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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 17th July, 2013.

 

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

 

Also present: Messrs. G. Amos, B. Fisher, Mrs. A. Evans and Mr. A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group).

 

Officers in attendance: Ms. H. Selway (Head of Housing and Building Services); Mr. A. Billinghurst (Head of Public Protection); Mrs. J. Wade (Operational Manager – Property Services); Mr. R. Ingram (Principal Accountant); Mrs. C. Roberts-Kinsey (Principal Trading Standards Officer); Mr. M. Lewis (Group Quantity Surveyor Property Services); Mrs. P. Barnett (Acting Youth Offending Service Manager) and Mr. J. Rees (Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer).

 

 

258     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor R.P. Thomas.

 

 

259     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 19th June, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

260     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

261     CHAIRMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENT –

 

The Chairman referred to the recent death of Mr. George Johnson who had been an active tenant representative.  The Chairman invited Mr. Fisher to say a few words in respect of Mr. Johnson in regard to his contribution / involvement in tenant engagement activities.  The Committee stood in silence as a mark of respect.

 

 

262     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2013 TO 31ST MAY 2013 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The current forecast for the Revenue Budget for 2013/14 was detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Public Sector Housing (HRA) Account was currently showing a favourable variance of £167,000, however there were adverse variances on both income due to voids of £30,000 and Housing Responsive Repairs of £32,000.  These adverse variances would be offset by favourable variances on salaries of £60,000 due to vacancies in the housing teams, Ty Iolo running costs of £18,000, Council temporary accommodation of £17,000 Incentive to Move schemes of £16,000, communal areas of £46,000, Council Tax of £9,000 and other supplies and services of £63,000. 

 

The General Fund Housing was currently showing a favourable variance of £62,000 but there were underspends of £17,000 on salaries and £45,000 on homeless emergency bed and breakfast placements.  It was anticipated that the services would outturn on target.

 

Appendix 2 to the report set out financial progress in regard to the Capital Programme as at 31st May 2013 with it being noted that the information included approved slippage for unspent committed capital expenditure slipped from 2012/13 into 2013/14.  This had been approved through the exercising of the Managing Director’s Powers and details of the slippage would be reported to Cabinet on 29th July 2013. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the current position with regard to the 2013/14 Revenue and Capital Monitoring.

 

 

263     CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2012/13 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The report set out the provisional financial position for the 2012/13 financial year.  The report also constituted an account of the major financial issues during 2012/13 financial year.

 

It was noted that Council on 7th March 2012 (Minute No. 951) agreed the Authority’s budgetary requirements for 2012/13. Appendix 1 to the report amended the revised estimates to take account of adjustments as referred to in the report, however there was no overall affect on the Committee.

 

Set out below was a table comparing the amended estimate and the actual expenditure for the areas within this Scrutiny Committee’s remit:

  

Service

Amended Revenue Estimate

Total Provisional Actual

Variance Favourable  () Adverse

 

       £’000

          £’000

             £’000

General Fund Housing

1,034

1,020

14

Public Protection

2,469

2,467

2

Private Housing

1,542

1,517

25

 

 

 

 

Total

5,045

5,004

41

 

The main reasons for the variances were set out in paragraphs 10 to 14 of the report and overall there was a favourable variance of £41,000. 

 

The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) resulted in a deficit of £1.311m. compared to the revised estimate deficit of £1.832m. and details were set out at Appendix 2 to the report.  The working balance had opened at £14.881m. and closed at £13.570m. 

 

There were net favourable HRA revenue budget variances of £521,000 and were identified against the following headings:

 

·         Supervision and Management General – favourable variance £479,000

·         Supervision and Management Special Services – favourable variance £263,000

·         Ad hoc variances – favourable variance of £263,000

·         Housing Repairs – adverse variance £159,000

·         Capital Financing Costs – favourable variance £8,000

·         Rents, Rates, Taxes and Other Charges – favourable variance £186,000

·         HRA Subsidy Payable – favourable variance £6,000

·         Increase in the Provision for Bad and Doubtful Debts- favourable variance £9,000

·         Capital Expenditure from Revenue Account – adverse variance £155,00

·         Rent Collected on Dwellings and Non Dwellings – adverse variance £101,000

·         Interest Received – adverse variance £19,000 and

·         Charges for Services and Facilities – favourable variance £4,000.

