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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 13th February, 2013.

 

Present: Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. C.L. Curtis (Vice-Chairman); Councillors J. Drysdale, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Mrs. A.J. Moore, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.P. Thomas, A.C. Williams and E. Williams.

 

Also present: Messrs. G. Amos, J. Farrington and B. Fisher (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

857     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor R.J. Bertin.

 

 

858     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 16th January, 2013 be approved as a correct record, subject to Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson being included as a Member also present.

 

 

859     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

860     YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE – SIX MONTHLY PERFORMANCE REPORT (DSS) –

 

The report sought to apprise the Committee as to how the Council’s Youth Offending Service (YOS) was performing against the three national and three devolved performance indicators.

 

As part of its terms and conditions of grant from the Youth Justice Board (YJB), the Council’s YOS was required to report its performance in relation to a number of key indicators, three of which related to England and Wales and three of which related to Wales only as devolved services. 

 

The Committee was informed of those performance indicators which were required to be reported on a quarterly and annual basis and related to the following:

 

·         National Indicator: Reduction in First Time Entrants

·         National Indicator: Reduction in Re-offending

·         National Indicator: Reduction in Use of Custody

·         Devolved Welsh Indicator WYJI 4: Engagement in education, training and employment for young people in youth justice system

·         Devolved Welsh Indicator WYJI 5: Access to suitable accommodation for young people in the youth justice system

·         Devolved Welsh Indicator WYJI 6: Access to substance misuse services for young people in the youth justice system.

 

An explanation / definition for each of the above indicators was set out in the report.

 

Attached at Appendix A to the report was the YJB report in respect of the Council’s performance in comparison to South Wales and All Wales performance.  Also attached at Appendix B was a detailed explanation of four of the performance indicators which reflected the change in performance over the six monthly reporting period.  The two remaining indicators in respect of First Time Entrants and Reoffending were updated on an annual basis.

 

The Committee was informed that the full year’s performance would be presented in July 2013, with it being acknowledged that performance reporting by the service would always be approximately one quarter behind due to the need for the YJB to validate relevant data.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the six monthly performance report for the period April to September 2012 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow the Committee to monitor and review performance against the three national and three devolved performance indicators.

 

 

861     COMMUNITY SAFETY PERFORMANCE MONITORING (DDS) –

 

The Committee was apprised of progress made towards achieving strategic community safety cumulative targets for the second quarter of 2012/13. 

 

The following identified those 2012/13 targets that had been achieved (up to quarter 2):

 

·         Serious Sexual Offences: target 36, actual 35 (achieved 3% under target)

·         Domestic Abuse Repeat Victims: target 9%, actual 3.1% (achieved 66% under target – actual number of victims 60)

·         Criminal Damage: target 660, actual 606 (achieved 8.2% under target)

·         Antisocial Behaviour: on target. 

 

The undermentioned table provided a breakdown of numbers between the ASB stages by young people and over 18s – quarter 2 cumulative totals:

 

Stage

Under 18s

Over 18s

Total

Stage 1 (first time letters issued)

133

250

383

Stage 2 (visits undertaken)

42

65

107

Stage 3 (ABCs issued)

6

7

13

Stage 4 (ASBO)

1

0

1

 

·         Engagement: number of Safer Vale messages sent out to the community: target 20, actual 50 (achieved 75% of target)

·         Number of Safer Vale Press Releases: target 50, actual 56 (achieved 12% over target)

·         Priority and Prolific Offenders (PPOs) / Integrated Offender Management (IOM): performance information as reported to the Committee at its meeting held on 16th January 2013

·         Substance Misuse: ongoing – strategic responsibility for Substance Misuse now came under the Area Planning Board (APB) for Cardiff and the Vale.  The Head of Substance Misuse Strategy and Development had, during the current quarter, commenced work on a Service Review which would take account of how all services across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan operated with the purpose of identifying gaps in provision and would inform a wider Commissioning Strategy which would be released in draft format early in 2013.  In addition, work was underway on developing and finalising a Performance Management Framework in relation to Substance Misuse with a number of headline indicators under six strategic themes, namely:

-         Education and Prevention

-         Treatment and Support for Adults

-         Treatment and Support for Children and Young People

-         Crime and Criminal Justice

-         Communities, Population Trends and Service Users.

 

This framework was currently under consultation and baseline data was being collated from across the region.

