had been since April 2017.  The Committee agreed on the officer’s advice that a report on the Community Investment and Involvement Officer roles and their work, including outcomes that the Council had already achieved around these roles, be brought to Committee. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the six monthly monitoring report in relation to the Operational Delivery Plan (Appendix 1) for the Environment and Neighbourhoods Strategy (Housing) be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a report detailing estate gradings and improvement works to be planned in the future following neighbourhood feedback be presented to Committee at a later date.

 

(3)       T H A T a report on the remit of the Community Investment and Involvement Officer posts and the expected outcomes through the officers’ work be brought to the Committee at a future date.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that the external environment on public housing estates is maintained to a good standard and is utilised by members of the local community, also to provide an opportunity for Scrutiny Committee to make any comments and ensure the actions identified are progressed.

 

(2)       To update Committee on the progress made around the strategy action point.

 

(3)       To inform Committee of progress made through the staffing roles and to highlight any progress through the work of the officers going forward.

 

 

237     SCRUTINY COMMITTEES’ DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT MAY 2016 TO APRIL 2017 (MD) –

 

The Scrutiny Support Officer presented the report to Committee for their consideration and approval of the Scrutiny Committees’ draft 2016/17 Annual Report. 

 

In accordance with Section 7.4.4 of the Council’s Constitution, Scrutiny Committees must report annually to Full Council on their workings, specifically in relation to the Council agreement that the work of Scrutiny should be closely aligned to four wellbeing outcomes and their objectives that formed the main basis of the Council’s new Corporate Plan which was published in April 2016.  The draft Annual Report attached at Appendix A to the report detailed the role of Scrutiny, how Scrutiny was undertaken in the Vale of Glamorgan and highlighted key achievements from the work of each Scrutiny Committee, significant events during the year and future working.

 

In considering the draft Annual Report, Members were requested to refer specifically to the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee section and to make any amendments or suggestions as appropriate.

 

The Officer advised that that the Annual Report would subsequently be submitted to Full Council in September 2017 and then would be made available on the Council’s website.  For information, Members were also advised that the Annual Report was only reported to Council as opposed to it requiring actual approval. 

 

The Committee, in considering the Annual Report, agreed that further detail was required under the Public Engagement section on page 14 of the draft document.  Further details were required to ensure that members of the public were aware that there were several methods available to them to bring matters to the Committee’s attention such as registering to speak, providing written representation and / or contacting Members directly which could, in turn, start a “Request for Consideration” or “call-in” process. 

 

The amended section, including the Committee’s feedback would be as follows:

 

Public Engagement

 

Arrangements for public speaking at meetings of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees have been in place since February 2016.  These are designed to enhance / increase opportunities for public participation in the Council’s democratic processes.  It is acknowledged that there is a need to increase the promotion of the process through publicity and officers from Democratic and Scrutiny Services would work with the Communications Unit on this aspect. 

 

A Member of the public may register to speak at any of the five Scrutiny Committees.  Registration can be completed online or by calling the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section.  A Guide to Public Speaking at Scrutiny Meetings has been made available to members of the public via the Council’s website and can be found at:

http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/en/our_council/Council-Structure/Public-Participation-at-Council-Meetings.aspx

 

Members of the public are also welcome to submit written representations to the Committee that can be included on the agenda for the forthcoming Committee meeting.

 

Matters can also be discussed with Scrutiny Committee Members by contacting them directly.  Councillors are able to submit a “Request for Consideration” and / or “call-in” a decision made by the Cabinet that would result in the matter being considered by the appropriate Scrutiny Committee.  Contact details for the Vale of Glamorgan Councillors can be found on the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s website at:

http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/en/our_council/Council-Structure/councillors/Councillor-Search.aspx

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the draft Annual Report for the period May 2016 to April 2017, subject to any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman, and that the report be submitted to Full Council in September 2017, be approved.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To approve the draft Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Report to allow it to be submitted to Full Council in September 2017.

 

 

238     1ST QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND UPDATE WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2017/18 (MD) –

 

Members were advised of progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations and were asked to confirm the work programme schedule for 2017/18. 

 

Following a suggestion from the Director of Environment and Housing, the Committee agreed that a six monthly update report on the operational work plan for the Civil Protection Unit be added to the forward work programme for the Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the status of actions listed in Appendix A be approved.

 

14 June 2017

 

Min. No. 52 – Introduction   to the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee – Recommended that the   officers be thanked for a comprehensive presentation and the presentation be   noted and uploaded to the Council’s website.

Presentation uploaded to   the Council’s website on 15th June, 2017.

Completed

Min. No. 53 –  4th Quarter Decision Tracking   and Work Programme 2017/18 (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the Work Programme Schedule attached   at Appendix C of the report be amended as outlined above and uploaded to the   Council’s website.

[The six monthly report   on Community Safety have the Traffic Management TFG label removed to align   more appropriately with the remit of the Committee]

Work programme amended and   uploaded to the Council’s website.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the status of the actions listed in Appendix B be changed from “Ongoing” to “Completed” and approved.

 

12 October 2016

Min. No. 447 – Revenue and Capital Monitoring for   the Period 1st April to 31st August 2016 (DEH) – Recommended

(2)   That a site visit be arranged to the new   service at Long Meadow when the facility was up and running.

The Operational Manager for   Housing confirmed that the facility would be appropriate for visitors shortly   and an invite would be extended to Members on Friday 29th   September 2017.

Completed

15 February 2017

Min. No. 813 – Youth   Justice Plan 2016/17 (DSS) – Recommended

(2)   That the Ministry of Justice be informed   of the Committee’s concerns in relation to the recommendation that   responsibility for the Youth Justice System be devolved to Local Authorities,   particularly in light of the reduction of grants; and that the content of the   letter be approved by the Chairman of the Committee.

YOS Manager has been   emailed to draft letter for approval by the Chairman.

 

At its meeting on 14th   June, 2017 Committee was advised that a letter was sent on 4th   April, 2017 but there was no response received to date.

 

The Committee agreed that a   response was still required and requested that a further letter be sent, for   response, ahead of the next Committee meeting.

 

A second letter was sent to   Deputy Director of Youth Justice on 23rd June, 2017.  Still awaiting a response.

Completed

 

(3)        T H A T the work programme schedule attached at Appendix C to the report be approved and uploaded to the Council’s website once including the six monthly report from the Civil Protection Unit.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.

 

(3)       For information.