 

As to the Capital Programme, the overall outturn for the areas which fell within the remit of the Scrutiny Committee was a net underspend of £265,000.  The statement set out at Appendix 3 to the report detailed the outturn by scheme.  The Housing Improvement Programme underspent by £191,000.  Several major housing improvement budgets were established during 2012/13, including replacement kitchens and bathrooms as well as rewiring and central heating installations, aimed at achieving the WHQS for the Council’s housing stock.  The total underspend of £191,000 represented just 2% of the total £9m. budget.  It had been requested that the sum of £186,000 (net available Housing Services underspend) be slipped into 2013/14 to continue the works programme.

 

In regard to Reserves, it was indicated that this was an appropriation from a revenue account and did not constitute a cost of service until the expenditure was eventually incurred.  A reserve did not cover a present obligation or liability and was a voluntary means of setting aside monies for future requirement either capital or revenue. 

 

It was further indicated that a Provision was a charge to revenue and was included as part of the cost of the relevant service at the point the provision was created.  A Provision covered a present obligation or liability that had occurred to a past event and was compulsory under accounting regulations.

 

In addition, funds no longer required as Reserves could be transferred to the General Fund to be used for other purposes and set out at Appendix 4 was a schedule of the Reserves as at 31st March 2013. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee was also reminded that given the anticipated ongoing cuts in funding for future years, it was vital that the funding of uncommitted capital expenditure be retained for future use on prioritised schemes.  As such, Directorates have once again been informed that whilst committed capital schemes would be allowed slippage, those which were not contractually committee could not be funded.  This enabled some of the underspend on the Capital Programme to be retained and utilised for the future Capital Programme.

 

Reference was also made to the Major Repairs Allowance (MRA) in that the Council’s allocation for 2012/13 had been £2.8m.  Works totalling £9.039m. had been spent on major improvements to the Council’s housing stock, £2.8m of which was funded from the MRA, £159,000 from Housing capital receipts and £5.520m. from Housing revenue and reserves as well as £560,000 of supported borrowing.  The Scrutiny Committee noted that a further MRA of £2.8m. had recently been awarded to the Authority for the financial year 2013/14. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the slippage requests set out in Appendix 5 to the report be noted with it further being noted that in order to avoid delays in progressing the schemes, the Managing Director’s Emergency Powers had been sought to approve slippage requests.

 

(2)       T H A T the remainder of the report and the financial measures taken and proposed be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To note the amendments to the 2013/14 Capital Programme due to slippage from 2012/13.

 

(2)       To note the remainder of the report and the financial measures taken and proposed.

 

 

264      END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE 2012/13 AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 2013/14 – BUILDING SERVICES (MD) –

 

The Head of Service outlined the background circumstances leading to the performance indicators reported.  In doing so, she alluded to a number of adjustments proposed to be made to the predecessor performance indicators to ensure that they focused on cost, tenant satisfaction and productivity.  She further made reference to the recent published Audit Review report of Building Services and indicated that she would be submitting a report to the Cabinet shortly in response to this review which would include a change plan for the service.

 

Brief discussion took place on the level of tenant representation on the Tenant Panel from the western part of the Vale of Glamorgan and concern was expressed that tenants within this geographical area were not adequately represented.  The Head of Service acknowledged that the current levels of tenant involvement were disappointing despite officer and existing tenant representative efforts to improve tenant involvement from this locality.  With this in mind, she stated that a number of potential initiatives were being examined to improve tenant involvement in this area. 

 

Of the total of 25 actions identified for the 2012/13 service plan, 18 were completed, 4 had slipped with a further 3 not yet started.  It was also proposed to delete a number of performance indicators for 2013/14 for the reason indicated within the end of year performance report for 2012/13. 

 

Having regard to the above, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the end of year report for Building Services be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the performance indicators identified within the report be deleted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of performance during the financial year 2012/13.

