HOMES AND SAFE COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th September, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. C.A. Cave (Chairman); Councillors Ms. A.M. Collins, B.T. Gray, M.J.G. Morgan, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson, M.R. Wilson and Ms. M. Wright.

 

Also present:  Mrs. G. Doyle, Mr. A. Raybould and Ms. H. Smith (Tenant Working Group Representatives) and Ms. D. Murphy (Citizens Advice Cardiff and the Vale).

 

 

269     ANNOUNCEMENT -

 

On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman took the opportunity to welcome Ms. Delyth Murphy to the Committee in a non-voting observer capacity.  The Chairman advised that Ms. Murphy was a representative of the Citizens Advice Cardiff and the Vale Service and that the Committee looked forward to working with Ms. Murphy going forward.

 

 

270     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors S.J. Griffiths (Vice-Chairman), Ms. B.E. Brooks and Mrs. S.M. Hanks.

 

 

271     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 11th July, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

272     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

273     OLDER PERSONS HOUSING AND ACCOMMODATION INCLUDING WITH CARE AND CARE READY (REF) -

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services presented the reference from the Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee to update Members on the assessment of older peoples housing and accommodation across the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff. 

 

Part 9 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 required Regional Partnership Boards to agree an integrated Market Position Statement (MPS) and commissioning strategy for older people services.  To meet the requirement, the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Regional Partnership Board (CVGRPB) published its MPS in January 2018, following approval by the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Cabinet, Cardiff Council and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

 

In order to action upon the findings of the MPS, the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) were commissioned by the Partnership to undertake a review, using funding provided by the Welsh Government's Integrated Care Fund.  The final report was provided to Committee at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The Assessment of Older Person’s Housing Accommodation reported that the proportion of the population over 75 years of age was expected to increase by 71% in the Vale of Glamorgan by 2035.  This meant that the Council, working with housing partners and care providers, needed to consider the development of alternative types of accommodation which enabled people to live at home for as long as possible.

 

The Officer apprised the committee of the overarching aims of the research which included to identify current and future provision, where data allowed, for each of the three cluster areas in the Vale of Glamorgan: Central, Eastern and Western Vale: 

  • Provide a comprehensive understanding of the nature of current housing and accommodation provision for older people – including both social and private sector housing;
  • Identify the requirements and aspirations of older people in later life specifically in relation to housing and accommodation;
  • Identify the need for older people’s housing and accommodation, including different types of housing such as extra care housing, sheltered and retirement housing;
  • Set out a specification of the types of housing and accommodation that would meet the identified needs and requirements of older people.

In terms of current provision, the findings of the research revealed that in the Vale of Glamorgan the most prevalent type of older people's housing was sheltered housing with 625 units and 927 other age designated housing units in the social rented sector.  The current private retirement housing provision of 204 units provided a mix of housing choices for different equity and income groups.

 

The Officer highlighted that it was also reported that there was very limited extra care housing / housing with care provision in the Vale of Glamorgan, currently only 42 units, when compared with the prevalence of 464 beds residential care beds.

 

With regards to building facilities, the research also highlighted a number of challenges regarding current housing in relation to a low proportion being wheelchair accessible and approximately 50% of older people schemes across Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan having a lift.

 

The Officer advised that in order to identify future requirements the HLIN modelled the provision of accommodation on the basis that the preferred approach by the Council would be to increase the number of extra care housing units as a direct alternative to the use of additional residential care beds.  Similarly it was also assumed that partners would wish to increase the supply of Housing our Aging Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) inspired 'care ready' contemporary sheltered / retirement housing for older people which was suitable for ageing at home by creating accessible living space, accessible kitchens and bathrooms to allow domiciliary care to be provided without necessitating a move to residential care.

 

Based on these assumptions, it was forecast that by 2035 the Vale of Glamorgan would require an additional 586 additional older person housing units, 385 housing with care units and 326 additional nursing care beds.

