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HOUSING

MINUTE of MEETING of the HOUSING COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 9 January 2001 at 4.55 pm.

Present: Councillors FRANK ELLIS, ALISTAIR GRAY, IAN ANGUS, BILL CROWE, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE, MBE and BILL ROBERTON.

Also Present with the concurrence of the Committee ­ Councillor JOHN HENDERSON

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors DAVID LUMGAIR, JOY MOWATT and SHEENA WELSH

Councillor ELLIS, Convener, in the Chair.

1. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 November 2000 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

2. HOUSING CAPITAL PROGRAMME ­ HRA BLOCK ­ 2000/2001

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 November 2000, there was submitted Report No 17/01 by the Director of Finance setting out the latest position on the HRA Housing Capital Programme, detailing the latest estimate for the year and the spend figures to the end of November 2000.

The Committee agreed to note the figures presented for the Housing Capital Programme ­ HRA Block for 2000/2001.

3. HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998

There was submitted Joint Report No 18/01 by the Director of Housing and the Director of Law and Administration which detailed work carried out by the Housing Department to ensure compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Report concluded that the procedures operating within the Housing Department were, in the main, compatible with the provisions of the Human Rights Act but changes in procedures had been introduced, where this had proved necessary.

The Committee agreed to note and accept the contents of the Report.

4. MODERNISATION/IMPROVEMENTS AND TRANSFER INCENTIVE PACKAGE ­ REVIEW OF REDECORATIONS/DISTURBANCE ALLOWANCES

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 23 February 1999, there was submitted Report No 19/01 by the Director of Housing proposing increases in the range of decoration and disturbance allowances paid to tenants whose homes were being modernised or improved by the Council, along with a review of certain operational issues.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note its stated policy in relation to the modernisation of Council Housing;
  2. to approve the proposals on operational issues (as outlined in Section 3 of the Report);
  3. to increase the decoration/disturbance allowances and package measures currently being operated by the Council, (as detailed in Appendix A to the Report) and that these charges apply in respect of projects commencing on site after 1 April 2001; and
  4. to make no changes in relation to the assistance given (where appropriate) to tenants when houses were being modernised (as set out in Appendix B to the Report).

5. HOMELESSNESS EMERGENCY RECEPTION

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 February 2000, there was submitted Report No 20/01 by the Director of Housing which proposed changes to arrangements for the reception of emergency (outwith office hours) homelessness cases and enquiries.

The Committee agreed the implementation of new procedures, outlined in the Report.

6. SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE'S CENTRAL HEATING INITIATIVE

There was submitted Report No 21/01 by the Director of Housing which gave details of the Scottish Executive's Central Heating Initiative which was designed to install central heating and insulation and offer energy advice for all Council and private homes where the householder was a pensioner.

The Report indicated that, given that all Council houses in Angus had some form of central heating, based on current information on the Scottish Executive's Central Heating Initiative, no Council properties in Angus would qualify for funding. There would, however, possibly be some Angus pensioner households in the private sector who might qualify for grant assistance.

It was therefore regrettable that, based on an apparent technicality, Angus Council tenants would not be able to enjoy access to resources that would help to advance the heating improvements programme.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. that the Director of Housing write to the Scottish Executive's Community Minister, Jackie Baillie MSP and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Michael McGlynnn, expressing the undernoted concerns:-
    1. that the Scottish Executive's Central Heating Initiative announced on 17 September 2000 and to commence on April 2001 was seriously flawed;
    2. it took no account of the heating systems that required refurbishment, or replacement, or indeed partial systems that required to be extended;
    3. that this Committee was angered that, because of this badly thought out Initiative, the hopes and aspirations of the elderly in the community who were vulnerable would evaporate leaving them disheartened; and
  2. that the Scottish Executive be requested to reconsider their position without delay, to allow all the elderly in Scotland to benefit from the Initiative.

7. GAS SUPPLIES TO MARYWELL GARDENS, KIRRIEMUIR

There was submitted Report No 22/01 by the Director of Housing setting out proposals that tenants be given access to gas connections during forthcoming improvements to the Council's properties at Marywell Gardens, Kirriemuir.