 

(2)       For the reasons identified in the report.

 

 

 265     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE 2012/13 AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 2013/14 – PUBLIC PROTECTION (MD) –

 

The Head of Service outlined the background circumstances leading to the performance indicators reported. 

 

The Committee referred to performance indicator PPN/009A "the percentage of food establishments which were "broadly compliant" with food hygiene standards" and enquired of the Head of Service’s rationale as to why the target proposed for 2013/14 was not 100% and secondly, was it acceptable to set a target for the same period of 85%. 

 

In response the Head of Service indicated that the planned programme of inspections for such establishments in itself would make it unlikely that 100% target would be attained and reminded the Committee that high risk premises were always a priority for inspection notwithstanding, other competing service priorities also undertaken by the service i.e. support and training provided to such establishments to prepare hazard plans.  He also indicated that given available resources it was a matter of striking a balance between undertaking inspections, providing training and carrying out enforcement of those premises not adhering to food hygiene standards.  He also gave the Committee an assurance that inspections of high risk premises were in line with the Food Standards Authority guidance and, when necessary, the service could call in additional support from neighbouring authorities.

 

Whilst the Committee expressed the view that there should be a presumption in favour of 100% inspections undertaken for 2013/14 for such premises, it acknowledged the Head of Service’s explanation for retaining 85% target for 2013/14. 

 

The Committee’s attention then turned to performance indicator L1014aQ which related to Disabled Facility Grants for children with the Head of Service in response indicating that the additional funding recently received circa £300,000 would bring about further improvements in current performance levels.  He further indicated that every opportunity would be taken to assess current processes to ensure that they were being undertaken in the most efficient manner.  However, he reminded the Committee that problems still remained with turnaround periods for assessments undertaken by Occupational Therapists. 

 

Discussion also touched upon performance indicator SV/022Q – "incidents of serious sexual assaults" with the Head of Service confirming that the Police Crime Commissioner was aware of such matters and tackling the issue was the responsibility via a multi-agency approach led by South Wales Police through the Community Safety Partnership.  The Council’s involvement in regard to the Partnership was a co-ordinating role.  Certain Members of the Committee expressed reservations in regard to the proposed deletion of this performance indicator with the Chairman enquiring if deleted how performance in the future would be monitored / reviewed.  In response the Head of Service indicated that this would be addressed by the Community Safety Partnership with information contained within its Annual Report.  He agreed, given the comments from the Committee, to raise such concerns with the relevant officer. 

 

Of the total of 56 actions identified for 2012/13 service plan, 43 had been completed, 10 had slipped and a further 3 had not yet commenced.  In line with the previous report it was also proposed to delete a number of performance indicators for 2013/14 for the reasons indicated within the End of Year Performance Report for 2012/13. 

 

Having regard to the above it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the end of year report for Public Protection be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the performance indicators identified within the report be deleted.

 

(3)       T H A T the Head of Public Protection be requested to ensure that performance in respect of serious sexual assaults was monitored and reported in future in the Community Safety Partnership report.

 

(4)       T H A T the Head of Public Protection submit the draft Food Enforcement Plan when prepared to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of performance during the financial year 2012/13.

 

(2)       For the reasons identified within the report.

 

(3)       To ensure performance was appropriately monitored, reviewed and reported.

 

(4)       To consider and make comment on the draft Plan.

 

 

266     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE 2012/13 AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 2013/14 – PUBLIC HOUSING (MD) –

 

The Head of Service made reference to the report and referred to the homeless prevention performance indicator and accompanying target HHA/017aQ and indicated that only two families were placed in Bed and Breakfast accommodation.  She also alluded to the intention to develop a homelessness solutions approach and would look to address the current performance indicators to ensure that they were focused on customer experience.  She further indicated that she hoped to address a number of issues relating to outcomes in regard to homelessness and client experience of these services.  Certain Members of the Committee indicated that they wished to comment on the detail of the performance indicators reported.  It was agreed that Members who wished to comment on the performance indicators should send these to the relevant officer for consideration.  Any comments received would be circulated to all Committee Members.

