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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Lees, Read, M B Kelly and Swinerd.

2.

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.

3.

Items Reserved for Debate

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that the following agenda item(s) had been drawn down for debate:

 

8.

Proposal to De-designate Housing Scheme Properties located in Meadowside Blocks and Jagger close, Nursery Close and St John’s Road

9

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018

 

The Chairman explained that he would be taking item 9 ahead of item 8 to allow officers to leave at the end of that item.

 

Accordingly, Members endorsed the Officer recommendations in respect of the following items:

 

10

Housing Benefit Overpayment Write-Offs

11

Write Off of National Non-Domestic Rates

12

Revenue Budget Monitoring 2018/19

13

Capital Budget Monitoring 2018/19

14

Treasury Management Mid-Year Report 2018/19

15

Minutes of the Policy Overview Committee Meeting held on 11 September 2018

16

Delegated Decision under SO38 – Repairs to Wilkinson Close, Dartford

A

Housing Benefit Overpayment Write Offs – Exempt Appendix A

B

Write Off of National Non-Domestic Rates – Exempt Appendix A

 

4.

Declarations of Interest on Items Reserved for Debate Only

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 in respect of items in Part A of the agenda or the items drawn down for debate.

 

Councillor Maddison explained that he was a trustee of a local RSPCA group and Officers confirmed that this did not constitute an interest for the purposes of discussion on item 9, The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018.

5.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

6.

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 Advisory Panel 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 Housing policy Manager introduced the report. 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; and

·         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 response to the first consultation paper, ‘A New Deal for Social Housing’ was discussed. A Member asked whether the response to question 3 could include a reference to decent homes having decent spatial standards to prevent overcrowding as he believed spatial standards were becoming smaller. It was explained that spatial standards were addressed as part of the planning considerations. The Member also queried the response to question 11 which read “as above” and felt that this required a dedicated response and that this should emphasise that any safety concerns should be prioritised. He also said that the response to question 38 referred to the 50th anniversary of the NHS but that this should be the 70th anniversary.

 

A Member welcomed the Government’s U-turn on higher value assets and the retention of rent caps but was disappointed that the Council’s response to question 18 had not been more positive in terms of publishing key performance indicators. He said that the Council had Service Level Agreements for repairs and maintenance and these were either being met or not and that if targets were not being met this should not be obscured by any narrative. He wanted the Council to embrace performance indicators for the sake of openness and transparency and this was also what the Government wanted.

 

The Chairman said that the Council had had too many meaningless performance indicators in the past and had moved away from this approach and that it was important to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

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.

Minutes:

The Assistant Environmental Health Manager (Environmental Protection) introduced 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.

 

A Member welcomed the legislation but raised concerns about implementation. He felt that the Council should not condone anyone who needed a licence under the regulations continuing to operate without one as they were committing a criminal offence. He was also concerned about the potential workload for officers, particularly as all existing licences were due for renewal on 1st January 2019 and sought assurance that sufficient resources were in place to deal with the extra work.   The Assistant Environmental Health Manager (Environmental Protection) explained the work that had been carried out with existing licence holders  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

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:

The Advisory Panel 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.

 

A Member said that whilst he understood the rationale behind the proposals he asked what action the Council would be taking to replenish the 34 supported housing units that would be lost. The Strategic Director (External Services) explained that there was currently overprovision of supported housing units in Dartford. There was demand for general needs accommodation and the units that were to be de-designated were not very suitable as supported units and that voids had not been filled quickly for that reason. To counter this issue the age limit had been reduced to 55 but even so there had been low take-up and the properties were often allocated to people from outside of Dartford (although with a Dartford connection), despite the aim to let properties predominantly to Dartford residents.

 

The Member asked what the projected need for supported housing accommodation was for the next 5 years. The Strategic Director (External Services) said that she would provide him with that information. The Member said that 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 Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report with the comments made by Members.   

9.

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:

The Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

10.

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 Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

11.

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 Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

12.

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:

The Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

13.

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 Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

14.

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:

The Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

15.

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 Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

16.

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

Minutes:

The Advisory Panel noted the content of the exempt Appendix.

17.

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

Minutes:

The Advisory Panel noted the content of the exempt Appendix.