Hounslow Council


Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Irene Bowles 

Items
No. Item

25.

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

Decision:

Apologies had been received from Jane Hunter (Tenants’ Representative), Liang Du (Leaseholders’ Representative) and Susan Austin (Customer Services Manager).  Cheryl McBain (Access Hounslow Team Manager) deputised for Susan Austin.

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Jane Hunter (Tenants’ Representative), Liang Du (Leaseholders’ Representative) and Susan Austin (Customer Services Manager).  Cheryl McBain (Access Hounslow Team Manager) deputised for Susan Austin.

 

There were no declarations of interest or communications from Members.

26.

Welcome and Introductions

Decision:

Councillor Steve Curran introduced Councillor Katherine Dunne, who had been appointed as the Lead Member for Housing.  As part of this portfolio, Councillor Dunne would take over as Chair of the Committee from the next meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor Steve Curran introduced Councillor Katherine Dunne, who had been appointed as the Lead Member for Housing.  As part of her portfolio, Councillor Dunne would take over as Chair of the Committee from the next meeting.

 

Councillor Curran reminded the meeting that he held a large portfolio, and had led on Housing for many years.  It was now time to hand over for a new focus; this was a positive change.  Councillor Curran confirmed that he would still be responsible for strategic delivery.  Councillor Dunne advised that she would meet with Councillor Curran to conduct a formal handover, and that they would work together to ensure a smooth transition.

27.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Decision:

The minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2015 were agreed as a true and accurate record, with the following amendment:

Item 22, point 2: delete sentence: “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.”

The minutes were signed by the Chair.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2015 were agreed as a true and accurate record, with the following amendment:

Item 22, point 2: delete sentence: “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.”

The minutes were signed by the Chair.

 

There were no matters arising.

28.

New Hounslow Housing - Update pdf icon PDF 70 KB

·        Our Key Priorities

·        Performance Management

Additional documents:

Decision:

1.                  Peter Matthew advised that he would discuss the proposed Key Performance Indicators with the Leaseholders’ and Sheltered Tenants’ Forums.  Papers would be circulated in advance of those meetings.  See Supplementary pack for this, published with the electronic agenda pack.

2.                  Peter Matthew and Councillor Dunne agreed to investigate a dedicated telephone number for housing issues.

3.                  It was agreed that “Access to funding for Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations” would be an Agenda item at the next meeting.

4.                  Councillor Curran agreed to investigate the feasibility of a call-back service to residents/leaseholders calling the housing helpline.

5.                  Councillor Curran confirmed that the length of time in which queries should be addressed should be 5 working days.

6.                  A notice will be placed in the Newsletter to remind tenants and leaseholders that a password can be set up with Hounslow Housing which can be given to Housing staff who visit them, for security.

 

Minutes:

Peter Matthew led members through his presentation on the progress made by Hounslow Housing (attached as a supplementary item to the Agenda).  In response to questions and statements from members, it was resolved that:

 

1.                  Peter Matthew would discuss the proposed Key Performance Indicators with the Leaseholders’ and Sheltered Tenants’ Forums.  Papers would be circulated in advance of those meetings.  See Supplementary pack for this, published with the electronic agenda pack.

2.                  Peter Matthew and Councillor Dunne would investigate a dedicated telephone number for housing issues.

3.                  “Access to funding for Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations” would be an Agenda item at the next meeting.

4.                  Councillor Curran would investigate the feasibility of a call-back service to residents/leaseholders who called the housing helpline.

5.                  The length of time in which queries received should be addressed should be 5 working days, as confirmed by Councillor Curran.

6.                  A notice would be placed in the Newsletter to remind tenants and leaseholders that a password could be set up with Hounslow Housing which could be given to Housing staff who visit them, for security.

 

Peter Matthew advised members that the Business Plan for 2015/16 would include:

a)                 an overview of the issues faced by Hounslow Housing;

b)                 a work structure

c)                  Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  There was a performance management framework, which would monitor performance across the whole of Hounslow.  Within this would be a subset for which this Committee could take ownership.

 

Included in the Framework are points on compliance and risk reporting, and service improvements.  Whilst he acknowledged that it was not possible to get everything right every time, Peter Matthew wanted to look at ways to identify areas for improvement.  This would take account of recommendations from audit reports and Stage 3 Complaint panels.  Members noted that Hounslow Housing had started to consult stakeholders with a small number of proposed KPIs, and would meet with the Forums that contributed to this Committee.  This consultation would continue.