 

The Officer apprised the Committee of an online survey and a series of focus groups and interviews with older people that were undertaken across the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff as part of the research.  The engagement revealed a number of key messages to be taken into consideration for future development: 

  • Adaptations to bathrooms; installation of grab rails; improving access such as ramps and installations of stair lifts / lifts were the most popular adaptations people had made or were planning to make to enable people to stay in their own homes;
  • The main reasons for planning a move from home was to live in a smaller and more accessible home; to move nearer to family and / or friends and to have access to care services;
  • The most popular locations in the Vale of Glamorgan that people wished to move to were Western Vale and Eastern Vale;
  • The most popular types of housing older people were seeking to move to were bungalows, followed by houses and then flats.  60% wanted at least two bedrooms in a property to consider downsizing.  Other key factors were safety / security; having a private garden; adequate storage; having a garage or parking; moving to an area with cafes/shops;
  • Nearly half of respondents (47%) would not wish to move to housing designated for older people although 29% would consider this, with many wanting a visiting or on-site staff presence.

The Final Assessment Report set out a number of recommendations for the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the wider Partnership to consider.  These included: 

  • Further development of contemporary 'care ready' sheltered / retirement housing which was without care on site but enabled people to age at home;
  • Mainstream housing developments to include well designed units which appealed to older people and which promoted inter-generational housing;
  • Increase the delivery of housing with care options including extra care and extra care 'lite' which may include smaller scale new build developments and redesigning some appropriate sheltered housing schemes to include a 'care hub';
  • Develop a comprehensive information and advice service for social housing tenants and homeowners in relation to adaptations and housing options;
  • Scale up the development of 'step-down' housing based models of care to support timely discharge from hospital and promote reablement;
  • To work with the Welsh Government in relation to affordable housing targets and the potential for guidance in relation to older people housing;
  • To work with care providers to consider alternative service models to residential care, including provision of nursing care.

As a supplementary point, the Officer added that only 2% of the total housing stock for the Vale of Glamorgan was currently assigned to elderly people as most elderly people were remaining in their own homes. 

 

In conclusion, the Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the findings would be discussed further with the Vale of Glamorgan's Housing Forum and Care Provider Forums.  The intention was that the report would also form an addendum to the Local Housing Market Assessment which would subsequently inform future planning policy.

 

As part of the wider partnership working across the region, the CVGRPB would also host a stakeholder event in the Autumn to encourage further discussion on joint working, including opportunities to align funding such as the Welsh Government's Integrated Care Fund.

 

The findings of the assessment would be discussed further with the Vale of Glamorgan’s Housing Forum and Care Provider Forums and the intention was that the report would also form an addendum to the Local Housing Market Assessment which would subsequently inform future planning policy. 

 

Therefore, the Council would continue to apply for Welsh Government funding to improve and/or increase the housing supply available however, the Council did not anticipate growth in residential care as the assessment clearly set out that individuals did not wish to reside in residential care in the future but would rather stay in their own homes. 

 

A Member thanked the Officer for his presentation and complimented the extensive detail contained within the report and in particular examples of best practice undertaken by other local authorities, referred to on page 93 of the assessment report.  As many of the case studies referred to international examples of best practice the Member stated that it was imperative that the Council adopt international ways of working and/or thinking as those authorities had already evidenced an excellent standard of service. 

 

As a secondary point, the Member also noted that there was a lack of reference to the integration and/or the use of technology within the report.  As the Strategy was long term it was important to recognise that the older persons of today were a limited generation in terms of technology and the younger generations that the Strategy would more greatly affect would have a much higher level of dependency, knowledge and expectation for the use of technology. 

 

A Member also complimented the detailed report and was pleased to find that many of his concerns had been referred to within the contents.  The Member seconded the Member’s earlier point that the plan was a ‘long term’ plan and added that many individuals had already taken financial steps to provide for themselves in retirement.  The Member also wished to make the point that individuals were frightened by the thought of going into residential care and therefore the stance for staying in their own homes was greatly received and understandable.  It was important to note that each area of the Vale of Glamorgan was very different and therefore Ward Member consultation was extremely important and would prove very useful to Officers going forward. 

 

At this point, the Head of Housing and Building Services wished to add that the assessment was the starting point for building the long term strategy which would take into consideration European models and inter-generational housing.  Considerable consideration would also be given to Statutory Planning Guidance and to the fact that the number of local authority social rented housing was very small compared to individuals in private homes. 

