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MINUTE of MEETING of the HOUSING COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 19 February 2002 at 4.30 pm.

Present: Councillors FRANK ELLIS, ALISTAIR GRAY, IAN ANGUS, BILL CROWE, JOY MOWATT, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE MBE, BILL ROBERTON and SHEENA WELSH.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors STEWART McGLYNN and GLENNIS MIDDLETON.

Councillor ELLIS, Convener, in the Chair.

1. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 January 2002 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

2. HOUSING CAPITAL PROGRAMME ­ HRA BLOCK ­ 2001/2002 AND HOUSING REVENUE ­ PLANNED MAINTENANCE PROGRAMME ­ 2001/2002

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 January 2002, there was submitted Report No 227/02 by the Director of Finance setting out the latest position on the HRA Housing Capital Programme and the HRA Planned Maintenance Programme. The Report also detailed the latest estimate for the year and the spend figures to the end of December 2001.

The Report noted that the spend achieved to 31 December 2001 on the Housing Capital Programme was £5.205m. This included internal fees to 30 September 2001 and was consistent with the work programmes devised to achieve the full year's programme. With regard to the Planned Maintenance Programme, spend was 51% of the budget, but the total spend for the year was currently assumed to be £1.030m. This would be closely monitored and referred to in future Reports.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the figures presented for both the Capital and Planned Maintenance Programmes.

3. HOME ENERGY CONSERVATION ACT (HECA) ­ SECOND PROGRESS REPORT

The Committee noted that under the terms of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995, Angus Council was required to report periodically to the Scottish Executive on the progress being made towards achieving the energy efficiency targets set out in the Council's HECA Strategy.

Four years on from that document being published (November 1997), the second progress Report had been prepared and had been submitted to the Scottish Executive by the required date of 31 January 2002.

The Committee noted that the progress Report showed a calculated 6.7% reduction in domestic fuel use in Angus for the two year period between 1 April 1999 and 31 March 2001, and a 6.4% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions for the corresponding period.

4. HEAT PUMP FEASIBILITY STUDY ­ SHELTERED HOUSING

There was submitted Report No 228/02 by the Director of Housing advising members of the successful grant application made to the Scottish Energy Efficiency Office, under the Scottish Clean Energy Demonstration Scheme, to part-fund a feasibility study into the use of ground source heat pumps at three Angus Council sheltered housing sites. This feasibility study would show whether heat pumps were appropriate. The study, which had commenced in February, would compare costs and potential performance, and then recommend the best course of action. Once results were known, the recommendations would be reported back to a future meeting. As three sheltered housing sites would soon require their heating system plant refurbished or replaced, it was an ideal time to investigate the use of alternative more sustainable fuel sources.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

5. UPGRADING OF CABBAGE ROAD, OFF NORTHESK ROAD, MONTROSE

There was submitted Report No 229/02 by the Director of Housing advising the Committee of the proposal to upgrade the unadopted road, known locally as Cabbage Road, which was accessed off North Esk Road, Montrose, as detailed in the plan attached to the Report.

The Report indicated that as Cabbage Road provided a means of access to a range of properties, as well as being used for casual parking by the general public, it was felt that the best course of action would be for the Housing and Social Work Departments to fund jointly the upgrading of the road to a standard whereby it could be put forward for addition to the List of Public Roads and, subject to successful conclusion of the adopted procedure, thereafter be managed and maintained by the Roads Department.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to fund jointly with the Social Work Committee the work to bring the unadopted road, known as Cabbage Road, Montrose, up to a reasonable standard whereby it could be recommended for adoption by the Roads Department, who would then take over responsibility for future maintenance.

6. HOUSE CONDITION ON RELET

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 20 February 2001, there was submitted Report No 210/02 by the Director of Housing advising the Committee of proposed lettings standards, aimed at ensuring that all Angus Council housing was of good standard when being offered for relet.

The Report advised that these standards would ensure that both the internal and external areas of the properties were in a satisfactory condition before an offer was made to a future tenant. A copy of the standards was attached to the Report as Appendices 1, 2 and 3.

The Report indicated that the intention was that an agreed standard of let, a clear statement of responsibility for both tenant and landlord, together with an evaluation of customer satisfaction levels, would improve the time taken to allocate housing and would identify opportunities for further service improvements.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. that the measures detailed in Appendices 1 and 2 form the standard of house condition on relet to be achieved on every Housing Revenue Account casual vacancy
  2. that the factors, as detailed in Appendix 3, be adopted as reasonable expectations from tenants in the conduct of their tenancies; and
  3. that the following additional condition be included in Appendix 3.

"on termination of your tenancy, the house is left in a reasonable condition otherwise you may be recharged the costs of bringing the house up to the required standard".