 

Of the total of 38 actions identified for 2012/13 service plan, 26 had been completed, 1 was on track, 9 had slipped and 2 had not yet commenced.  It was also proposed to delete a number of performance indicators for 2013/14 for the reasons indicated within the End of Year Performance report for 2012/13. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the end of year report for Public Housing be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the performance indicators identified within the report be deleted.

 

(3)       T H A T the Head of Housing and Building Services submit a further report to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee regarding those outstanding performance indicators to be reported upon.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of performance during the financial year 2012/13.

 

(2)       For the reasons identified in the report.

 

(3)       To agree revised performance indicators for the service area.

 

 

267     UNDER-AGE SALES OF ALCOHOL IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (DDS) –

 

The report sought to apprise the Scrutiny Committee of the work of the Trading Standards Team in attempting to restrict the availability of alcohol to those persons under the age of 18.  The rationale for this work formed part of the improving the community objective by combating anti social behaviour associated with young people.

 

In 2004 the Westminster Government published its Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy with one of its key aims to clamp down on sales of alcohol to minors and launched the Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaigns (AMEC).  Since that time there had been a series of joint enforcement actions between the Council and officers of South Wales Police Constabulary and in December 2005 the Home Office funded a separate Welsh Trading Standards Campaign.  The Scrutiny Committee noted that since then the Trading Standards division had been actively involved year on year in test purchasing of alcohol. 

 

In 2011 the Council’s Youth Service conducted a survey of 651 young people aged between 11 and 18 years of age.  This survey discovered that nearly all young people had tried alcohol with a quarter of those moving towards a pattern of consuming alcohol once a week or more.  The risk age for establishing a pattern of drinking alcohol beings at 12 years with the number of units peaking for alcohol consumption at the age of 17 where young people were drinking on average 22 units of alcohol per person.  The survey also demonstrated that 44% of young people indicated that it was easy or very easy to obtain alcohol with over 30% of young people who drank regularly indicating that they obtained alcohol through proxy sales and direct purchases. 

 

Paragraph 9 set out a table of information which demonstrated a year on year analysis of work conducted by Trading Standards working in partnership with South Wales Police.

 

Year

Number of Test Purchases

Percentage failure rate

2006-2007

62

19%

2007-2008

81

16%

2008-2009

44

2%

2009-2010

59

7%

2010-2011

125

4%

2011-2012

152

14%

 

Since 2010/11 funding had been provided through the Safer Vale Partnership for an increased programme of Test Purchasing work.  This allowed officers to work in partnership with South Wales Police to concentrate on problematic areas and premises and carry out an holistic programme of test purchasing across all Wards of the Vale of Glamorgan.  During 2012/13 Trading Standards sustained a programme of Test Purchasing in conjunction with South Wales Police with the help of continued funding through Safer Vale Partnership.  12 operations had been undertaken with 160 test purchases being conducted and the current failure rate for 2012/13 was 3.75% which demonstrated an improvement from the previous year.

 

Paragraph 12 of the report set out a table of information which detailed the number of operations that were carried out, the principal areas that were targeted during the operations, the number of visits and the number of sales made to test purchasing volunteers.  It was noted that most licensed stores throughout the Vale of Glamorgan had been visited and small corner shop type stores, petrol stations through to large supermarkets had been tested.

  

Date of operation

Qtr

No of premises visited

No of sales made

Area

21.06.2012

1

10

0

Barry

22.06.2012

1

10

0

Penarth

22.08.2012

2

10

1

Barry

17.10.2012

3

7

2

Barry

30.10.2012

3

10

0

Penarth / Barry

16.11.2012

3

10

0

Barry

25.11.2012

3

11

0

Penarth

27.11.2012

3

11

0

Barry

16.12.2012

3

8

2

Cowbridge / St. Athan

20.12.2012

3

11

0

Penarth

15.01.2013

4

10

0

Rhoose / Llantwit Major

27.01.2013

4

10

1

Rhoose / Llantwit Major

31.01.2013

4

10

0

St Athan / Llantwit Major

12.02.2013

4

11

0

Barry / Dinas Powys

24.02.2013

4

10

0

Penarth

26.02.2013

4

11

0

Barry

Total

 

160

6

 

 

The Scrutiny Committee was also apprised of the process and procedure followed by Trading Standards which was in line with current guidance when issuing fixed penalty notices.  The Scrutiny Committee was also advised that there were options available to Trading Standards and the Police for concluding a matter, for example to take no further action, to a departmental warning letter, a Home Office caution or prosecution.  It was noted that each case was considered on its own merit.