 

Members reminded the Chair that there had been residents’ surveys in the past; it was suggested that a new survey could be initiated to feed into the end of year financial report.

 

The Chair confirmed that the new branding for Hounslow Homes was happening, but would happen over time to enable value for money to be achieved.

 

It was acknowledged that the time taken to answer calls was currently too long; Peter Matthew and Cheryl McBain assured members that they were working to reduce this time, and were looking at ways in which these could be achieved.

 

Councillor Curran noted that there was a negative legacy from Hounslow Homes, and advised that he would like to benchmark Hounslow statistics against London, Regional and National figures.

 

Members asked about the possibility of reporting repairs online, as this facility had been available with Hounslow Homes.  Kim Mitchell advised that this was not currently available, but this was being investigated.  There was an e-mail address that could be used to report faults: Housing.Repairs@hounslow.gov.uk.  Members were also  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Customer Relations - update

Minutes:

Cheryl McBain (Access Hounslow Team Manager) was present deputising for Susan Austin (Customer Services Manager), and updated the meeting on the following items:

 

a)                  Telephones

A survey of the level of telephone calls received from users of the repairs service, to monitor the operational requirements in terms of hours manned.  Most people use the service between the hours of 8am and 6pm; the Linkline service could be used after that time.

 

b)        New Manager

Members were asked to note that a new Manager had been appointed.  This would be a fresh start, and he would work with individuals to establish what things worked and what didn’t for users.  He would be happy to talk to people individually.

 

c)         Staff not carrying i/d

Phil West reported that there were still problems with council staff turning up to carry out repairs with no identification.  Many Sheltered Housing tenants did not ask to see this.  Councillor Curran agreed that this was unacceptable.

 

d)        Complaints procedure

Carolyn Courage asked how complaints can be made.  Cheryl McBain advised that complaints should be sent, in the first instance, to feedback@hounslow.gov.uk.  Councillor Curran noted that there had been a number of cases, in Housing, where issues had taken many years to be resolved – resulting in thousands of pounds in compensation awarded by Stage 3 Complaint Panels.  He suggested that staff need to understand the consequences of complaints.  Cheryl McBain stated that, when something goes wrong, staff need to look at the cause and the impact.

 

Carolyn Courage pointed out that when a repair is not carried out correctly, it escalates – many repairs take four or five callbacks.  Councillor Curran confirmed that it was important to send the correct operatives for the repair in question.

30.

Housing Management

·        Sheltered

·        Leaseholders

·        Tenants

Decision:

Robert Dunleavy agreed to update Leaseholder Representatives of the timelines for producing itemised statements on billing at their next Leaseholder Forum.

Minutes:

a)         Sheltered Tenants Update

Kim Mitchell updated members on Sheltered Housing units, highlighting the following:

-          Upgrading of facilities at Frogley House was complete

-          Hogarth Court had been closed

-          Tenants had moved out of The Maltings

-          Rectory Court would be closed by the end of June 2015, in readiness of the rebuild

-          Provision of guest accommodation at Fenn House was started on 1 June 2015

-          Grounds maintenance had started at all sheltered accommodation sites.  Feedback had been positive.

-          Scheme Managers were producing monthly Newsletters

-          2 residents had celebrated their 100th birthdays (Edward Pauling House and Frogley House)

-          There had been a fire in Heath Court, but the processes in place had worked well.

 

Some concerns were raised by representatives:

-           The gardening service had started well, but was deteriorating.  Kim Mitchell advised that the service would be continually monitored.

-           who dealt with Health and Safety issues?  Councillor Curran confirmed that all Scheme Managers were responsible for Health and Safety.  If there were any problems with this, residents should contact Peter Matthew.

-           Had any sheltered housing units been lost in the refurbishment process?  The aim was to have 750 sheltered housing units across the Borough.  Some units had been in poor condition prior to the refurbishment programme, with shared facilities or bedsits.  The current strategy had been put in place in 2012, and would be reviewed.

-           was there any feedback on the Lambert Lodge break –in, and was there any planned provision to install CCTV on sheltered housing sites?

Councillor Curran advised that CCTV was just one way in which risk could be reduced, with many other options available.  He noted the importance of carrying out risk assessments at each unit.  Kim Mitchell advised that the risk assessments had been carried out, with a programme of works in place.  She confirmed that some units did have CCTV.