7. SALE DAY OF HOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND COMPOSTER PRODUCTS

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Committee of 19 February 2002, there was submitted Joint Report No 225/02 by the Director of Housing and Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee of the proposal to hold a public sale of domestic energy efficiency products and home "composter" bins.

The Report noted that similar sale days had been held in Perth and Kinross, Edinburgh and several cities in England and had proved to be very successful, both in terms of selling large numbers of products, and in terms of raising public interest in the issue of sustainability. The sale would be organised in partnership with Blackwall Ltd, (manufacturer of the bins who would also handle logistics), Scottish & Southern Energy Ltd (funding partner), and local retailers. The sales would be held at two locations, one in Arbroath and one in Forfar, on the same Sunday in May 2002. Special delivery arrangements would be made for householders with mobility or transport problems.

The Report concluded that the proposed sale day of sustainability products would help Angus Council meet targets set out in the HECA Strategy, Environment Strategy, and draft Local Agenda 21 Strategy.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the proposed one day sale.

8. TENANTS' REPAIR SATISFACTION LETTER

With reference to Article 15 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 August 2001, there was submitted Report No 211/02 by the Director of Housing which gave details of the satisfactory outcome of the pilot (Kirriemuir area) exercise in issuing tenants' repair satisfaction letters and advised the Committee of the proposed extension to all other areas in Angus from week commencing 25 February 2002. This would allow responses and relevant statistics to be gathered, enabling local/trade variations in performance etc. to be monitored and used to improve overall customer satisfaction levels. The results would also be used to monitor contractor performance in terms of quality, speed and related matters.

The Committee noted the very satisfactory outcome in relation to the pilot area and agreed that the practice be introduced in all areas with effect from 25 February 2002 with the cost effectiveness of the process being regularly monitored.

9. MODERNISATION/IMPROVEMENTS AND TRANSFER INCENTIVE PACKAGE ­ REVIEW OF REDECORATION/DISTURBANCE ALLOWANCES

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 January 2001, there was submitted Report No 212/02 by the Director of Housing reiterating the Council policy in relation to the modernisation of Council housing and 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 regarding decoration.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to reiterate its stated policy in relation to the modernisation of Council housing;
  2. 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 2002;
  3. 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); and
  4. in future, to adjust annually the allowances and package measures detailed in the Report (in accordance with the Retail Price Index) and to delegate implementation of such charges to the Director of Housing in consultation with the Director of Finance.

Councillors Crowe and Gray declared an interest in the following item.

10. HOUSING (SCOTLAND) ACT 2001 ­ IMPLEMENTATION FUNDING ­ HOMELESSNESS

There was submitted Report No 231/02 by the Director of Housing advising the Committee on the allocation of Implementation Funding for homelessness duties under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 to Angus Council and the proposed outcomes which would be achieved with the new monies.

The Report indicated that the Council would have had difficulty in implementing the new duties in the absence of additional resources. However, it was anticipated that ongoing revenue funding would be required to ensure that homelessness could be tackled effectively in the long term. It was also anticipated that a significant increase in capital funding would be required over the next few years to ensure that there was an adequate supply of temporary accommodation and support services to meet the wide ranging and fluctuating needs of many people who experienced homelessness.

While the new money was to be welcomed and the need for appropriate monitoring and evaluation arrangements was recognised, this was yet another area of change which required to be incorporated into the workload of an increasingly stretched staffing complement to "kick-start" the process. In addition to this, the timescale for having to devise local outcome agreements did not allow sufficient time for meaningful consultation with partner agencies to ensure that proposals were fully agreed.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the funding allocation for implementing the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001;
  2. to homologate the outcome agreement for 2001/2002;
  3. to approve the proposed outcome agreement for 2002/2004; and
  4. that in the context of Community Planning, the Report be submitted to the joint Health, Community Safety and Community Care Partnership, for their interest.

11. COUNCIL HOUSE SALES

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 6 November 2001, there was submitted and noted Report No 232/02 by the Director of Finance detailing Council House Sales for the period to 31 December 2001.

12. HOUSING ALLOCATION POLICY ­ COMMUNITY BASED LETTINGS PLANS

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 20 February 2001, there was submitted Report No 213/02 by the Director of Housing detailing significant factors impacting on the allocation of Council housing. The issues covered included statutory provisions and local initiatives, as detailed in the various Appendices attached to the Report.

The Report advised that, to achieve the objectives of the new Allocations Policy and meet the conditions imposed by legislation etc., the Community Based Letting Plans were to be introduced from April 2002.

