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Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet Advisory Panel B
Monday 4 March 2019 7.00 pm

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 Bardoe, Burrell, Hammock, McLean, Mote and Page.

2.

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 interest.

3.

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.

4.

Items Reserved for Debate

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that no items from parts B, C or D of the agenda had been drawn down for debate.

 

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

 

11. Write-Off of National Non-Domestic Rates

 

12. Write-Off of Housing Benefit Overpayments

 

13. Design for Ebbsfleet

 

14. Homelessness Update – Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

 

15. Corporate Plan – Key Actions and Performance Indicators for the Third Quarter of 2018-19

 

16. Report of Delegated Action taken under Standing Order 38: Award of the Contract for the Inspection and Maintenance of Playgrounds

 

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

 

B.     Write-Off of Housing Benefit Overpayments – Exempt Appendix A

 

5.

Declarations of Interest on Items Reserved for Debate Only

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

6.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that it was likely that there would be a reference to the Cabinet arising from a proposed amendment to the Council’s budget from the General Assembly of the Council (Budget) meeting held on 25 February 2019. This related to abolishing the fees charged for infant burials. A report was currently being prepared for consideration by the Cabinet. 

7.

Consultation on the Kent Minerals Sites Plan and Review of the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Summary:

 

To seek the Cabinet’s views on the proposed responses to Kent County Council’s current round of consultation on the publication (Regulation 19 pre-submission) versions of the Kent Minerals Sites Plan and the Early Partial Review of the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Council’s responses to the Kent Minerals Sites Plan and the Early Partial Review of the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan, set out in Appendices A and B to the report, be endorsed. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered the Council’s proposed response to the latest round of public consultation being carried out by Kent County Council on its publication (Regulation 19 pre-submission) versions of the Kent Minerals Sites Plan and the Early Partial Review of the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan.

The Planning Policy Manager explained that when the Council received an application the starting point was applying the provisions of the Local Plan but that KCC was responsible for plans relating to mineral extraction. The Council had commented during an earlier round of consultation and KCC had amended parts of the Plans accordingly.  The previous consultation had included proposed minerals sites at Central Road and Joyce Green Quarry, Dartford, to which the Council objected.  These sites had not been taken forward so it was recommended that the Council should support the proposed minerals sites.  The earlier consultation also included changes to the policy for safeguarding mineral resources, which could affect Dartford’s ability to achieve objectives set out in the Council’s Core Strategy.  The current consultation continued to include changes to this policy, despite concerns raised by the Council and other authorities in Kent, and it was recommended that the Council should maintain its objection to this as it could be detrimental to future development.

A Member welcomed the removal of the proposed mineral sites at Central Road and Joyce Green Quarry but asked whether KCC would have scope to resurrect these proposals in the future by applying the changes to the policy for safeguarding mineral resources. The Planning Policy Manager explained that this was not a particular concern as KCC had identified alternative provision. A Member asked about the level of consultation with KCC and was advised that there had been a county-wide meeting and good communication between planning departments.

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report and felt that it was important that a robust response was sent to KCC.

8.

Housing Repairs and Maintenance Measured Term Contract pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Summary:

 

To seek approval to commence the tender of the Housing Repairs and Maintenance Measured Term Contract. The current contract ends on 31 March 2020.

 

Recommendation:

 

That, subject to compliance with EU procurement rules, the Strategic Director (External Services) be authorised to tender the Housing Repairs and Maintenance Contract and enter into a contract with the successful bidder on terms to be agreed with the Head of Legal Services to commence on 1 April 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered a report which sought approval to commence the tender of the Housing Repairs and Maintenance Measured Term Contract. The current contract covered all responsive repairs, planned maintenance and capital works to the Council’s 4224 properties and 1309 garages and also delivered repairs and improvements to communal areas and external works to 462 leaseholder properties and was due to end on 31st March 2020.  The annual value of the contract was in the region of £7M per annum (£2.5M for reactive, voids, and out-of-hours repairs and £4.5M for capital and disabled adaptations works) and it was proposed to combine these works into a single 5 year contract to make the contract more attractive to potential tenderers and to generate efficiency savings for the Council with options to extend the contract for two further terms. The total estimated contract value could therefore be £108M over a fifteen year period to be met from the Housing Revenue Account.

