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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection):           7th September 2011

 

Report of the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing

 

Introduction of Local Letting Policy - Awbery House, Barry

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To Introduce a Local Lettings Policy to Awbery House, Barry.

Recommendation

1.             That Scrutiny Committee consider the attached report and recommend for Cabinet approval.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             To create a stable and sustainable community within the flats at Awbery House.

Background

2.             The 23x2 bed Flats which comprise Awbery House lie within Dyfan ward on Buttrills Walk, Barry.  They have previously been designated as older persons' accommodation but this restriction was lifted a number of years ago and they now form part of General Needs housing.

3.             As accommodation suitable for single persons and couples the flats have attracted a disproportionately large amount of younger people with a criminal justice or anti social behaviour backgrounds.

4.             The Building has been characterised by poor internal condition, unkempt communal areas, extensive damage to Council property and issues with the disposal of rubbish since its de-designation.

5.             There are a number of longstanding residents who are much older in age and the mix of lifestyles with the new younger residents is causing difficulties, leading to numerous complaints of anti social behaviour and creating an unstable community characterised with residents requesting transfers away from the area.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             Housing Officers in discussions with the local community and residents groups have been asked to consider the introduction of a Local Lettings Policy, the thrust of which will be to stabilise the community through an age related restriction.

7.             A discussion document (attached at Appendix 1) was drafted outlining the reasons for the proposed change and the proposed criteria to be used for a new local lettings policy. In summary the policy aims to restrict future allocations to residents aged 40 and above without a history of anti social behaviour. 

8.             An exercise in profiling the existing tenants has already taken place.  This has examined issues such as their; age, ability to pay rent or in receipt of Housing benefit, any rent arrears, any history of anti social behaviour and,  if they are currently in receipt of Housing related or Social Services support.

9.             The profiling has indicated that of the 23 tenancies, 56.5%(13) were allocated to residents under 40 of which 8 of the tenancies(61.5%) were at varying stages of action under the Council's Anti Social Behaviour Policy. The profiling also identified that 83% of the residents were in receipt of full Housing Benefit. Only 5 residents were in receipt of Housing related support many either not identified with a need or refusing help offered.

10.        An analysis of the Crime and Anti Social Behaviour for Awbery House and the Wider Buttrills Estate has also been considered. The report reflects an increase in both Crime and Anti Social Behaviour recorded with the Council Partnership data analyst has provided information for the area (North Walk, West Walk and Awbery House) which shows and increase of reported neighbour nuisance of 110% over the period April 2010-April 2011 (10 increasing to 22). In total there have been 103 reports of all ASB over the same period.     

11.        The two tenants groups in the area have already been consulted about the proposals and have been positive about the proposed local lettings criteria.

12.        Whilst the Local Lettings Plan is taking effect the Housing Department will devote resources to more intensively manage the estate and will establish more of a visible presence for the duration of the Local Lettings Policy.

13.        The Local Lettings Plan will be evaluated in 12 months time to ensure that it has met and continues to meet its objectives in promoting a more stable community.

14.        The Local Lettings Plan will be discussed at future resident group meetings in the area as a further method of the evaluation of its effectiveness.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

15.        This proposal can be implemented from current resources.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16.        Section 4.52 of 'The Code of Guidance for Local Authorities on Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness (April 2003)' gives the Council the ability to designate a Local Lettings Scheme with a defined area. The Criteria for allocating illustrated in the Consultation document at Appendix 1 is compatible with these principles. The Council adopted Allocations policy also includes the ability to designate local lettings policies and the framework for adoption.

Crime and Disorder Implications

17.        Effectively dealing with Anti Social Behaviour contributes to a reduction in Crime and Disorder.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18.        Officers have a duty to consider the needs and requirements of the community who are affected by our policies. In accord with that duty, Officers have undertaken an Equality Impact assessment in line with legislation. The Council will look to mitigate any adverse implications through identification and prioritisation of smaller units of accommodation in future development opportunities.

Corporate/Service Objectives

19.        This report is consistent with the following corporate and service objectives of the Council.

20.        Community Well Being.

21.        To make the Vale a safe and healthy place in which individuals, children and families can live their lives to the full.

Policy Framework and Budget

22.        This report is to inform Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection).

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.        The West Walk and Compass Tenants Associations' groups have already been consulted about this proposal including local ward members.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

24.        Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection).

Background Papers

Consultation Document on a Local Lettings Plan for Awbery House, Barry.

 

Contact Officer

Mike Ingram, Operational Manager.

 

Officers Consulted

Deborah Gibbs, Principal Community Safety Officer. 

Mike Walsh, Lawyer.

Tim Greaves, Equalities Officer.

 

Responsible Officer:

Peter Evans, Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services