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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the HOUSING COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 25 May 1999 at 4.45 pm.

Present: Councillors FRANK ELLIS, ALISTAIR GRAY, IAN ANGUS, WILLIAM CROWE, DAVID LUMGAIR, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, JOY MOWATT, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE, BILL ROBERTON and SHEENA WELSH.

Councillor ELLIS, Convener, in the Chair.

Before the start of business, the Convener welcomed members to this first meeting of the Housing Committee following the recent election. He introduced the Vice-Convener, Director of Housing, and other officers and expressed the hope that members would enjoy the time they served on this Committee.

1. APPOINTMENTS

(a) Membership of Committee

With reference to Article 5 (c) of the minute of meeting of the Council held on 13 May 1999, the Committee agreed to note the members appointed to this Committee.

(b) Membership of Sub-Committees, etc

The Committee agreed, in terms of Standing Orders 32 and 33, to appoint members of this Committee as follows:-

(i) Executive Sub-Committee

The Committee agreed to appoint Councillors Frank Ellis, Alistair Gray and George Norrie to the Executive Sub-Committee of the Housing Committee.

(ii) Housing Benefit Review Board

The Committee agreed, in terms of the Housing Benefit Regulations, to appoint the Convener, Vice-Convener, and Councillors Glennis Middleton, William Crowe and George Norrie to the Housing Benefit Review Board to hear representations made by persons whose rights, duties or obligations were affected by a determination or decision on housing benefit.

The Committee noted that the members appointed to the Housing Benefit Review Board should comprise at least one member of the same sex as the claimant, and not be involved in any particular case or have any connection with the claimant. Accordingly, the Committee further agreed that, when necessary, any member of the Housing Committee could be appointed as a substitute member.

(iii) Travelling Peoples’ Working Group

The Convener and Councillor Kay Ellis, being the local member, were appointed, in terms of the Minute of Agreement of the above Advisory Group to attend meetings to consider matters relating to the travellers site at Balmuir Wood, Tealing.

Members noted that the Chair was in rotation with Dundee City Council and that the Convener and local member could appoint nominees to attend in their place.

2. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 6 April 1999 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Executive Sub-Committee

There were submitted and noted the minutes of meetings of the Executive Sub-Committee held on 19 April and 4 May 1999, copies of which were appended to this minute (APPENDIX I and APPENDIX II).

3. BEST VALUE - AMENDED SERVICE REVIEW PROGRAMME

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 29 September 1998, there was submitted Report No 489/99 by the Director of Housing advising that, in light of the considerable staff resources required to implement the recommendations contained within the Void Management Service Review Report, which had been prepared as part of the implementation of the Council’s Best Value regime, it had been necessary to review the overall Service Review Programme and adjust anticipated start and finish dates, as outlined in the Appendix to the Report.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the amended Service Review Programme appended to Report No 489/99.

4. PERFORMANCE INDICATOR INFORMATION 1997/98

There was submitted Report No 427/99 by the Director of Housing advising that the Accounts Commission for Scotland had published a report detailing housing service performance indicators for 1997/98 and setting out in a table attached to the Report comparisons between Angus Council’s Housing Department’s performance and the other 31 Scottish Local Authorities.

The Committee agreed to note the statistics in the table appended to Report No 427/99 and acknowledge the general favourable performance position of Angus Council’s Housing Department in each case.

5. IMPROVEMENT GRANT APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER DELEGATED AUTHORITY

The Committee noted a list of applications for improvement grants totalling £34,894, approved under delegated authority by the Director of Planning and Transport, as detailed in Report No 473/99.

6. REPAIR GRANT APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER DELEGATED AUTHORITY

The Committee noted a list of applications for repair grants totalling £10,361, approved under delegated authority by the Director of Planning and Transport, as detailed in Report No 472/99.

7. HOME ENERGY CONSERVATION ACT (HECA) PROGRESS REPORT

Members were advised that the Housing Department had received notification from the Scottish Office that, under Section 3(2) of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995, the Secretary of State for Scotland required that the first progress report from Angus Council on Home Energy Conservation be submitted to the Scottish Office by 31 October 1999.

The report would cover the period 1 December 1997 to 31 March 1999 and, although the Scottish Office were yet to provide detailed guidance, it was probable that the document would run to some 6-10 pages.

Because of the timescale involved with compiling this report and the dates of the Housing Committee cycle, the Director of Housing intended that the report be submitted to the Scottish Office at the end of October as requested, and subsequently submitted to the Housing Committee on 9 November 1999 for homologation.

The Committee agreed to note the position.

8. ANGUS CARE AND REPAIR

Members were advised that the Council, along with Scottish Homes, provided financial support to Angus Care and Repair, which in 1998/99, had amounted to £26,000. In this connection, there was submitted by Angus Care and Repair a review document for the years 1997/98 and 1998/99.

The Committee agreed to note the content of the Review document for 1997/98 and 1998/99 from Angus Care and Repair.

9. HOUSING CAPITAL PROGRAMME - HRA BLOCK - 1998/99 AND 1999/2000

There was submitted Report No 517/99 by the Director of Finance on the Housing Capital Programme - HRA Block - 1998/99 and 1999/2000 setting out the near actual position of the HRA Housing Capital Programme for 1998/99 and the 1999/2000 Capital Programme. The near actual spend for 1998/99 was close to the approved total for that year. Performance in 1999/2000 would be monitored to ensure achievement of the approved programme.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the figures presented in respect of 1998/99 as detailed in Report No 517/99; and

(ii) to approve the 1999/2000 Capital Programme totals and note that its performance would be carefully monitored throughout 1999/2000.