The move to needs based assessment would undoubtedly be of greater benefit to those requiring re-housing or who were inadequately housed, rather than those choosing to move with little or no attendant housing need. At a time of constrained resources, the Council was required to ensure available housing was used to meet those in greatest need and, to that end, the Community Based Lettings Plans would achieve that.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the statutory requirements now imposed on Angus Council concerning allocations (detailed in Appendix H to the Report) and that the new Lettings Policy met those requirements:
  2. to approve the finalised new Allocations Policy, as contained in the Housefacts leaflet TA1; and
  3. to approve the individual Community Based Lettings Plans (CBLPs) recommendations as detailed in Appendices A ­ G.

Councillors Ellis and Gray declared an interest in the following item.

13. ANGUS COUNCIL RESPONSE TO COMMUNITIES SCOTLAND'S HOUSING MARKET CONTEXT STATEMENT FOR TAYSIDE

There was submitted Report No 215/02 by the Director of Housing, in consultation with the Chief Officers' Management Team advising the Committee of the response submitted to Communities Scotland regarding the draft Housing Market Context Statement for Tayside.

The statement provided an overview of the broader strategic and environmental context within which housing markets operated and also considered any stresses and problems, particularly those which extended beyond a local authority's administrative boundaries.

The Report advised that the opportunity to comment on the draft Housing Market Context Statement for Tayside had enabled issues, not covered in the draft, to be brought to the attention of Communities Scotland.

The Committee agreed to homologate the response that had been submitted to Communities Scotland in regard to the draft Housing Market Context Statement for Tayside.

14. THE ANGUS PROTOCOL ON SEX OFFENDERS ­ HOUSING PROTOCOL

There was submitted Report No 234/02 by the Director of Housing advising the Committee of the protocol between the Housing Department, Social Work (Criminal Justice Services) and Tayside Police.

The Report advised that the introduction of this protocol would make a positive contribution to community safety. Sex offenders who were homeless and highly mobile were very hard to monitor and therefore posed a greater risk to the community. The provision of stable accommodation (where appropriate) should assist in minimising the risk of offences.

The Committee agreed to implement the protocol on the housing of sex offenders, as detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

15. 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 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 4, 6, 8 and 9.

16. IMPROVEMENT GRANT APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER DELEGATED AUTHORITY

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 January 2002, there was submitted and noted Report No 194/02 by the Director of Planning and Transport detailing applications for improvement grants totalling £44,125.71, which had been approved under delegated authority.

17. REPAIR GRANT APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER DELEGATED AUTHORITY

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 January 2002, there was submitted and noted Report No 195/02 by the Director of Planning and Transport detailing applications for repair grants, totalling £27,652.63, which had been approved under delegated authority.

18. COUNCIL HOUSE SALES ­ QUARTERLY SCHEDULES

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 6 November 2001, there was submitted and noted Report No 233/02 by the Director of Finance which detailed individual Council House Sales for the third quarter of 2001/2002.

19. CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION FOR IMPROVEMENTS

There was submitted Report No 226/02 by the Director of Housing advising the Committee of improvements carried out by a previous tenant of Council property not covered by the Statutory Compensation Scheme.

The Committee noted the contents of the Report and agreed to authorise an ex-gratia payment to the former tenant.

20. CLOSING ORDER

There was submitted Report No 235/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection regarding two properties which failed to meet the "Tolerable Standard" as described in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.

The Committee agreed to recommend to the Council that a Closing Order be placed on Nos 1 and 2 Seafield Farm Cottages, By Arbroath.

21. SERIOUS ARREARS CASES- HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT TENANTS

There was submitted Report No 216/02 by the Director of Housing regarding serious arrears of rent in respect of twenty two Council house tenants, as detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

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

22. TENDER LISTS

(a) Window and Door Replacements at Brechin and Edzell

There was submitted Report No 236/02 by the Director of Property Services proposing that a list of contractors be invited to tender for window and door replacements at Brechin and Edzell.

The Report advised that given the extensive programme of works to be completed within the restricted timescale, it might be necessary to limit the number of projects awarded to any one contractor to avoid over-commitment of resources.

The Committee agreed that the following six contractors be invited to tender and that the reserve be considered only if any of the six declined the invitation to tender, all subject to any financial assessment as required by the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Director of Property Services:-

(b) Window and Door Replacements at Carnoustie and Arbroath

There was submitted Report No 237/02 by the Director of Property Services proposing that a list of contractors be invited to tender for window and door replacements at Carnoustie and Arbroath.

The Report advised that given the extensive programme of works to be completed within the restricted timescale, it might be necessary to limit the number of projects awarded to any one contractor to avoid over-commitment of resources.

The Committee agreed that the following four contractors be invited to tender subject to any financial assessment as required by the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Director of Property Services:-

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