Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Regal, Email: jonathan.regal@hounslow.gov.uk, 020 8583 2075 

Items
No. Item

18.

Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Liang Du (represented by Hazel Salvat) and Phil West.

 

There were no declarations of interests.

19.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Minutes:

Accuracy

The minutes of the meeting held on 3 November 2014 were agreed to be accurate subject to the following changes:

(a)       Line 3 Paragraph 3 of Minute 10 – Minutes

Delete the words “tried to” so that the sentence now reads “Carolyn Courage noted that HFTRA had improved its financial governance arrangements after the audit carried out between March and June 2013”.

 

(b)       Line 2 Paragraph 1 of Minute 13 – Support of Representative Groups

Replace the word “a constitution” with “terms of reference” so that the sentence now reads “Stephen Frost, Principal Area Initiatives Officer, explained that the Tenants group now had terms of reference and that at the next meeting representatives for the three areas of the borough would be elected.

 

Matters Arising

Minute 11 – Update on Hounslow Homes

Julie Brooker requested that the Committee be sent details of the response to the consultation by Ipos-Mori report on tenant and leaseholder consultations with regard to the transfer to back to the Council.  Councillor Curran replied that a link to the consultation would be included in the minutes:

https://democraticservices.hounslow.gov.uk/documents/s109003/REG244%20-%20Future%20of%20Hounslow%20Home%20-%20Appendix%20A.pdf

20.

Re-design of Customer Services (how the service may operate in the future)

Minutes:

Bukky McGlynn reported that on 5 January 2015 the Repairs Call Centre had been integrated with the Customer Service Centre (which had relocated to the Civic Centre in June 2014) and is now based at the Civic Centre.  Currently, the management of the Customer Service Centre team were investigating how the service was working and whether there were any improvements required.

 

Also consultation with tenants/residents had begun on changing the opening hours for the Repairs Call Centre as it was currently open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday (compared to the Customer Service Centre open 8am to 6pm).  The centre currently had staffing problems with covering a 12 hour service particularly the late shifts and during peak usage times.  The management of the Customer Service Centre team were also looking at ways of logging call information so that they can be responded to customer enquiries more effectively.

 

In response to comments from members, Bukky McGlynn or Emma Jeffery said that:

        It was acknowledged that some residents may have problems contacting the Repairs Call Centre outside of normal office hours or they do not have access to the internet.

 

        There had been a seamless integration of the Repairs Call Centre into the former Hounslow Homes Customer Service Centre.

 

        Residents and tenants were being consulted on their views about opening hours for the Repairs Call Centre and it was hoped that confirmation of the Repairs Call Centre’s hours would be communicated to tenants within their rent change letters in March.

 

        It was understood that there were problems with answering of calls into the Repairs Call Centre early in the morning, due to staffing levels.  The telephone answering service message would be improved to provide better options.

 

        There had not been any staffing cutbacks it was just that there was not enough staff to answer the phones early/late in the day.

 

        The Repairs Maintenance Team would continue offering appointments/repairs maintenance service from 7.30am to 4pm.

 

        The contact number for Council tenants/leaseholders is now 020 8358 2000 from January 2015.  However, for leasehold queries, continue to contact the LBH Leasehold Team.

 

        It was understood that some contact numbers in letters sent by T Brown Group (gas servicing contractor) were incorrect.  Mark Johnson would be taking up the issue directly with the contractor.

21.

Update on Hounslow Housing integration

Minutes:

Peter Matthew reported that all staff and associated services (including pensions, contracts, and assets) were transferred to the council on 1 January 2015.  All staff were transferred with some moving into the Civic Centre.  The transfer had been successfully completed and the housing service was proceeding to deal with known outstanding problems.  It was thought that further problems would be encountered once existing problems were fully exposed.  The service would not be complacent and would make changes or improvements when required.  The service would be looking at options to improve service delivery and this would commence through each of the 8 business areas developing a business plan that would eventually be incorporated into the Housing Service’s Business Plan (in April 2015).  An audit of the Housing Revenue Account had commenced and this would allow the service to know exactly what resources it has to make improvements to the service including service delivery and IT.  An engagement strategy would be developed and performance would be monitored through a ‘top 10’ performance indicators.  Overall, it was imperative that any changes would raise staff morale and sense of worth and ultimately the reputation of Hounslow Housing.