Having noted the increasing costs that would arise in giving tenants the choice of gas heating and having heard Councillor Henderson, the local member, speak in support of the proposal, the Committee agreed:-

  1. that the tenants at Marywell Gardens be given the choice of gas heating;
  2. that the Director of Housing write to the Scottish Executive expressing the Committee's concern over the level of charges imposed by TRANSCO; and
  3. that the Director of Housing submit a Report to a future Committee meeting on a long term policy regarding the costs of upgrading both electricity and gas supplies.

8. ALBERT PLACE, BRECHIN

There was submitted Report No 23/01 by the Director of Housing advising that a request had been received from owner/occupiers in Albert Place, Brechin for improvements to the roadway at the rear section of Albert Place and outlining the various options available.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. that, as the minority party in the ownership of the roadway, the Council adopt the position that legal responsibility to carry out the work was a joint one, as contained within the title deeds of the sold properties and consistent with Section 13 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984; and
  2. that the owner/occupiers therefore be advised that the Council was not solely responsible for the maintenance of the unadopted section of Albert Place, but that if the owner/occupiers wished to proceed with the work on a cost-sharing basis, including the street lighting improvements, the Council would pay the required one-quarter share of the total agreed cost on completion, with each owner/occupier being responsible for a one-twelfth share of the cost, as contained within the title deeds.

9. GARAGE SITE IMPROVEMENTS ­ PROGRESS REPORT

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 29 September 1998, there was submitted Report No 24/01 by the Director of Housing advising members on the progress of the garage site improvement programme, and making recommendations for extending it to include upgrades to lock-up garage sites.

The Report concluded that to ensure that planned maintenance funds were managed in an efficient manner, it was essential that the budgets were flexible enough to allow different types of projects to be funded from a single budget. At the same time, it was important that an approved programme of improvements was maintained, allowing upgrades to take place, based on an agreed set of priorities.

The Committee agreed to amalgamate both priority lists into one list to create a combined garage site improvement programme, funded by a single garages and car parks budget.

10. HOUSING BRIEFINGS FOR COUNCILLORS

It was reported that information had been received from the Chartered Institute for Housing in Scotland that a series of briefings for Councillors had been organised in conjunction with CoSLA and the Scottish Executive at a cost of £20 plus VAT.

The briefings would ensure that elected members:-

  1. understood the context of and background to housing provision;
  2. were familiar with the current Housing Bill proposals, the most significant housing legislation for 20 years;
  3. were familiar with the role of housing policy and its relationship with the wider community; and
  4. were briefed on investment and resources in housing.

The Committee agreed that any elected member interested in attending the briefing (to be held in Dundee on Friday 9 February 2001 from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm at the Hilton Hotel) advise the Director of Housing so that the necessary arrangements could be made.

11. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved, in terms of Standing Order 27(2), that 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 to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10.

12. CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION FOR IMPROVEMENTS

There was submitted Report No 25/01 by the Director of Housing detailing improvements carried out by a previous tenant to Council property not covered by the statutory compensation scheme.

The Committee agreed to make an ex gratia payment to the former tenant referred to in the Report, equivalent to the statutory payment which would have been payable had she received prior written consent to carry out the improvement.

13. IMPROVEMENT GRANT APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER DELEGATED AUTHORITY

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 November 2000, there was submitted and noted Report No 2/01 by the Director of Planning and Transport detailing applications for improvement grants totalling £59,821 which had been approved under delegated authority.

14. REPAIR GRANT APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER DELEGATED AUTHORITY

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 November 2000, there was submitted and noted Report No 3/01 by the Director of Planning and Transport detailing the applications for repair grants totalling £20,335 which had been approved under delegated authority.

15. GROUND AT BALHALL CRESCENT, MENMUIR

There was submitted Report No 26/01 by the Director of Housing relating to an enquiry that had been received about ground at Balhall Crescent, Menmuir, as outlined in the plan attached to the Report.