 

A Member stated that given the large amount of rural environments unique to the Vale of Glamorgan, all future Strategy work needed to be appropriate to the Vale of Glamorgan and therefore not on an entirely regional basis.  In response, the Head of Housing and Building Services advised that consideration would be given to the rural areas and communities within the Vale of Glamorgan by addressing Section 106 requirements.

 

The Chairman summarised the valid points raised by the Committee Members and added that strong partnership working between the Housing, Planning and Social Services Departments was crucial to completing the long term strategy. 

 

Subsequently, it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report and reference from the Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the comments of the Committee as set out in the minutes above be referred to Cabinet for its consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Committee is aware of the findings of the report and comments raised by the Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee and the projected increased demand for appropriate accommodation to meet the requirements of an ageing population with a growing prevalence of care and support needs.

 

(2)       To ensure that Cabinet are aware of the thoughts of the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee regarding Older Person’s Housing and Accommodation, including with Care Needs.

 

 

274     UPDATE REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE CIVIL PROTECTION UNIT (DEH) -

 

The Principal Civil Protection Officer presented the report to update Committee on the operational work plan for the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) as set out in the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.

 

The Officer began her presentation by advising that the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA) placed a statutory duty on Category 1 and Category 2 responders.  Local Authorities were Category 1 responders under the provisions and had set duties specified in the CCA 2004.  The CPU ensured that the Council fulfilled the duties specified under the Act. 

 

Regrettably, an element of the work of the CPU had slipped slightly due to the Civil Protection Officer leaving the post in October 2017 and this represented a 50% reduction in the staffing available to the team.  In addition, the new South Wales Local Resilience Forum Co-Ordinator commenced employment at the end of November 2017 however, the post holder left after 8 weeks for another position leaving the running and work of the South Wales Local Resilience Forum to revert to the Principal Community Protection Officer. 

 

The Principal Civil Protection Officer was pleased to report that a new Civil Protection Officer (CPO) was appointed in February 2018 and was currently undertaking training, coaching and a programme of development and learning about the Council and the profession. 

 

With regards to the work undertaken by the CPU since the last Committee update, Storm Emma had hit the Vale of Glamorgan in early March 2018 and had resulted in a snow emergency.  The response to this emergency was led and co-ordinated by the CPU and at the Council’s Emergency Control Room in F26 at the Alps which was open for 8 consecutive days from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. 

 

The Officer added that the snow emergency was a prolonged emergency for the Vale of Glamorgan Council as the Vale of Glamorgan was significantly affected in the rural areas with major roads including the Five Mile Lane being blocked.  The Emergency Control Centre at F26 co-ordinated the resources across the Council and ensured that critical services could continue to operate as well as support partner agencies like the Cardiff and Vale Health Board to ensure that its community based services would still be provided within the Vale area.  The Officer drew the Committee’s attention to the snow map facts as contained at Appendix 1 to the report which demonstrated the demands made on the CPU at that time. 

 

Following the snow emergency, a number of action points were identified during internal debriefs and the CPU was working with the Council’s Highways staff to ensure that any lessons learnt were identified actions added to CPU Service Plans for the forthcoming winter period.  The details regarding the future Action Plans were contained within the snow brief document contained at Appendix 2 to the report. 

 

The Principal Civil Protection Officer stated that the level of response and commitment shown by Vale of Glamorgan staff was excellent, not only during the snow emergency but also when responding to a number of fire incidents at St. Athan and Barry, coastal incidents including objects in the sea and cliff falls, loose horses, unauthorised traveller encampments and issues resulting from a period of prolonged hot weather. 

 

The Officer advised that she also Chaired the Events Safety Advisory Group (ESAG) which met every six weeks and had dealt with a number of long-standing planned events and new first time, one off events within the Vale of Glamorgan such as the Barry 10k. 