 

Paragraph 14 of the report contained information regarding two establishments which had failed and infringed the test purchasing exercises. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee was also informed of the continued high profile presence of both Trading Standards and South Wales Police in conducting such checks had resulted in very low levels of infringement, with a welcome decrease from last year when 14% of premises tested made sales to underage volunteers.

 

The Committee referred to online purchases of alcohol by under-aged individuals, which, according to the press, was becoming more prevalent and enquired what action, if any, was being taken to monitor such purchases in the Vale of Glamorgan.  In response the Principal Officer indicated that monitoring in the future could be addressed by including on-line purchases within future planning operations.

 

The Committee also expressed the view that local Elected Members be informed of those establishments selling alcohol to under-aged persons on conclusion of court proceedings.  It was requested that such information be provided on a ward by ward basis.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T local Elected Members be informed of successful prosecutions when court proceedings had been concluded.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To apprise the Scrutiny Committee of work being undertaken by Trading Standards to combat the sale of age restricted products.

 

(2)       To support Members in their community leadership role.

 

 

268     YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE – ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT 2012/13 (DSS) –

 

The performance report in the above matter was set out at Appendix 1 to the report with it being noted that performance reporting by the Youth Offending Service (YOS) would always be approximately one quarter behind as a result of the need for data validation by the Youth Justice Board.  The Scrutiny Committee noted that the YOS Management Board was aware of the performance achieved during 2012/13. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee was informed that an analysis of the performance data was included in the report and demonstrated that the service’s performance in relation to preventing entry into the Youth Justice System (WYJI 1) continued to be positive with first time entrant rates dropping from 154 to 46 during 2011/12 and being maintained at 48 for 2012/13. 

 

In regard to rates of re-offending (WYJI 2) it was reported that there had been a slight increase in rates of re-offending in line with increasing trends reported across South Wales Youth Offending Services and on an all-Wales basis.  Re-offending rates were inevitably linked to the risk of custodial sentencing and as a result there had been a rise in the use of custody in the Vale of Glamorgan (WYJI 3) from 5 in 2011/12 to 10 in 2012/13.  Consequently, custodial sentences (WYJI 4) impacted negatively on the engagement of young people in education, training and employment.  All three areas would be monitored closely and any longer term trends would be responded to appropriately.

 

The Scrutiny Committee was also advised of a change in recording practices within the team halfway through 2012/13 which had led to a slight decrease in the number of young people accessing suitable accommodation (WYJI 5).  Staff were now recording young people placed at home as being in unsuitable accommodation if there were known risk factors present.

 

In respect of young people accessing appropriate support for substance misuse difficulties (WYJI 6) indicated that although all young people were seen and supported by the YOS, not all engaged with services and attended appointments made for them within the prescribed timescales.  The reasons for the delays were recorded and monitored by the Team Manager.

 

The Committee requested that details of the YOS budget be circulated to Members for their information.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Youth Offending Service Annual Report for the period April 2012 to March 2013 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the Scrutiny Committee’s responsibility to monitor and review the Youth Offending Service performance against the three national and three devolved performance indicators.

 

 

269     HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME – PROGRESS UPDATE (DR) –

 

The Council had previously agreed that a "whole house" approach to undertaking WHQS works be adopted across the Vale of Glamorgan.  This entailed completion of the four core elements (upgrading kitchen, bathrooms, heating system / boilers and electrical installation where necessary) all being undertaken in one visit as opposed to a series of individual work packages via multiple visits over a longer timescale.  It was noted that this decision had been made in consultation with tenant representatives. 