The Committee agreed that the applicant be advised that the ground should remain as part of the general landscaping at Balhall Crescent, Menmuir.

16. POSSIBLE DISPOSAL OF GROUND AT FRASERS LANE, MONTROSE

There was submitted Report No 27/01 by the Director of Housing relating to the disposal of an area of ground at Frasers Lane, Montrose, as outlined in the plan attached to the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. that the area of ground in question be sold to the applicant at the agreed valuation, subject to consent being received from the Scottish Ministers;
  2. that all of the expenses of the transaction be borne by the applicant;
  3. that the sale of the ground be subject to the condition that it would only be used for access parking but not for the storage of materials or for development;
  4. that, if necessary, the applicant obtain planning permission; and
  5. that the requirements of the Roads Department were complied with.

17. POSSIBLE DISPOSAL OF GROUND AT GRAHAMSTON COTTAGES, ARBIRLOT, BY ARBROATH

There was submitted Report No 28/01 by the Director of Housing relating to the disposal of an area of ground adjacent to 12 Grahamston Cottages, Arbirlot, by Arbroath, as outlined in the plan attached to the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. that the area of ground, as detailed in the Report, be sold to the applicant at the agreed valuation, subject to consent being received from the Scottish Ministers;
  2. that Angus Council's reasonable expenses be met by the applicant;
  3. that a footpath around the boundary of the ground would be provided by the applicant to a specification and timescale as stipulated by the Council; and
  4. that no walls or fences should be erected or planting permitted to grow to a height in excess of 1 metre in height.

18. SERIOUS ARREARS CASES ­ HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT TENANTS

There was submitted Report No 29/01 by the Director of Housing regarding serious arrears of rent in respect of the four Council house tenants detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

The Committee agreed that all four cases be monitored and that approval be given to evict if regular payments to reduce the arrears were not received.

19. MODERNISATIONS AT GLAMIS ROAD AND MORRISON STREET, KIRRIEMUIR ­ SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT ON SELECTION OF CONTRACTORS TO THE TENDER LIST

With reference to Article 17 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 November 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 31/01 by the Director of Property Services and the Director of Housing giving details of the contractors who it was proposed to invite to tender for modernisation works at Glamis Road and Morrison Street, Kirriemuir.

COUNCILLOR ELLIS, SECONDED BY COUNCILLOR GLENNIS MIDDLETON, MOVED THE APPROVAL OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS, AS DETAILED IN THE REPORT.

Councillor Nield seconded by Councillor Myles, moved as an amendment, that one of the contractors be replaced by a listed reserve.

On a vote being taken, the members voted:-

For the motion: -

Councillors Ellis, Gray, Angus, McGlynn, Glennis Middleton and Roberton (6).

For the amendment:-

Councillors Myles, Nield and Norrie (3).

The motion was declared carried and therefore became the finding of the meeting.

The following matter was, on a determination of the Convener, dealt with as a matter or urgency, in order that the determination of the employment of the company proceed.

20. ANNUAL SERVICING AND ROUTINE MAINTENANCE OF GAS HEATING INSTALLATIONS (1 AUGUST 1999 TO 31 MARCH 2003) ­ DETERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT OF CONTRACTOR

With reference to Article 25 (c) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 10 August 1999, there was submitted Report No 78/01 by the Director of Property Services recommending that the Committee authorise the determination of the contract of employment of Maclean and Nuttall Ltd, Warrington, Cheshire, and seek to recover any additional costs to the Council.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to authorise the determination of the contract of employment of Maclean & Nuttall Ltd, Cheshire for the reasons stated in the Report;
  3. to authorise the Director of Property Services and the Director of Law and Administration to take appropriate action to seek to recover additional costs to the Council;
  4. to authorise the Director of Property Services to negotiate with WRB Gas, Dundee and JM Guild, Forfar to undertake the completion of the outstanding works for the current year ending on 31 March 2001; and
  5. to ask the Director of Property Services to bring forward a Report to the Committee with a detailed strategy and costs for the continuation of the gas servicing and maintenance work from the termination of the current yearly cycle on 31 March 2001.
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