10. CLOSING ORDER

There was submitted Report No 516/99 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection regarding a property which failed to meet the "tolerable standard" as prescribed in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1982.

The Committee agreed to recommend that a Closing Order be placed on Ascreavie Cottage (formerly Gardeners Cottage), Ascreavie House, Kingoldrum, Angus.

11. THE SCOTTISH ROUGH SLEEPERS INITIATIVE - A REVIEW BY THE RSI ADVISORY GROUP

There was submitted Report No 490/99 by the Director of Housing advising that the Scottish Office had requested that the Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI) Advisory Group should carry out a review of the initiative to meet the Government’s 2002 target of no-one having to sleep rough because of lack of accommodation. The Advisory Group’s Review recommended a change in emphasis for future initiatives insofar as they should focus on preventative measures and the provision of move-on accommodation.

The Report recommended that, in general, the Council should welcome the recommendations in the Review but express concern regarding the lack of facilities and services in rural areas which would possibly give rise to people moving to, and potentially sleeping rough in, cities.

Having heard Councillor Glennis Middleton express concern regarding young homeless people in Angus, the Committee agreed to approve the comments set out in the Appendix to the Report to be submitted to the Scottish Office as the Council’s response to the Advisory Group’s Review of the Rough Sleepers Initiative.

12. A GREEN PAPER - INVESTING IN MODERNISATION - AN AGENDA FOR SCOTLAND’S HOUSING

There was submitted Report No 494/99 by the Director of Housing in consultation with the Chief Executive and other Chief Officers advising that, in February 1999, the Government had published a major Green Paper entitled "Investing in Modernisation - An Agenda for Scotland’s Housing". The aim of the Green Paper was to focus debate on a long term strategy for housing policy on which the Scottish Parliament and Executive could then build. Comments required to be submitted to the Scottish Office by 31 May 1999.

The Committee agreed that the comments appended to the Report be submitted to the Scottish Office as the Council’s response to the Green Paper.

13. COUNCIL HOUSE RENT LEVELS 1999/2000

There was submitted and noted Report No 520/99 by the Director of Housing outlining, in an Appendix, the average weekly rent levels in Scotland for all local authorities in the 1999/2000 financial year, as reported by COSLA.

The Committee agreed to note the terms of Report No 520/99 and that Angus Council had the second lowest average rent of £28.70 per week of the 32 authorities (despite the recently agreed 5.5% increased being applied from April 1999).

14. COUNCIL HOUSE SALES

There was submitted and noted Report No 518/99 by the Director of Finance detailing Council House sales for the period to 31 March 1999.

15. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee agreed that in terms of Standing Order 27(2) the public and press be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, Paragraphs 2, 6, 8 and 9.

16. COUNCIL HOUSE SALES - QUARTERLY SCHEDULES

There was submitted and noted Report No 519/99 by the Director of Finance which detailed individual Council House sales for the fourth quarter of 1998/99.

17. DISPOSAL OF GROUND ADJACENT TO 11 STRATHMORE PLACE, MONTROSE

There was submitted Report No 488/99 by the Director of Housing regarding the disposal of an area of ground at Strathmore Place, Montrose as outlined in the plan attached to the Report.

The Committee agreed that the area of ground in question be sold to Mr and Mrs Edwards on appropriate terms and conditions and that the Council’s reasonable legal and valuation costs should be met by them.

18. PROPOSED AMALGAMATION OF TWO PROPERTIES AT 33 AND 35 LYNINGHILLS, FORFAR

There was submitted Report No 487/99 by the Director of Housing recommending, for the reasons outlined in the Report, the amalgamation of two properties at 33 and 35 Lyninghills, Forfar into one housing unit.

Having heard Councillor Glennis Middleton, the local member, welcome the provision of this type of accommodation for larger families, the Committee agreed that the properties at 33 and 35 Lyninghills, Forfar be amalgamated to created one larger housing unit at an estimated cost of £19,000.

19. COMMUNITY SELF-BUILD, STRATHAIRLIE, ARBROATH

There was submitted Report No 486/99 by the Director of Housing informing of the main findings of a feasibility study into Community Self-Build and concluding that Angus Council should support a Self-Build project.

The Committee agreed that Angus Council should support the principle of Community Self-Build at Strathairlie, Arbroath and work in partnership with the community and agencies involved in Strathairlie to develop a Self-Build project.

The following item was considered as a matter of urgency in order to dispose of the property at the earliest opportunity.

20. DISPOSAL OF EARLSDON HOUSE, SOUTHESK STREET, BRECHIN

With reference to Article 17 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 10 November 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 534/99 by the Directors of Housing and Property Services advising of the outcome of the marketing of 1-7 Earlsdon House, Brechin.

Having heard the Director of Housing on the reasons for sale, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve the disposal of Earlsdon House, Southesk Street, Brechin to Ballindarg Buildings Ltd, on the terms and conditions contained in Report No 534/99; and

(ii) to authorise and instruct the Director of Law and Administration and the Director of Property Services to agree such other terms and conditions as might be deemed appropriate.