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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Room B12, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

59.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was submitted on behalf of Councillor Kelly.

 

An apology for lateness was submitted on behalf of Councillor Coleman, who arrived during consideration of item 15 on the agenda.

60.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Managing Director.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

61.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 September 2018 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 6 September 2018 be confirmed as an accurate record.

62.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

63.

To receive the Minutes of the Cabinet Advisory Panel held on 29 October 2018

To follow

Minutes:

The Cabinet received the minutes of the Cabinet Advisory Panel held on Monday 29 October 2018 and had regard to the Panel’s views throughout the meeting.

64.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

65.

Government Consultation Green Papers: 'A New Deal for Social Housing' and 'Rents for Social Housing from 2020-21' pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Summary:

 

To seek approval to submit the draft consultation responses, attached at Appendices A and B to the report, to the Government by the deadline of 6 November 2018.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Cabinet approves the draft consultation responses attached at Appendices A and B to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the proposed responses to two Government Consultation Green Papers; ‘A New Deal for Social Housing’ and ‘Rents for Social Housing from 2020-21’ which were due to be submitted by 6 November 2018.

 

The main themes contained in the ‘A New Deal for Social Housing’ Green paper were:

 

·         The need for more investment in the existing stock, the introduction of an updated and enhanced Decent Homes Standard and to significantly increase the supply of new council and housing association homes.

·         The need to improve arrangements for handling residents’ complaints.

·         The need to improve accountability to residents, including by introducing housing management performance indicators and publishing them in annual league tables, alongside an enhanced role for the Social Housing Regulator.

·         The need to tackle the stigma experienced by residents in social housing and to encourage better landlord performance by encouraging professionalism in housing management, better neighbourhood management and action to tackle anti-social behaviour.

 

The second Green Paper ‘Rents for Social Housing from 2020-21’ proposed a continuation of formula rents for social rented units and affordable rents to be set at up to 80% of market rent with local authorities becoming subject to the new Rent Standard and annual rent increases of CPI + 1% and outlined the proposed changes and caps to other aspects of social rent formulae. 5% flexibility on formula rents would be restored (having previously been removed under rent reduction) and the 10% tolerance for supported housing would continue.

 

The Cabinet had regard to the views of the Cabinet Advisory Panel and in particular the view that the response to question 11 on the first consultation paper, ‘A New Deal for Social Housing’ which read “as above” warranted  a dedicated response and that this should emphasise that any safety concerns should be prioritised within the complaints process. As a result a revised response was submitted to the Cabinet for consideration as follows:

 

11. “How can we best ensure safety concerns are handled swiftly and effectively within the existing redress framework?

 

Safety concerns could be dealt with as part of the corporate complaints process with any safety concerns being prioritised or highlighted to relevant officers or departments for a swifter response”.

 

A view had also been expressed at the Cabinet Advisory Panel that the Council’s response to question 18 dealing with proposed Performance Indicators could have been more positive in terms of embracing the indicators for the sake of transparency and openness.

 

The Cabinet noted the views of the Cabinet Advisory Panel and agreed that the revised response to question 11 should be incorporated in the response for submission to the Government. In terms of performance measurement the Cabinet felt that the current arrangements were open and transparent and it was right that performance was monitored by the people closest to the service via the Tenants Forum. The Council also published an Annual Report which detailed service performance. The response to question 18 sought to make the point that whilst performance indicators were important they also had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Proposal to De-designate Housing Scheme Properties located in Meadowside Blocks and Jagger Close, Nursery Close and St John's Road pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Summary:

 

To consider proposals to de-designate a number of 1 bderoom Housing Scheme flats at Meadowside, Jagger Close, Nursery Close and St Johns Road for general needs use to  better utilise existing stock.

 

There are no proposals to decant residents and the units will be re-let to tenants with general needs as and when they become void. All of the units proposed for de-designation are street properties and do not form part of any enclosed unit or communal space.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the de-designation of the 1 bedroom Housing Scheme flats at Meadowside, Jagger Close, Nursery Close and St Johns Road for general needs use, to better utilise existing stock and provide for general needs accommodation, be approved.    

Minutes:

Members considered a report which set out proposals to de-designate a number of one bedroom Housing Scheme flats located in Meadowside blocks, Jagger Close, Nursery Close and St John’s Road for general needs use  to better utilise existing housing stock. Since 2012 three of the fourteen Housing Schemes managed by the Council had been subject to a gradual de-designation process as properties became void and so far 96 one bedroom properties had been transferred into much needed general needs accommodation. During this process it had become clear that there were another 34 ex-annex properties adjacent to Housing Schemes which were more suited to being general needs accommodation which could be de-designated. There were no proposals to decant residents in these properties and they would be re-let to tenants with general needs as and when they became vacant. All the units proposed for de-designation were street properties and did not form part of any enclosed unit or communal space.