 

A Member added that the snow emergency had had a significant impact on the Penarth area and that many residents made a significant effort to travel on foot to local shops, however, the shops were forced to close due to a lack of stock.  Given this fact, the Member suggested that consideration be given to controlled rationing within supermarkets for on foot trade during any future snow emergencies.  As a supplementary point, the Member also wished to address the fact that there seemed to be a lot of miscommunication regarding the re-opening of schools and the fact that schools, that had opened, eventually had to be closed because staff were unable to travel to the school. 

 

The Principal Civil Protection Officer advised that stock deliveries within supermarkets operate on a ‘just in time’ basis and therefore there was very little that the supermarkets were able to do to re-stock as deliveries were not made however, some stores did introduce rationed sales during the emergency.  With regards to school closures, the Officer confirmed that schools were shut for two days as agreed in advance.  However, on the following Sunday it was very difficult to liaise with the key liaison officers at each school, ahead of the Monday morning.  There were strategic routes in place for salting however due to the significant snow fall it was very difficult for salting vehicles to complete the routes and therefore impossible for teaching staff in domestic vehicles. 

 

A Member thanked the Officer for the excellent work undertaken during a very difficult time, however, wished to point out that communication with Councillors was restricted due to the ongoing ICT issues and it would have been of significant help if the Councillors were able to copy and paste images from their mobile phones into an email to forward to Officers.  ICT staff were not available at that time, due to not being able to get into work themselves so, not being able to contact staff at that time was extremely frustrating. 

 

In response, the Principal Civil Protection Officer advised that she had corresponded with ICT since the emergency and had been advised that the email task the Member was referring to was indeed down to a training issue.  The equipment provided could complete the task however; Members needed guidance on how to use it successfully. 

 

A Member referred to the snow brief document contained at Appendix 2 to the report and asked if the Council was on target for the action points contained.  The Officer advised that, yes, the majority of the action points were complete however, the ongoing item with regards to liaising with local farmers was proving very difficult at this time of year due to the farmers working commitments in the summer months.  However, assured members that this would be achieved as soon as possible.

 

The Chairman concluded the item by highlighting that the emergency response processes were a collaboration of hard working individuals responding to an unpredictable situation therefore, it was comforting to feel a sense of community from everybody at that very difficult time. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the work of the Civil Protection Unit over the past six months as set out in the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that Members of the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee continue to monitor the work of the Civil Protection Unit as set out in the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.

 

 

275     PRESENTATION - TARGET HARDENING FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIMS -

 

The Violence Against Woman, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) Manager provided a presentation to the Committee regarding the target hardening scheme which was launched on 3rd August, 2015, following a Service Level Agreement between the Safer Vale Partnership and the Vale of Glamorgan Council Building Services and Maintenance Team as requested by the Committee at an earlier meeting. 

 

The Officer advised that the Target Hardening service was available to any victim of domestic abuse residing in the Vale of Glamorgan and measures would be installed, with the consent of the property owner, and that no installation requests had been declined to date.  From 1st April, 2016 a contract was awarded to the Vale of Glamorgan Fire and Security to install CCTV and intruder alarms.  Training was also given by specialist services (Atal y Fro) and the VAWDASV Manager to ensure that contractors had a basic awareness of domestic violence and had the ability to recognise signs which would need to be raised and signposted. 

 

The Council’s directive was that, wherever possible and safe to do so, victims would be supported to stay in their existing homes with additional security measures if necessary as well as offering practical solutions to prevent unwanted access and giving victims peace of mind. 

 

The provision referred to as ‘target hardening’ included security measures on the fabric of the building such as external locks on gates, security lighting, fencing and CCTV, or internal measures such as window locks, fire proof letter boxes, bogus call buttons and community alarms.  Overall target hardening measures reduced repeat victimisation and also increased women’s confidence and sense of safety.  The Officer added that it was important that target hardening measures were offered alongside a wider framework of support that included regular risk assessments and whilst target hardening was a priority it was also a preventative measure and a deterrent to other crimes such as burglary.  Once target hardening was installed at a property the Council would return to the client and complete a quality control questionnaire.  This provided the Council with a record of how the client was feeling since the installation of the target hardening. 