 

The Head of Housing explained that this was one of the biggest contracts offered by the Council and was the most used of all the services the Housing Team provided. The procurement process was therefore designed to ensure that the Council received an excellent service which met tenants’ needs and also delivered value for money. He explained the consultation process would include the Residents’ Forum, Councillors and other key stakeholders with the intention of reporting the outcome of the tender process to Cabinet in December 2019 in time for the new contract to start in April 2020.

 

A Member asked whether the proposed duration of the contract, which could amount to a fifteen year period without being re-tendered, was considered to be appropriate for a contract of this nature. The Head of Housing explained that there were no set views about this among procurement professionals but a contract of this duration was not unusual and there were clear break clauses which meant that it could be ended quickly if this proved to be necessary. Contracts offered on a short timescale tended to attract high price tenders so it was a question of striking a good balance. Another Member asked whether the contract would be designed to “lever-in” community benefit to keep expenditure in the local economy. The Head of Housing explained that a major element of the evaluation process focussed on quality and that this included factors such as the use of local contractors and provision of apprenticeships. A Member asked whether there would be any stipulations around retention payments where work was sub-contracted. The Head of Housing said that it would not be possible to impose terms on sub-contracted work but that he expected sub-contractors to be treated fairly, and part of the procurement assessment would include the tenderer’s track record as a good employer. The Council would also look to make payment of sub-contractors within 30 days a key performance indicator for the service. However most of the work under the contract would be provided by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Draft Major Works and Service Charges Policy for Leaseholders pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Summary:

 

The draft Major Works and Service Charges Policy has been promulgated to an overarching policy to include a range of information for leaseholders on charges, payment options, legislative information and types of major works.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the draft Major Works and Service Charges Policy for Leaseholders, attached at Appendix A to the report, be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered the proposed draft Major Works and Service Charges Policy for Leaseholders which set out the terms on which the Council would seek to recover major works costs incurred on leasehold properties by recharging respective leaseholders.

 

The Head of Housing explained that the Council had c.350 leaseholders who had purchased leases under right-to-buy provisions and who remained responsible to contribute to works carried out by the Council to their properties. There were two types of leaseholders, those who had purchased a leasehold property as an investment opportunity and those who had purchased the property to live in themselves. The policy was designed to help resident leaseholders by being informative and clear over mutual obligations. The policy contained information for leaseholders on charges, payment options, legislative information and types of major works and attempted to balance the Council’s financial requirements, including cash flow issues, whilst allowing fair and transparent repayment terms for leaseholders.

 

A Member asked how cases of hardship would be determined and was advised that there was a comprehensive assessment process and the policy was integral to this process. Another Member welcomed the introduction of a policy and the importance of giving leaseholders sufficient advance notice of when works would be carried out and payments required so that they could make their own financial plans and whether a 5 year notice period could be included in the policy. The Head of Housing recognised the importance of advance notice, and in practice at least 3 years notice was usually given. He said that it would not be practical to guarantee a minimum notice period of 5 years as sometimes projects had to be re-phased.      

 

Members welcomed the introduction of the proposed policy and endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.  

10.

Draft Policy for Offering Accommodation in Discharge of the Council's Homelessness Functions pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the Council’s draft policy in relation to the accommodation of homeless households in long term temporary accommodation and private rented sector accommodation, where there is a main housing duty under the relevant homeless legislation. The policy covers households placed both inside and outside of the Borough.