 

In developing the "whole house" approach, officers took account of the likely significant disruption that tenants occupying properties were likely to experience given that there was little opportunity to decant tenants to alternative accommodation.  In an attempt to mitigate disruption, contractors were required to complete all of the above works within 15 working days.  However, as reported previously to the Scrutiny Committee, this has not been possible in all occasions due to additional works that had been identified which had not been originally identified when the initial survey stage had been carried out.

 

The Scrutiny Committee had been concerned at the likely knock on impact the additional works involved with the Council’s Housing Improvement Plan, would impact on the viability of the budget of the Housing Business Plan given that these works had not been originally taken into consideration as part of Savills initial survey sample of the Council’s housing stock.  In addressing the Scrutiny Committee’s concerns the Council’s Property Section had carried out an analysis of the current cost per property which had identified that the total costs including the additional works totalled £9,250 and was lower than the costs identified as part of the Savills original estimates.  The Council’s approach to the procurement exercise had resulted in tender schedules of rates that outperformed those of the original Housing Business Plan and accordingly it was confirmed at present, the additional works had not negatively impacted on the Housing Business Plan profiling.  Albeit it was accepted that the additional works had created longer periods of disruption for tenants than originally envisaged.

 

Approximately 95% of the Council’s housing stock worked in to date had required works over and above upgrading of the four core elements as referred to above.  This had resulted in the length of time required to complete works within properties regularly exceeding the original planned 15 working day turnaround period.  Consequently, the scope of the works now required has resulted in contractors reassessing their planned resources and work programmes and it was felt that this had been a contributory factor to the previous poor performance of three of the five contractors during the first six months of the programme (i.e. Apollo, Lovell and Ian Williams).  The two contractors who were exceptions to these performance issues were the Council’s Building Services Division and SMK. 

 

At the last meeting of the Committee officers advised of plans to introduce a number of interventions to tackle the issues that had been highlighted above by tenant and Member feedback.  A number of these had subsequently been implemented with others planned or being investigated.  Examples of these were detailed in paragraphs 19 to 30 of the report. 

 

In regard to contractors’ current performance, it was considered that all contractors, particularly those whose performance had previously been of concern to the Scrutiny Committee, had made significant efforts to address the underlying causes of tenant dissatisfaction and other issues.  The report set out at Appendix A information relating to key performance indicators (KPIs) for the period 1st April 2013 to 30th June 2013 (Quarter 1).  Members’ attention was directed to the fact that KPI 4 indicated a trend of continuous improvement through April, May and June by Apollo, Lovell and Ian Williams.  However, in isolation, the returns for Ian Williams and Lovell in April and May were not particularly favourable.  Both contractors were endeavouring to reduce their backlog of historical properties while at the same time implementing interventions which included changing their workforce and adopting new processes. 

 

The exceptions to the trend of continuous improvement were:

 

·         Building Services Division who had exceptional returns of 100% on time in April, May and June

·         SMK who had recently encountered a large proportion of properties requiring significant additional works.

 

Officers in referring to KPI 7 indicated that there was continuous improvement by the Building Services Division through April, May and June.  The two external contractors who undertook works in Void Properties during the same period (Ian Williams and SMK) both achieved 100% success rate in June.

 

As for the handling of complaints and associated procedures, as indicated in the report to the Scrutiny Committee in April, the Property Section had now taken ownership of the complaints handling processes.  A more co-ordinated complaints management system had been put in place with a single point of contact being appointed.  Complaints were logged centrally before being forwarded to designated contractors and Council staff to be actioned.

 

In terms of the number of formal complaints received by the Council’s Property Section during the past four months, these were as follows:

 

-         March 2013: 16

-         April 2013: 13

-         May 2013: 12

-         June 2013: 3.

 

The above figures highlighted a reduction month by month of the number of complaints received which was suggested by officers to be attributable to various interventions implemented by contractors resulting in improved communication with tenants and a more cohesive approach when dealing with day to day problems encountered in properties being refurbished.  The Committee was also informed that not only negative feedback was received on contractor performance and set out in Appendix B to the report were a number of compliments that had been received by the Property Division. 