 

The Officer apprised the Committee of local statistics revealing that victims of domestic abuse were often women from a family environment and that the number of women who had been supported by Atal y Fro were as follows:

 

2016/17

Refuge = 19 women and 12 children;

Second Stage = 20 women and 24 children;

Dispersed Housing Project = 3 women and 6 children.

TOTAL = 84.

 

2017/18

Refuge = 13 women and 5 children;

Second Stage = 9 women and 7 children;

Dispersed Housing Project = 5 women, 2 men and 10 children.

TOTAL = 59.

 

2018/19 (to date)

Refuge = 12 women and 11 children;

Second Stage = 6 women and 8 children;

Dispersed Housing Project = 3 women and 6 children.

TOTAL = 46.

 

In consideration of the statistics above, the VAWDASV Manager stated that there was an obvious increase in the number of Target Hardening referrals and that the total figures for the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2018/19 would very shortly be reaching above the total number for the 2017/18 year.  At this point, the Principal Community Safety Officer added that the average cost for the installation of CCTV at a property, which was the most expensive provision and only installed in cases deemed as High Risk, was around £500.  However, this was a small amount to pay for the peace of mind and safety of individuals suffering very traumatic and violent abuse. 

 

A Member thanked the officers for a very interesting presentation and asked if the statistics included within the presentation reflected repeated victims and whether the safety team collected such data.  In response, the VAWDASV Manager advised that the department did collect statistics on repeated victims and the figures presented did include repeated victims.  The Officer also advised that it was essential to look at the individual needs of the victim as well as that of the perpetrator.  The Principal Community Safety Officer then took the opportunity to state that the Council was now operating a five-year strategy which allowed the Council to have clear goals in tackling this area of work.  The Council wished to improve on perpetrator prevention especially regarding perpetrators who had multiple victims. 

 

A Member asked for further context regarding CCTV being a deterrent for other crimes and queried how the CCTV equipment was viewed by neighbours in close proximity.  The Principal Community Safety Officer advised that the CCTV equipment was very visible to any person visiting the property and its primary purpose was to deter perpetrators. The equipment used was of very good quality and a sticker was also placed in the front window of a property. The parameter of footage was only within the parameters of the property itself and did not reach neighbouring properties.  The Officer added that the perpetrators may not notice the cameras if they were approaching the property in a hostile manner and/or at night and the perpetrator may also think that the equipment was ‘dummy’ equipment.  The cameras at a property linked to the resident’s tv within the home and also recorded footage therefore, the victim did not have to exit the property to investigate and could remain safely inside.  Intruder alarms installed were also linked to emergency contacts whereby if the alarm was triggered then a close family member or friend would be notified.  The Council wished for systems to be as visible as possible so the evidence gathered via the equipment could be used in a court of law. 

 

The Representative for Citizens Advice Cardiff and the Vale thanked the officers for an excellent presentation and stated that it was incredibly useful for her to hear of the work undertaken by the VAWDASV Manager aS it would help to inform her role in delivering the ‘Ask Project’ for Citizens Advice in Cardiff and the Vale. 

 

A Tenant Working Group Representative stated that he was pleased to hear that significant training was offered to Vale of Glamorgan staff in recognising the signs of domestic violence and highlighted that tenant working groups were often approached by individuals who were suffering with issues in the home and therefore it would be useful for Tenant Working Groups to also receive such training.  The VAWDASV Manager advised that she had previously visited Tenant Working Group meetings to provide training and she would be happy to offer the training sessions again in the future. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services wished to add that the Council would not want to miss the opportunity of any individual having the courage to confide in a Tenant Working Group Representative or Council Officer about the domestic abuse they were suffering.  Therefore, it was important that further training took place at Tenant Working Group Meetings and to build good working relationships with the VAWDASV Manager. 

 

RECOMMENDED -


(1)       T H A T the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Manager be thanked for her presentation and the contents of which be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Manager reapproach the Tenant Working Groups to arrange further group training.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure members are kept informed of the work undertaken by the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Manager.

 

(2)       To ensure Domestic Violence training is provided to Tenant Working Groups to support the work of the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Manager.

