Agenda and minutes

Housing, Economy and Business Committee
Tuesday, 22nd March, 2016 7.30 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA

Contact: Susanne Wicks, Committee Support Team Leader. Tel:020 8770 6540, Email:  susanne.wicks@sutton.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

41.

Welcome and introductions

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Jayne McCoy opened the meeting and welcomed all present.  She read out a short statement reminding the Committee that the meeting was being held during the pre-election period. 

42.

Apologies and substitutes

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Jean Crossby and Councillor Daniel Sangster.

43.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

44.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 26 January are agreed as an accurate record.

45.

Review of Management Agreement between the Council and Sutton Housing Partnership pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration, who then handed over to Peter Walters, the Chair of the Sutton Housing Partnership Board and Andrew Taylor from Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP).

 

Peter Walters also gave a short introduction to the report.  He highlighted the progress made by SHP this year, particularly with regard to performance and tenant satisfaction which is over 90%.  Satisfaction with repairs has also risen over the last nine months by 13%. 

 

Councillor Nick Emmerson raised a series of questions regarding insurance, which were clarified by the Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration who had discussed the issues beforehand with the Head of Insurance.  The public liability insurance is purchased by LB Sutton and remains at £50m.  The assets owned by LB Sutton are insured by LB Sutton.  The employers’ liability insurance is set at a minimum of £10m, and Andrew Taylor confirmed the level set is £25m.

 

Councillor Nick Emmerson noted some inconsistency between paragraphs 23.3 and 23.4 and the Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration undertook to review the wording with Legal in order to clarify and merge into one paragraph.

 

Councillor David Bartolucci asked about SHP’s formal and financial relationship with Sutton Federation of Tenants and Residents Association (SFTRA). The Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration explained that there is no formal financial relationship between the two stipulated within the agreement or in the payments made to SHP with regards funding to support SFTRA.  It is recognised as a key representative body and support is provided but that is not defined in the management agreement.  There are other bodies that SHP support in terms of resident engagement and there are no reference to those either.

 

Councillor Jayne McCoy noted that, given the collective understanding about the role of SFTRA, it was surprising that they were not mentioned in the management agreement.  Councillor David Hicks echoed those comments, and suggested that this be added to the management agreement, which was supported by Councillor David Bartolucci.

 

Andrew Taylor acknowledged SFTRA’s prominent and public role as the face of residents across the borough, and indicated that SHP would be willing to include them in the management agreement.  However, he noted that SHP also consult residents outside of SFTRA, particularly when seeking the views of specific groups, e.g. older people. 

 

The Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration suggested the following wording for inclusion in the management agreement at the relevant point:

 

“The Council and SHP recognise the role of SFTRA in representing the interests of tenants, leaseholders and freeholders who pay service charges, and will ensure that support is provided to the SFTRA to enable it to fulfil its role”.

 

Councillor Joyce Melican suggested that the following wording be added:

 

“This does not preclude other informal structures that may be set up as necessary to meet the terms of the residents’ Compact”.

 

At the suggestion of Councillor David Hicks, the Committee agreed to form a working group, comprising Members from wards with a large  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Sutton Housing Partnership Major Works Procurement Strategy pdf icon PDF 184 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration and Martin Thomas, Head of Asset Management and Compliance at SHP. 

 

Martin Thomas pointed the Committee’s attention to paragraph 3.1 of the report that details the planned shift from the Decent Homes standard works to improvements to communal areas, estate environments and thermal efficiency.  He acknowledged that a pilot project was carried out some years ago on insulation, but that related to tenant behaviour rather than the fabric of the buildings. Councillor David Hicks noted that the construction of many homes has been a barrier to thermal efficiency and welcomed improvements to communal areas.

 

The Chair invited comments and questions from the Committee.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Housing, Economy and Business Committee approves the Sutton Housing Partnership Major Works Procurement Strategy, which is to procure major and planned works in future through a flexible mixture of direct tendering and the use of existing framework agreements, as described in the body of this report.

 

47.

Opportunity Sutton Programme three year plan 2016 - 19 pdf icon PDF 445 KB

Minutes:

The Head of Economic Renewal and Regeneration gave a detailed introduction to the report and the Chair invited comments and questions.

 

Councillor Neil Garratt asked how the impact of the individual projects is measured, and if any meaningful comparison can be made with other boroughs locally, such as Croydon, Merton and Kingston. The Head of Economic Renewal and Regeneration advised that performance indicators are detailed within the Economy Watch data, and some comparison is carried out on a national and sub-regional basis, but not by borough.  The Strategic Director of Environment, Housing and Regeneration confirmed that all projects are evaluated upon completion, and some are brought to this Committee.