 

A brief explanation was provided by the Head of Service in respect of information / data that was used to set targets, much of which was agreed in consultation with the Police.  In referring to the general issue of ASBOs, the Committee expressed concern that the successes achieved in reducing antisocial behaviour was not given sufficient prominence in the local media and accordingly, it was likely that the public were unaware of these achievements.  The Head of Service was requested to address this matter and ensure appropriate media coverage was obtained so that the fear of crime was reduced.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress in performance to date in regard to Quarter 2 for Community Safety targets 2012/13 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the draft Cardiff and Vale Substance Misuse Performance Management Framework and regional baseline data be the subject of a further report to the Scrutiny Committee as soon as it became available.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the Committee’s responsibility for monitoring progress towards the crime and disorder targets.

 

(2)       To allow the Committee to comment on the draft framework prior to it being finalised.

 

 

862     VALE OF GLAMORGAN YOUNG PERSONS’ SUBSTANCE MISUSE CONSULTATION REPORT (2011) (DDS) –

 

The Committee was apprised of the results from the above survey and to advise on how the evidence collated would be used to inform future service delivery.

 

The consultation exercise targeted 11-18 year olds in every electoral ward in the Vale of Glamorgan and received in total over 650 responses from young people.  It was noted that the highest number of responses came from Llantwit Major, Gibbonsdown, Buttrills and Cadoc electoral wards.  A full breakdown of details of the findings of the report could be accessed online and an executive report was attached at Appendix 1.  In addition, the views of 50 staff members were also gathered and included Statutory and Voluntary Youth Services as well as housing and community safety workers. 

 

Of those surveyed, 79% of young people claimed to have a good understanding of alcohol and its associated risks.  In relation to drugs, 83% of young people claimed that they had a good awareness of drug use and the dangers associated with it.  Amongst staff interviewed, there was evidence of a lack of confidence or knowledge of what services were available. 

 

In 2011/12 a further exercise was undertaken to feedback the results of the survey to young people, in line with European legislation.  The findings of the report had been used as evidence to inform the commissioning of a Tier 2 Young Persons’ Drug and Alcohol Service across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.  Free training had been offered via Public health Wales in Alcohol Brief Interventions, this would meet the needs of young people as identified by the survey via the “Have a Word” Campaign.  Communities First in the Vale of Glamorgan utilised the information within the report to design a video, the Impact Project, in relation to alcohol misuse amongst under 18s.

 

The Substance Misuse Education and Advice Service, this was currently commissioned via Cardiff Substance Misuse Action Fund, and was to spread its work into the Vale, ensuring that Youth Workers and those employed by Education were aware of how to identify substance misuse related issues.  The results of the survey had been shared with Trading Standards and Licensing partners to inform Test Purchasing operations.  It was anticipated that the commissioning of Tier 2 Substance Misuse Service should result in a reduction in antisocial behaviour and alcohol related crime.

 

The Committee expressed concern in regard to the high percentage of those surveyed who indicated that they had obtained alcohol from family and friends (55%).  The Committee also considered that it was important that the information contained within the report was made available to all PACTS in the Vale of Glamorgan and all Town and Community Councils to ensure that they were aware of the referral services that were available for alcohol and drug abuse.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the findings of the Vale of Glamorgan Young Persons’ Substance Misuse Consultation Report (2011) be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Public Protection be requested to forward copies of the report and related information to all PACTS and Town and Community Councils in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that the evidence collated would be used to inform future service delivery.

 

(2)       To raise awareness of the issues contained within the report and to highlight the availability of referral services for alcohol and drug abuse.

 

 

863     UPDATE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EMPTY PROPERTY STRATEGY (DDS) –

 

The above Strategy, included the action plan detailing how the Strategy would be implemented to address empty properties in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The action plan (as attached at Appendix 1) included details of progress against each action to the end of the quarter 3 2012/13.  Committee noted that following the adoption of the Strategy a temporary post was filled in November 2012 enabling the officer to work full time on implementing the Strategy.  All known properties had been inputted into a specific data base to enable better information management on these known empty properties.  In total 697 property records had been generated.  In addition to this exercise, an empty property questionnaire had also been sent out to owners of all known empty properties to establish why the properties were left empty and what assistance owners may want to help them return the properties back into use.  Completed questionnaires were still being received therefore analysis of the data had been delayed to quarter 4 to enable as much information as possible to be captured.