 

b)        Leaseholders Update

Robert Dunleavy confirmed that there was a programme in place to improve leaseholder billing, which would take between one and two years to fully implement.  New issues were coming to light all the time.  As these were identified, solutions could be found; the situation was slowly improving.

 

Robert Dunleavy agreed to update Leaseholder Representatives of the timelines for producing itemised statements on billing at their next Leaseholder Forum.

 

Councillor Curran explained that there had been no increase in Leaseholder charges this year, as the Council could not be sure that the charges were correct.  Although breakdowns of charges had been provided by Hounslow Homes four years ago, the Council could not be sure that these were true and accurate costs.  Robert Dunleavy reminded members that they were being hampered by the IT in use, as it was outdated.  Leaseholder representatives appreciated the size of the problem, and noted that improvements were happening.

 

c)         Tenants Update

Kim Mitchell reminded members of the new builds in the Borough, that were all of a high standard.  Other sites were on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

Ground/Garden Maintenance Charges

A request from Jenny Samuel, Leaseholder, to seek clarification on what tenants and leaseholders are required to pay for these charges.

 

Minutes:

Jenny Samuel had requested clarification on charges made for ground and garden maintenance. 

 

Ben Tomlinson (Senior Housing Projects and Performance Officer) explained that he had explored this with Finance colleagues, and had noted that these charges are levied roughly in proportion between tenants and leaseholders:  the charge for leaseholders is set using value; for tenants if is based on the number of bedrooms.  The total sums raised are approximately £570K from tenants and £115K from Leaseholders.

 

Ernie Cooper asked about tree maintenance, and was advised that it is the responsibility of tenants to look after the trees in their gardens.  Tenants pay a grounds maintenance service charge to allow maintenance of communal areas.  It was not felt that the letter sent out in respect of service charges was very clear.

32.

Any Other Urgent Business

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

 

Questions received prior to the meeting:

a)       When leaks occur from water tanks in lofts, who is responsible for access and repairs? (Jenny Samuel)

b)       Recycling bins – cardboard – Can arrangements be made to empty these more frequently?  When they are full, cardboard is placed in the “landfill” waste bins.

 

Decision:

b)        Frequency of Emptying Recycling Bins

Kim Mitchell agreed to check the frequency of collections for cardboard recycling with Environmental Services.

 

c)         Newsletter to Tenants and Leaseholders

It was agreed that contributions from the forums should be included in the Newsletters.  Chairs of the forums should send their contribution to Peter Matthew for inclusion.  The target deadline for the next Newsletter was the end of June 2015.

Minutes:

a)         Leaks from Water Tanks in Lofts (Jenny Samuel)

Ms Samuel asked who was responsible for access and repairs, when leaks occurred from water tanks in shared lofts.  She mentioned a case where a loft had been locked and access had been difficult.  Mr Matthew explained that the Council had powers of access under tenancy and leaseholder agreements and could break in if an emergency happened.

 

Kim Mitchell (Housing Service Manager) confirmed that the initial contact should be with the Area Housing Office.

 

b)        Frequency of Emptying Recycling Bins (Jenny Samuel)

There were concerns that recycling bins for cardboard were filled very quickly, with cardboard then being placed in the Household Waste bins.    Kim Mitchell reported that Caretakers should contact the Area Office if bins need to be emptied prior to the scheduled time.

Resolved:  that Kim Mitchell would check the frequency of collections with Environmental Services.

 

c)         Newsletter to Tenants and Leaseholders (Carolyn Courage)

It was agreed that contributions from the forums should be included in the Newsletters, as well as an item from Councillor Dunne, as the new Lead Member.  Chairs of the forums should send their contribution to Peter Matthew for inclusion.  The target deadline for the next Newsletter was the end of June 2015.

Resolved:  that Chairs of the forums send items for the Newsletter to Peter Matthew by the end of June 2015.

 

d)        Farewell from Councillor Curran

Councillor Curran thanked members for their support over the last four years, and confirmed that he had enjoyed chairing the Committee during that time.  There had been ups and down, but everyone was still sitting round the table to achieve the best for tenants, leaseholders and sheltered tenants.  Although Councillor Curran would still maintain an interest, he was confident that Councillor Dunne would do a fine job as Chair.

33.

Date of next meeting

To be confirmed

Decision:

The date of the next meeting was set for Monday 10 August 2015 at 7pm.

 

The meeting closed at 9pm.

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting was set for Monday 10 August 2015 at 7pm.

 

The meeting closed at 9pm.