 

The Head of Economic Renewal and Regeneration gave an updated on the Tramlink project and the Apprenticeship Hub and gave further details of the process of exploring the feasibility of a Business Improvement District in Worcester Park. 

 

RESOLVED: That the Housing, Economy and Business Committee approves the programme priorities, workstreams and funding allocations for 2016 – 2019 as set out in the report.

 

48.

Commissioning Options - Revenues and Benefits Service pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Sets out the future commissioning intention for the Revenues and Benefits service and details the options considered.

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Executive Head of Business Services and the Head of Revenues, Benefits, Insurance and Pensions.  The Chair then invited comments and questions.

 

Members registered their concern that the current high quality of the service may not be sustained in a shared service and sought reassurance that the development of the business case will be a rigorous process, evaluating all options in full.  The Executive Head of Business Services confirmed that the business case will be fully tested, with all options explored. The Strategic Director of Resources noted that he shares those same concerns and will expect the business case to be fully tested, given the potential financial and reputational risks.

 

Councillor Nick Emmerson asked which authority would be the lead borough for a shared service, and the Strategic Director of Resources outlined the process for setting up a jointly owned company. 

 

The Head of Revenues, Benefits, Insurance and Pensions advised that both boroughs maintain high levels of performance with regard to Council Tax collection, and a shared service should add to capacity, giving the opportunity to explore providing the services to other markets.

 

In order to facilitate Member involvement, the Executive Head of Business Services undertook to organise a workshop with Members, to share findings of the work carried out and to seek feedback from Councillors.  Councillors Hicks, Bartolucci, Fivey and Emmerson volunteered to attend the workshop. 

 

RESOLVED: That the Housing, Economy and Business Committee approves the development of a full business case for a shared Revenues and Benefits service between the London Borough of Sutton and the Royal Borough of Kingston and that this is brought back for final consideration.

 

 

49.

Planning Commissioning Project pdf icon PDF 360 KB

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning along with the Commissioning and Business Insight Manager. 

 

In response to questions, the Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning confirmed that there are examples of other authorities successfully sharing these services, and lessons will be taken from where they have been successful and failed.  He acknowledged Members’ concerns about the differences between the three boroughs and any possible loss of quality in the service provided and confirmed that the options will be benchmarked against the current provision. 

 

The Commissioning and Business Insight Manager advised that meetings have taken place and will continue to do so with senior officers and Members from all three authorities. 

 

With regard to the risk register, Councillor Joyce Melican noted that the risks are high and questioned if the mitigations were sufficient. The Strategic Director of Environment, Housing and Regeneration pointed out that the risks were around the project rather than the joint approach but undertook to ensure that the risk matrix was revised in a numerical format and with a column added to show the risk after mitigation measures are taken. 

RESOLVED:  That the Housing, Economy and Business Committee agrees:

 

1.    A shared approach for the delivery of planning services is pursued between the London Boroughs of Sutton and Merton and the Royal Borough of Kingston, as outlined in paragraph 6.3.

 

2.    Two options for a shared approach are followed up in detail:

 

·         a traditional shared service where one of the Councils is the employing authority

·         a shared service provided through a shared delivery company (open equally to all partners).

 

3.    These two options are bench marked against an in-house planning service

 

4.    A full business case is developed for presentation to the Housing, Economy and Business Committee in September 2016.

50.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme task and finish group

To agree membership of a Council Tax Reduction Scheme task and finish group.

 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the Council Tax Reduction Scheme task and finish group, comprising Councillors McCoy, Emmerson, Hicks and Melican will meet in mid-May.

51.

Sutton Housing Partnership Delivery Plan task and finish group

To refresh the membership and terms of reference for the SHP Delivery Plan task and finish group

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the current membership of the SHP Delivery Plan task and finish group shall continue (Councillors McCoy, Crossby, Emmerson, Garratt, Hicks and Melican).

52.

Economy Watch

This report, providing the borough's economic indicators for Quarter 3 of 2015/16 has been circulated to the committee and is available online at:

 

http://www.opportunitysutton.org/economy-watch/ 

 

 

Minutes:

The Chair reminded the Committee that the latest Economy Watch data is available online at http://www.opportunitysutton.org/economy-watch/

53.

Any urgent business brought forward at the direction of the chair

Minutes:

No urgent items were raised.

54.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on 21 June 2016.

Minutes:

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on 21 June 2016.