 

The Committee’s attention then turned to the review of contract management processes and officers alluded to previous information provided to the Scrutiny Committee in regard to the Property Section’s intention to undertake a review of the contract management processes that were currently being employed. 

 

In advance of the review, a number of changes had already been implemented as part of the interventions referred to within the report.  Accordingly, it was proposed that the commencement of the review would be temporarily delayed in order to permit these changes to bed in.  The review would then be able to assess the effectiveness of these processes.  It was proposed that the review would include an examination of resources being deployed, existing lines of communication, documented procedures, clarity of information being provided / by relevant parties.  The objective of this exercise would be to assess the suitability of current arrangements and identify potential areas of improvement with a view to enhancing overall service delivery.  A consultant  Project Manager had been engaged on a temporary basis to undertake the review which would commence shortly and it was anticipated that any significant findings would be reported to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the interventions being adopted to further improve the performance of contractors and the Council’s Contract Management Staff in delivering a high level of customer care to tenants whose homes were undergoing improvement works as set out in the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow the adequate monitoring of performance of contractors and Council staff in delivering the Housing Improvement Programme.

 

 

270     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DR) –

 

The report apprised Committee of progress in relation to uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee for the financial year 2010/11 (Appendix A); the financial year 2011/12 (Appendix B); the first quarter reporting April to June 2013 (Appendix D) and the financial year 2012/13 (Appendix C). 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following actions detailed below be accepted as completed:

 

12 January 2011

Min. No. 789 - Financial Inclusion (DLPPHS) – Recommended

(2)   That the Head of Public Protection be requested through the Financial Inclusion Partnership Group to prepare a draft joint Financial Inclusion Strategy for the Vale of Glamorgan and this be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for future consideration and for approval by the Cabinet.

 

 

This task has been referred to the Welfare Reform Officer Working Group for consideration / action.

06 April 2011

Min. No. 1097 - Minutes – Recommended that the minutes of the meeting held on 9th March, 2011 be approved as a correct record subject to its being noted that the Director of Housing be requested to submit to the Committee in the near future a further report on the future role of the Vale of Glamorgan Housing Federation.

[Min. No. 1014 - Tenant and Resident Engagement Strategy Action Plan 2010-15 (DLPPHS)]

Review just completed - VHF has disbanded.  Elections held to appoint tenant representatives to the Scrutiny Committee.  Four tenant representatives appointed.

Completed

17 April 2013

Min. No. 1081 - Housing Improvement Programme – Progress Update (DVSH) – Recommended

(2)   That the next quarterly monitoring report be brought forward and submitted to the next meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

(3)   That the findings into the review of the current contract management and communication with stakeholders be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee as soon as practicable.

 

 

 

(2)   Report submitted to 22nd May meeting.

Completed

 

(3)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

22 May 2013

Min. No. 44 - Housing Improvement Programme – Progress Update (DVSH) – Recommended

(1)   That a further update / review report be submitted to the Committee for consideration at its meeting in July 2013.

(4)   That the Property Section review the contract management processes that they were currently employing on each of the WHQS contracts be presented to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

 

 

(1)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(4)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 45 - Task and Finish Activities for 2013/14 (HDS) – Recommended

(2)   That the suggested topic for review, to be put forward to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group be:

-        Traffic Management – the impact of traffic flows within the county, including sustainable travel.

 

 

Referred to Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group meeting 25 June 2013.

Completed

19 June 2013

Min. No. 107 - Update On Emergency Planning Within The Vale Of Glamorgan (DDS) – Recommended

(2)   That the review of the Emergency Plan for 2014 be subject of a further report to the Scrutiny Committee in the future.

(3)   That the Head of Public Protection be requested to arrange an appropriate Member Development workshop for all Members of the Council to ensure that they were appropriately briefed on arrangements in relation to the Council’s responsibility in regard to emergency planning and also to allow Elected Members to support their communities in regard to emergency events.

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(3)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 108 – Voids Management (DVSH) – Recommended

(2)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for information.

 

 

Referred to Cabinet meeting on 15th July 2013.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the progress made against the remaining recommendations identified as ongoing as detailed in the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members of progress with Scrutiny Committee recommendations.

 

 

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