 

In response to comments from members, Peter Matthew or Councillor Curran said that:

        Performance would be monitored through performance indicators (used by other local authorities) and best practice.

 

        Some areas of service, identified in October 2014, required rapid improvement and it was hoped that their performance had improved by January 2015.  These indicators would be developed through involvement of the Committee.

 

        There were no tenants that required new tenancies even those 78 tenants who were tenants in Hounslow Homes property as these tenants had signed council tenancies.

 

        Even though the Housing Revenue Account was ring-fenced there was an obligation for the council to be prudent with how they spent these funds and this needed to be clarified.

 

        It was hoped that the future housing service would be customer-focused with performance management through the true and correct performance indicators that gave tenants and councillors faith in the service.

 

        Mark Johnson was responsible for repairs and property services whilst Orla Gallagher was responsible for tenancy services.  It was understood that many tenants were unsure who to contact and that more needed to be done to inform them through either Hounslow Matters or a housing newsletter (to raise the profile of the departments).

 

        It was noted that there was concern about the standards of grounds maintenance especially pruning of bushes.

 

        There was to be a review on Estate Inspections as it was thought that some of these inspections could occur on weekends as many tenants and councillors had work commitments during the week.

22.

Proposal on support needs required by Tenants, Sheltered and Leaseholders pdf icon PDF 25 KB

Minutes:

See report of the Principal Area Initiatives Officer (agenda item 5).

 

Stephen Frost reported that the tenant forums were fully operational with agreed new terms of reference.  He explained that:

        Premises for meetings – Leaseholders Forum and Tenants Forum would meet at the Alf Chandler Centre (Centre (Benson Close), with Linda Fernandes making the bookings.  Please provide, in advance, a list of dates and times for your meetings to ensure that the Alf Chandler Centre would be booked.  The proposed meeting space for SARA would be the Frogley House sheltered housing scheme.

 

        Administrative Support – the Forums require similar administrative support for their (four) formal meetings such as communication support, agenda preparation and minute-taking.  It was hoped that this support would be given by an independent person (non-council employee) in an arrangement similar to the support offered to the community network.  It was hoped that this support would be given by an independent person (non-council employee) in an arrangement similar to the support offered to the Hounslow Community Network.  Stephen Frost would draft the specifications and invite comment by email from TLSTJCC representatives to ensure their requirements were met.  Commissioning of this independent support was planned to take place in February/March 2015.

 

        Support and Advice – independent advice, group development and training would be provided by the VCSE Support Service.  Tenant groups would also continue to receive support and advice from the relevant housing services and the Community Partnerships Unit.  Funding would be made available for external training such as specific training on chairing meetings or newsletter preparation assistance.

 

        New officers within the Community Partnerships Unit would be meeting with tenants and residents associations (in February and March) to highlight the work of the Tenants Forum and improve the link between the Forum and grassroots

 

In response to comments from members, Stephen Frost or Councillor Curran said that:

        The council would offer reasonable support and felt that support would only be given for four formal meetings.  For further support requests Stephen Frost needed to be contacted.

 

        Stephen Frost would supply his full contact details when he attends the Forums.

 

        The council does not pay travel expenses as there had been problems in the past (highlighted in an Auditors report).  The council had given their assurance to the Forums through fully supporting them.

 

The progress stated in the report was noted.

23.

Urgent Business

Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.

 

Minutes:

Jenny Samuel was concerned that the council and residents were not being fully informed about the traffic management arrangements for the Rugby World Cup matches being held at Twickenham.  Councillor Curran replied that he had raised his concerns with the Borough Commander and that a council group involving officers and Hounslow Heath/Isleworth councillors were meeting regularly to discuss/respond to traffic management measures such as temporary controlled parking zones and closure of the A316 on match days.  Affected local residents would be written to when firmer proposals were known.

24.

Date of next Meeting

Minutes:

Members noted that the next meeting was due to be held on Monday 30 March 2015.