 

The Cabinet had regard to the views of the Cabinet Advisory Panel and the concerns raised by a Member that he felt there was a lack of specialist/adapted housing in Dartford at a time when it was proposed to lose 34 supported housing units. He felt that it was important for the Cabinet to be satisfied that there was a rebalancing of specialised housing in the Borough.

 

The Cabinet felt that the proposals to de-designate the properties was part of the process of rebalancing the housing stock and noted that the properties concerned were unsuitable for older residents and those who required the greatest degree of support. This was reflected in the lack of take-up when the properties became void. There were currently 40 people on the Housing Register looking for supported accommodation and even so scheme properties were often difficult to let. 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the de-designation of the 1 bedroom Housing Scheme flats at Meadowside, Jagger Close, Nursery Close and St Johns Road for general needs use to better utilise existing stock and provide for general needs accommodation be approved.   

 

67.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018 pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the implications of the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 which came into force on 1st October 2018 which provide an updated licensing framework in England for five activities involving animals, selling animals as pets, providing or arranging the provision of boarding for cats/dogs, hiring out horses, dog breeding and keeping or training animals for exhibition (performing animals). The introduction of the new regulations will impact upon the work of the Environmental Protection Team and has highlighted the need to revise procedures and the associated fee structure.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.  That the changes required by the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018 be noted;

 

2.  That the associated fee structure produced in accordance with the DEFRA guidance as set out in paragraph 3.50 of the report be agreed; and

 

3.  That the enforcement approach set out in paragraphs 3.35 to 3.39 of the report be agreed.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which detailed the implications arising from the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018 which came into force on 1st October 2018. The new legislation introduced an updated licensing framework in England for five activities involving animals, selling animals as pets, providing or arranging the provision of boarding for cats/dogs, hiring out horses, dog breeding and keeping or training of animals for exhibition (performing animals). Dangerous Wild Animals and Zoos were not covered in the new regulations and existing separate licensing arrangements applied.

 

In future licenses for the activities under the new regulations would be determined by the application of national standards with less local discretion and licenses would attach to the activity rather than to individual premises and they would carry a star rating. Licenses could be awarded for 1-3 years with fees being set nationally and being partially determined upon the star rating applied to each license. A revised fee structure based on DEFRA guidance was also proposed on the basis of cost recovery and would represent an increase in the cost of licences commensurate with the increase in the work underpinning the new licensing framework.

 

Under the previous licensing arrangements the Council had issued 22 licences and had estimated that this could increase to around 60 licences  because of requirements applying to previously unlicenced activities such as dog creches, advertising animals for sale and dog breeding where the breeder had an annual operational income of £1,000. The Regulations would result in an increase in inspections and in administering the licensing process which was estimated to equate to between 0.1 to 0.3fte. Administration of the new licensing regime would continue to be undertaken by the Environmental Health Admin Team. There were also new requirements to send an annual return to DEFRA.

 

Due to delays in DEFRA releasing guidance on the 2018 Regulations there were still many matters on which clarification was required and because of this, and delays in publishing licensing application forms and setting fees for businesses, it was likely that for a period of time after 1st October when the new Regulations came into force licensing activities would remain unregulated. The Council had however worked very hard in the limited time available to promote awareness of the new requirements and had contacted all existing licence holders to inform them of the changes.

 

The Cabinet had regard to the views of the Cabinet Advisory Panel which had broadly welcomed the introduction of the new Regulations. However concern was expressed about the delays by DEFRA in issuing guidance and publishing licence application forms and assurance had been sought that the anticipated increase in workload for staff would be adequately resourced. Concerns were also expressed about the wording of paragraph 3.37 of the report which said that the Council would not seek to take enforcement action against a business operating without a licence before April 2019, despite the Regulations taking effect from 1st  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.

68.

Housing Benefit Overpayment Write-Offs pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the write-off of a Housing Benefit overpayment where recovery is prohibited, is not considered appropriate or where the customer has absconded.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the sum of £74,625.51, shown in the exempt Appendix A to the report, be written off as irrecoverable.

Minutes:

Members considered a report which proposed to write-off Housing Benefit overpayments amounting to £74,625.51 where recovery was prohibited, was not considered appropriate or where the customer had absconded. Details of individual cases were contained in the exempt appendix to the report.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the sum of £74,625.51 shown in the exempt Appendix A to the report be written off as irrecoverable.

 

69.