 

 

276     SCRUTINY COMMITTEES’ DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT MAY 2017 TO APRIL 2018 (MD) -

 

The Scrutiny Support Officer presented the report for the Committee’s consideration and approval of the Scrutiny Committees’ Draft Annual Report 2017/18 which was attached at Appendix A to the report. 

 

Members were advised that approval of the Annual Report was not required from Full Council as the report was led and approved by the five Scrutiny Committees.  Therefore, Members were requested to make any amendments or suggestions throughout the report, however, with specific attention given to the details relevant to the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee. 

 

The Officer apprised the Committee of the report contents which were details of the role of scrutiny, how scrutiny was undertaken in the Vale of Glamorgan and highlights of key achievements from the work of each Scrutiny Committee, significant events during the year and future working, specifically in relation to the Council agreement that the work of scrutiny would be closely aligned to four Wellbeing Objective Outcomes that formed the main basis of the Council’s new Corporate Plan which was published in April 2016. 

 

The Officer advised that the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group would also consider the contents of the Annual Report at its meeting scheduled on 19th September, 2018, following which, any comments would be referred to the relevant Scrutiny Committee.  The Annual Report would subsequently be submitted to Full Council in September 2018 and then published on the Council’s website.

 

A Member drew the Committee’s attention to page 17 of the report and point 2 which stated that Scrutiny Committees should ensure that where appropriate Cabinet Members rather than Council Officers were held to account for the efficient exercise of execution functions in accordance with statutory guidance and suggested that this point be made more prevalent within the document.  In response to the point made, the Scrutiny Support Officer advised that a detailed Action Plan was being developed by officers in response to the Wales Audit Office Scrutiny Improvement Report which would address all seven of the proposals for improvement in equal measure. 

 

A Member noted that the section relevant to the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee did not have any reference to the completion of the Welsh Housing Quality Standards Improvement Works and requested that this be added to show the Committee’s commitment to monitoring the improvement works programme.  The Scrutiny Support Officer thanked the Member for his point and advised that a paragraph would be added which reflected that similar to the previous year’s Annual Report, with particular emphasis on the Committee’s ongoing monitoring.  Reference to the completion of the Welsh Housing Quality Standards being achieved by the Council would be included in the 2018/19 Annual Report.  The Officer suggested that the wording of the additional paragraph be approved by the Chairman following the Committee meeting, to which, the Committee agreed.

 

The Chairman thanked Committee Members for their feedback and requested that the objectives relevant to the Committee be reversed on the top of page 9 so the objective providing decent homes and safe communities was listed before reducing poverty and social exclusion which more accurately reflected the current workload of the Committee. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the draft Annual Report for the period May 2017 to April 2018, subject to any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman, be approved and that the report be submitted to Full Council in September 2018.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To approve the draft Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Report to allow it to be submitted to Full Council in September 2018.

 

 

277     VALE OF GLAMORGAN ANNUAL REPORT (IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 2) 2017/18 (DEH) - 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services presented the draft Vale of Glamorgan Annual Report (Improvement Plan Part 2) 2017/18 which outlined the Council’s progress towards achieving the Council’s Wellbeing (Improvement) Objectives agreed in April 2017.  The report also outlined the Council’s performance for 2017/18 on a range of services relative to all other Welsh Local Authorities as published by the Local Government Data Unit which was now called Data Cymru.  The draft report also incorporated the Council’s Annual Improvement Report from the Auditor General Wales which summarised the audit work undertaken in the Council during the period 2017 to 2018. 

 

Given the significant size of the draft report, the Officer drew the Committee’s attention to pages 16 - 20 of the report which gave an overview of performance at end of Year 2, April 2017 - March 2018, in achieving the Council’s Corporate Plan Wellbeing Objective most relevant to the remit of the Committee, Wellbeing Outcome 1, An Inclusive and Safe Vale.  For each of the two Wellbeing Objectives aligned with Outcome 1 and the remit of the Committee the Annual Review incorporated a performance snapshot and provided progress in detail in relation to the Council’s achievements, challenges and risks.  The Officer advised that the data could be viewed on pages 20 to 39 of the report. 