 

Recommendation:

 

That, for the reasons outlined in the body of the report, the draft Policy for Offering Accommodation in Discharge of the Council’s Homelessness Functions, attached at Appendix A to the report, be endorsed.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered the Council’s Draft Policy for Offering Accommodation in Discharge of the Council’s Homelessness Functions. This related to accommodation of homeless households in long term temporary accommodation and private rented sector accommodation where there was a housing duty upon the Council under the relevant homeless legislation and applied to households placed both inside and outside the Borough.

 

The Head of Housing explained that the policy met the requirements of legislation and recent case-law and had been drafted to ensure that the Council had robust and transparent procedures in place for the procurement and allocation of long term temporary and private sector accommodation. Whilst the Council sought to place as many applicants as possible within the borough this was sometimes not possible due to lack of suitable accommodation but the policy set out arrangements through which the Council sought to move people in out-of-borough placements back to Dartford once accommodation was available and to more actively manage the service against particular criteria. The policy explained how processes were applied and sought to be clear and transparent.

 

A Member congratulated the Head of Housing on the service provided by his department. Another Member said that the outcome of the legal cases quoted in the report seemed heavily weighted in favour of the local authorities concerned and wondered whether this was inherent in the legislation. The Head of Housing said that in Brent case it had been a straightforward case of someone not wishing to accept a suitable offer but he was uncertain of the detail of the Westminster case but would find out and advise the Member accordingly, but at the end of the day it depended on the circumstances in each case. A Member questioned the need for the provision in paragraph 4.2 of the draft policy whereby the Council retained the right, where appropriate, to hold back accommodation within Zone A in anticipation of particular needs. The Head of Housing explained that this would only apply in exceptional circumstances, where for example he had advance notice of forthcoming homelessness on a significant scale.  

 

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

11.

Write Off of National Non-Domestic Rates pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Summary:

 

To consider writing-off National Non-Domestic Rates 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 in the confidential part of the report, amounting to £77,939.84, be written-off as uncollectable.

 

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

12.

Write-off of Housing Benefit Overpayments pdf icon PDF 64 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 £37,413.11, shown in Exempt Appendix A to the report in the closed part of the agenda, be written-off as irrecoverable. 

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

13.

Design for Ebbsfleet pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Summary:

 

The Ebbsfleet Development Corporation has prepared a design guide for Ebbsfleet and has requested endorsement of the guide by the Council as the plan-making authority for part of its area.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s ‘Design for Ebbsfleet’ guide be endorsed as compliant with the Council’s development plan policies.

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report. 

14.

Homelessness Update - Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Summary:

 

To update the Cabinet on the impact on the Council’s Housing Solutions Service, and the outcomes for service users, following the coming into force of the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 in April 2018.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the contents of the report be noted. 

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

 

15.

Corporate Plan - Key Actions and Performance Indicators for the Third Quarter of 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Summary:

 

To report progress against the latest set of Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for quarter 3 of 2018/19.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Cabinet notes the contents of the key action and performance indicator monitoring reports attached at Appendices A and B to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

16.

Report of Delegated Action Taken Under Standing Order 38: Award of the Contract for the Inspection and Maintenance of Playgrounds pdf icon PDF 49 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 award of the contract for Inspection and Maintenance of Playgrounds 2019-2024 to Continental Landscapes Ltd. The matter is urgent as operational preparations, including TUPE, have to be completed by 31 March 2019.

 

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 the award of the contract for Inspection and Maintenance of Playgrounds 2019-2024 to Continental Landscapes Ltd.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

 

 

17.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates - Exempt Appendix A - Exempt Category SO46(1)(b)

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

18.

Write-off of Housing Benefit Overpayments - Exempt Appendix A - Exempt Category SO46(1)(b)

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

19.

Vote of Thanks

Minutes:

The Chairman thanked Members and Officers for their support during the past year and wished those Members standing for re-election success in the forthcoming elections.

 

Members also expressed their best wishes to Councillor Mark Maddison who was not seeking re-election.