Write Off of National Non-Domestic Rates pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Summary:

 

To consider writing-off Non-Domestic Rate debts where it has not been possible to obtain payment because of insolvency, because the ratepayer cannot be traced or where the debt is otherwise irrecoverable.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the sums shown in exempt Appendix A to the report, amounting to £270,946.80, be written off as uncollectable.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report and an addendum which proposed to write-off National Non-Domestic Rates amounting to £270,406.80 where it had not been possible to obtain payment because of insolvency, because the ratepayer could not be traced or where the debt was otherwise irrecoverable.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the sums shown in the exempt Appendix A contained in the addendum to the report amounting to £270,406.80 be written off as uncollectable.

 

70.

Revenue Budget Monitoring 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Summary:

 

To update Members on financial performance against the 2018/19 budget to date for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Members note that the overall spend and income for the year is expected to be within the parameters of the budget.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which detailed financial performance against the Council’s General Fund and Housing Revenue Account budgets for 2018/19 as at 30 September 2018.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That Cabinet notes that the overall level of spend and income for the year is expected to be within the parameters of the budget.

 

71.

Capital Budget Monitoring 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Summary:

 

To inform Cabinet of the progress to date on the schemes in the approved Capital Programme, and to report the latest position on capital resources.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.     That progress made to date on the 2018/19 Capital Programme be noted; and

 

2.     That the current position on the Capital Prudential Indicators, as shown in Appendix C to the report, be noted.           

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered a report which set out progress to date on the schemes contained in the approved Capital Programme and reported the latest position on capital resources. It was confirmed that works to the wall at Acacia were progressing according to programme although there were still some issues with the river works.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.    That progress to date on the 2018/19 Capital Programme be noted; and

 

2.    That the current position on the Capital Prudential Indicators contained in Appendix C to the report be noted.

72.

Treasury Management Mid-Year Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Summary:

 

To inform the Cabinet of the investment performance of the Council’s internally and externally managed funds to 30 September 2018 and to update the Treasury Indicators for the six months to 30 September 2018.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.     That Cabinet notes the investment performance of the Council’s funds; and

 

2.     That the Cabinet notes the half-year position of the Council’s Treasury Indicators.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which described the investment performance of the Council’s internally and externally managed funds to 30 September 2018 and presented updated Treasury Indicators for the six months to September 2018. It was noted that investment performance was ahead of budget although there were still uncertainties about the possible impact of Brexit. The Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Strategic Council Finances & Major Capital Projects raised an issue relating to investment returns on the charitable funds under the remit of the Deed, Trust and Obligations Committee (DTOC) which he felt could be higher if disassociated from the Council’s investment portfolio. The Managing Director explained that if DTOC wished to go down this route it would need to take separate and independent advice but that currently the association with the Council’s portfolio guaranteed that the DTOC funds would not suffer from a negative return which might not otherwise be the case.     

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the investment performance of the Council’s funds to 30 September 2018 be noted; and

 

2.    That the half-year position of the Council’s Treasury Indicators be noted.

 

73.

Minutes of the Policy Overview Committee meeting on 11 September 2018 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider and note the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 11 September 2018.

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 11 September 2018 be noted.

74.

Delegated Decision under SO38 - Repairs to 15 Wilkinson Close, Dartford pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Summary

 

To report to Cabinet, in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 38(2)(b), the delegated action taken under Standing Order 38(2)(a) by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, in relation to the approval to carry out urgent repair works to 15 Wilkinson Close, Dartford which was damaged in a storm. The building is in an unsafe condition and the building works needed to be carried out as a matter of urgency.

 

Recommendation

 

That Cabinet note the action taken by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, under Standing Order 38(2)(a), in relation to carrying out urgent repair works to 15 Wilkinson Close, Dartford.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which detailed delegated action taken by the Managing Direction under Standing Order 38(2)(a), in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, to approve urgent repair works to 15 Wilkinson Close, Dartford which was damaged by a storm. The building had been in an unsafe condition and the works had needed to be carried out as a matter of urgency. It was noted that the cost of the repair work had been attached as a charge on the property and would ultimately be recovered.

 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the action taken by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Chairman of the Cabinet, under Standing Order 38(2)(a), in relation to carrying out urgent repair works to 15 Wilkinson Close, Dartford be noted.

75.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of agenda items A and B on the grounds that these involve the likely disclosure of exempt information.

 

No members of the press or public were present during discussion of these items of business.

76.

Housing Benefit Overpayment Write offs - Exempt Appendix A
(Exempt Category SO46 (1)(b) Annex 1 Paragraphs 1 and 3)

Minutes:

During consideration of the main report (minute 68 above) clarification was sought and received on one of the proposed overpayment write-offs.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That following consideration of the main report the exempt appendix be noted.

77.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic rates - Exempt Appendix A
(Exempt Category SO46 (1)(b) Annex 1 Paragragh 3)

Minutes:

During consideration of the main report (minute 69 above) clarification was sought and received on one of the proposed NNDR write-offs.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That following consideration of the main report the appendix be noted.