 

For context purposes, the Officer advised that the Corporate Plan was the Council’s key means of complying with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Local Government (Wales) Measure which required the Council to set Wellbeing (Improvement) Objectives annually and demonstrated continuous improvement.  The Plan set out the Council’s 8 Wellbeing Objectives for 2016-2020 as well as its vision and values with reference to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and had been formed by local needs and available resources and incorporated the views of residents, partners and staff. 

 

Based on the Council’s evaluation of progress at end of year, it had concluded that overall, the Council had made strong progress in achieving the majority of the outcomes intended in the Council’s Wellbeing (Improvement) Objectives for 2017/18, despite challenging financial times and increasing demand on its services, giving an overall performance (or RAG) status of Amber for the Corporate Plan.  With regards to Outcome 1, ‘An Inclusive and Safe Vale’ specifically, 80% (40 out of 50) of the Corporate Plan activities aligned to Year 2 of the Corporate Plan had been successfully delivered with 56% (14 out of 25) of the performance measures associated with the Wellbeing Outcome met or exceeded target resulting in a Green status.  The Officer continued by advising that 3 (20%) of the measures were within 10% of target (Amber) and 6 (24%) measured missed targets by more than 10% (Red status).  Positive progress made to date in supporting achievement of the Wellbeing Outcome had contributed to an overall Amber performance status at end of year. 

 

The areas that the Council performed best and therefore ranked first in Wales were participation in leisure activities, highway cleanliness standards and responding to fly tipping incidents.  The Council also recognised improvements could be made to those areas where the Council was performing in the lower or bottom quartiles when compared with the rest of Wales and these areas related to the condition of Vale of Glamorgan roads and participation in recycling waste. 

 

The Officer was pleased to report that the Vale of Glamorgan had also performed solidly when compared to the South East Wales averages with 67% (12) of its Measures performing better than the South East Wales average.  Overall the Council was performing well in performance indicators across all service areas and once again, for the fourth consecutive year, the Council had been the top performing Council in Wales in relation to the National Indicators set. 

 

A Member shared his difficulties in accessing the Annual Report documents online and therefore had struggled to read the document in its entirety.  In response, the Head of Building and Housing Services advised that the outcomes contained within the Annual Report had previously been presented to Committee as part of the quarterly performance reports and that there were no fundamental changes to the issues surrounding the remit of the Committee. 

 

A Member referred to page 171 of the Annual Report and in particular to Section 1.4.4 Objective 2, CPM/064 which referred to empty properties within the private sector.  The Member advised that he was receiving a lot of correspondence from constituents concerned with properties remaining vacant for long periods of time and considering that there was a national issue with regards to homelessness and the fact that the Council had made excellent progress with regards to the Welsh Housing Quality Standards Improvement Scheme, the Council needed to be more proactive with regards to vacant properties in both the private and public sector and requested that a future report be brought to Committee regarding empty properties in the private sector. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that a previous report had been brought to the Committee regarding empty properties in Council owned properties and that the Shared Regulatory Services and Planning Sections of the Council dealt with the strategic side with regards to vacant properties and would therefore be better qualified to provide the response report to Committee.  The Officer acknowledged that there was a national issue regarding homelessness and the Council was waiting on a piece of work for ‘future steps’ regarding housing provision and homelessness from Welsh Government.  In the meantime, the Council was doing all that it could to increase housing supply. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Vale of Glamorgan Annual Report (Improvement Plan Part 2) 2017/18 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T a report regarding vacant properties within the private sector in the Vale of Glamorgan be added to the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council fully discharges its duties under both the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (WBFG) and the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 (LGM) to publish an Annual Review of Council Performance Against its Wellbeing (Improvement) Objectives.

 

(2)       To ensure Committee is advised of the current situation regarding empty properties in the private sector within the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

278     ENVIRONMENT AND NEIGHBOURHOOD STRATEGY (HOUSING) SIX MONTHLY REPORT (DEH) -

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services presented the report to update the Committee on progress implementing the Environment and Neighbourhood Strategy (Housing) which was monitored by the Committee on a six monthly basis. 

 

The Officer was pleased to advise that there had been significant progress with implementing all of the actions contained within the Strategy which were either complete or on target to be completed by the target date.  Therefore, all actions were classified as Green. 