 

Risk assessments of known empty properties had also begun during December 2012 and to date 15% of the properties had been assessed and scored.  It was anticipated that this process would take a further 3-4 months to complete but would provide clear information on properties that the Council should target with advice and enforcement action where appropriate.

 

In addition to the above, considerable work had been undertaken on implementing the Welsh Government’s Houses into Homes Loan Scheme.  In November 2012, the Council entered into a Collaborative Agreement with Cardiff City Council to work jointly to promote the loan scheme.  To mid January 2013,  52 enquires had been received from owners interested in the loan scheme and applications had been sent to all.  From this contact, it was anticipated that at least 6 owners would complete and return application packs that would enable the Council to draw down Welsh Government funding and process the loan approvals.  However, since the report had been prepared five completed applications had been received.

 

Discussion ensued regarding the undertaking of risk assessments of empty properties, the resources available to undertake the same, legal powers available to the Council to bring about improvements to empty properties which were impacting adversely on the local community, prioritising risk assessments in known areas where there was a shortage of suitable rented accommodation and affected properties that were of architectural / historic interest.  Brief discussion also touched upon some of the possible reasons why properties were left empty and why some became dilapidated.

 

The closing date to draw down Welsh Government funding for the Scheme was the end of March 2013.  Accordingly, to make the most of this opportunity, resources had been concentrated on progressing the Scheme in addition to building the basic knowledge database.  As a result, some of the actions within the action plan had been delayed and the finish date amended.

 

On a separate but related matter, the Committee also noted that officers had also submitted a bid for Community Innovation Grant funding linked to targeting empty properties in the Castleland Renewal Area.  However, this bid had not been successful. 

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress made on implementing the Empty Homes Strategy over the previous six months be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T appropriate information relating to the database of all known empty properties be subject of a further report by the Head of Public Protection to the Scrutiny Committee as soon as practicable.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of progress made to date in delivering the Strategy.

 

(2)       To allow the Scrutiny Committee to review available information regarding the number and location of empty properties within the Vale of Glamorgan by post code.

 

(3)       To allow Cabinet to consider the issues arising.

 

 

864     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT – NATIONAL STRATEGIC INDICATORS, PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURES, SERVICE IMPROVEMENT DATA (MD) –

 

The report sought to apprise the committee of the annual performance results in the areas of private sector renewal, public protection and homelessness and housing advice for the year ending 31st March 2012.  Appendix 1 to the report contained a summary of the Council’s performance against national indicators for the year ending 2011/12 in respect of the areas indicated above.

 

The Committee was informed of the following performance:

 

·         5 indicators achieved a top quartile performance, ranked between 1st and 5th  when compared with the rest of Wales.

·         4 indicators achieved a performance within the middle quartiles, ranked between 12th and 16th when compared with other Welsh councils.

·         12 indicators were in the bottom quartile of performance, ranked between 13th (of 16) and 21st in Wales.

·         Of the 21 total indicators, the Vale performed better than, or as well as the Welsh average in 6.

·         Of the 6 homelessness and housing advice indicators, 2 were in the middle quartiles and 4 were in the bottom quartile. One of these was recorded as the worst performance in Wales, ranking 20th of 20 councils who returned data (HHA/017a - The average number of days that all homeless households spent in bed and breakfast accommodation).

·         Of the 6 private sector renewal indicators, 1 was in the top quartile, 1 in the middle quartiles, and 4 were in the bottom quartile. One of these was recorded as the worst performance in Wales, ranking 21st of 21 authorities who returned data (PSR/009a - The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a Disabled Facilities Grant for children and young people).

·         Of the 9 public protection indicators, 4 were in the top quartile, 1 was in the middle quartiles, and 4 were in the bottom quartile. The service inspected 100% of high risk businesses that were liable to a programmes inspection for trading standards, food hygiene, animal health and health and safety, achieving the joint best performance in Wales in each of these areas.

 

Appendix 2 contained a table detailing the 10 authorities of the South East Wales and their individual performance against the housing and public protection indicators in respect of how many top, middle and bottom quartile performance they achieved.

 

The Committee expressed concern with the downward trend in performance as indicated within the report but also acknowledged some of the factors provided by officers which had contributed to the under performance in certain indicators.  Officers stressed that the information contained within the report had been addressed by the inclusion in Service and Team Plans for 2012/13

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee notes with concern the deterioration in performance in respect of the National Strategic Indicators, Public Accountability Measures and Service Improvement Data.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be submitted by the Head of Public Protection and the Operational Manager (Public Housing) to the Committee as soon as practicable setting out reasons for performance in respect of each indicator identified within the report which had shown a deterioration.

 

(3)       T H A T the Head of Public Protection submit a further report to the Scrutiny Committee as soon as practicable in regard to the 2013/14 Food Law Enforcement Plan (PPN/009).

 

(4)       T H A T performance in relation to PSR/009A be subject of a separate report by the Head of Public Protection setting out measures undertaken to improve current performance.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-4)    In acknowledgement of the Committee’s responsibility for monitoring and reviewing performance in relation to housing and public protection related matters.

 

 

865     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2012 TO 31ST DECEMBER 2012 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The Revenue Budget and projected outturn for 2012/13 was shown in Appendix 1 to the report.  The Public Sector Housing (HRA) was predicted to outturn on target and currently showed a favourable variance of £134,000 against the profiled budget.  The variance was made up of a number of factors as detailed in paragraph 4 to the report. 

 

The General Fund Housing was currently showing a favourable variance of £11,000 on supplied and services but was expected to outturn on target.

 

The Private Sector Housing and Public Protection accounts were both predicted to outturn on target. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st December 2012. 

 

In regard to the Housing Improvement Programme, it was noted that as works were proceeding on the WHQS it had become evident that the existing budgets need to be updated in order to reflect what was achievable on each budget by the year end.  There was no issue with underspending on the total budget but each individual allocation required to be reviewed.  This review would take place in the next month and would be undertaken via delegated authority to officers.  Members would be advised of any changes in the next capital monitoring report. 

 

Variances between actual spend to date and profiled spend related to the following matter:

 

·         Castleland Renewal Area – as stated in the last report to Committee on 16th January 2013, payments had been behind profile on property lifting scheme due in part, to low takeup of insulation works by householders who had already had these works undertaken by other means as well as delays on site due to bad weather.  As a result it is requested that Cabinet (and Council) be asked to approve slippage of the projected underspend of £445,000 into the 2013/14 financial year in order to fund the next phases of the renewal area works.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/13 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted and the proposed amendment to reduce the Castleland Renewal Area capital budget to £1.26m. in 2012/13 and the carrying forward of £445,000 to 2013/14 be endorsed and referred to Cabinet and Council for approval.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members of the current position with regard to revenue and capital monitoring expenditure and to seek Cabinet and Council’s approval of the proposed amendment to the Capital Programme.

 

 

866     TENANT PARTICIPATION STRATEGY 2012/15 ACTION PLAN (DVSH) –

 

The Committee had previously endorsed the above Strategy which had subsequently been approved by the Council for implementation in October 2012. 

 

The Committee was advised that the above Action Plan had been updated to include:

 

·         a single list of actions in the corporate reporting format

·         provide greater detail in relation to success criteria

·         include start and target dates

·         progress to date.

 

Having regard to the above points, notable progress to date related to and included:

 

·         completion of the Tenant Profile Survey

·         introduction of a satisfaction form for people allocated homes via Homes4U

·         updated satisfaction forms for the Homelessness and Housing Advice Service

·         equality monitoring of housing application forms had been integrated onto the electronic OHMS system to allow analysis of the information.  It was noted that a new recording process would take effect on 1st April 2013

·         Supporting People had conducted service reviews of the service providers who formed part of the Tenant Support Scheme contract, including interviews with 20% of service users

·         The Sanctuary Project, which had been established to assist victims of domestic abuse to remain in their own homes with additional security if they considered this appropriate, was now operational.  A referral process had been developed; Supporting People and Housing Management were able to make referrals.

 

In addition to the above progress, a review of the tenants’ governance structure was conducted during 2012 and the recommendations were recently reported to the Committee.  Changes to the structures were anticipated to be implemented from April 2013 onwards. 

 

In line with the Committee’s previous request that more detailed actions for existing tenant participation activities be included, in order to show how outcomes would be achieved, these actions would be subject to a further report to the next meeting of Committee in order to reflect the new governance structure.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress against the Tenant Participation Strategy 2012-15 Action Plan be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the Committee’s responsibility for monitoring and reviewing progress of the related Action Plan.