 

A key element of the Strategy directed the targeting of 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 had benefitted from significant estate improvement works. 

 

Following a wide ranging consultation with local tenants and residents, a programme of works was agreed, the contract had been let and contractors were on site. The improvements being carried out included: new roofs, replacement windows, upgrades of communal areas, external wall insulation plus external landscaping. Significant progress had been made already but work would continue on site for the next 6 months.

 

The physical appearance of estates was also identified as a priority in the strategy and a 'photobook' had been developed which was a set of agreed environmental standards 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 in place so tenants had the opportunity to take part or engage with their Neighbourhood Manager when they were on site.

 

The Officer added that 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 Gibbonsdown, 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 to 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 estate action plans which pick up local issues and priorities was underway and draft action plans were in place for a number of estates.

 

Significant financial support had been set aside to deliver the objectives in the Strategy. This included provision of a £8.4m budget for environmental and estate improvement works over the course of the next three years which forms 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 £64,000 per annum had been set aside to fund smaller scale estate and environmental improvements identified by local residents and groups.

 

Given that all action points in the current plan were green, the Officer advised that a new Action Plan would need to be designed going forward which incorporated more ambitious targets. 

 

A Member complimented the work that had been undertaken on the Buttrills Estate in the Barry area and advised that the aesthetics of the area had significantly improved.  However, there was a cluster of privately owned homes on the estate that had not benefitted from the recent improvement works and asked whether there were any funds available to support those home owners to also make external improvements.  The Officer advised that, unfortunately, there was not currently a funding stream available to the private home owners however, Welsh Government was looking into the ways that it provided grants and the Council appreciates the fact that the private residents wished to improve their properties given their recently improved surroundings.  The Member thanked the Officer for his advice and reiterated that it would be a great shame if the 12 private properties were not improved as it would significantly bring down the efforts made by the Council in the nearby surroundings.

 

The Chairman referred to point 4 on page 4 of the Action Plan and asked whether the point could be expanded to consider garden maintenance and/or grass cutting.  The Chairman stated that consulting tenants to produce business cases for communal cleaning services and to improve the cleanliness of shared areas in flats was an excellent idea and suggested that a social enterprise be set up to accommodate this more productively. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services referred to the Gibby Green Fingers Project which had previously been brought to the Committee’s attention and advised that the organisation now had use of a vehicle and would therefore take referrals for properties in the Traherne area to provide garden maintenance.  The Officer advised that he had recently met with Social Firms Wales and had arranged to make a site visit to a social enterprise that had made a significant contribution to supporting Pembrokeshire Council with bulky item collection, recycling, furniture upcycling and training.  The Council agreed with Members that social enterprise was an opportunity that was too good to miss and discussions had already taken place around setting up a community recycling team in areas of the Vale of Glamorgan where recycling levels were low.  The Officer advised that he would bring a future report to Committee regarding social enterprise when further information had been gathered. 

 

A Member advised that he had continued to take part in estate walkabouts with Housing Officers and encouraged the use of a Photobook to maintain environmental standards.  However, it was important that the Photobook was shared with Members to establish a collective level of standards. The Officer advised that the Photobook Application worked on a traffic light rating system which could then be drilled down into more specific information.  Unfortunately, at the moment, the application only had 20 licences however, discussions were ongoing with regards to Ward Member access and officers hoped to roll out the application to Ward Members in the next couple of months. 

 

The Chairman thanked the Officer for his presentation of the report and wished to clarify how the Committee would be in a position to feed into the new Action Plan in the future, to which, the Officer advised that a future report would be drafted by the Housing Department which would be shared with the Committee for its consideration ahead of a final report being taken to Cabinet. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the six monthly monitoring report in relation to the operational delivery plan for the Environment and Neighbourhood Strategy (Housing) be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a report regarding Social Enterprise be added to the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that the external environment on public housing estates is maintained to a good standard and to provide Scrutiny Committee Members with the opportunity to make any comments on the Strategy which would include ensuring that any actions identified are addressed.

 

(2)       To ensure that social enterprise is a key focus of the Environment and Neighbourhood Strategy (Housing) going forward.