Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment
Sue Foster, Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods and Growth
Contact: Mark Howarth, Governance & Resident Engagement Manager, 0207 926 8319, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Housing, Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, introduced the report and thanked the Deputy Cabinet Member for Housing for her work alongside officers in developing the new resident engagement structures. The Tenants and Residents Associations (TRAs), Area Housing Forums, Tenants’ Council and Leaseholders’ Council had all played an important role in developing the new arrangements. Just two main issues of contention remained and therefore it was disappointing that both Tenants’ Council and Leaseholders’ Council had rejected the proposals. A more flexible approach was now required that enabled a greater diversity of views to feed into resident governance structures.
The Governance & Resident Engagement Manager, Mark Howarth, then provided the following information:
· Tenants’ Council and Leaseholders’ Council had rejected the proposed engagement structures but had acknowledged the need for change.
· The new structures would initially be piloted for a period of 12 months.
· Officers had worked to widen the engagement process and enable more to be facilitated online, for example through the Lambeth 500+.
The Deputy Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Anna Birley, thanked residents for their comments on the proposals and confirmed they had been taken on board. The new engagement structures were more flexible and would ensure residents’ interests were at the heart of the service. The focus would be on service improvement and performance monitoring.
The Vice Chair of Tenants’ Council, Nicholas Greaves, then addressed Cabinet and raised the following issues:
· Tenants’ Council and Leaseholders’ Council had been involved in the process since November 2015 but some issues of concern remained unresolved. Tenants’ Council Executive would for example be dissolved despite this having been one of the most effective mechanisms for change.
· There would no longer be separate bodies for tenants and leaseholders. This could lead to the interests of one group becoming dominated by those of the other.
· Delegating more authority to Area Managers carried significant risks.
· The emphasis on online working was welcomed but only 58% of tenants were currently online and public meetings were still necessary.
· There was a diverse mix of people engaged in the current process. It was not necessary to take replace the entire structure and risk losing the input of those currently involved.
· Despite the focus on ‘Walkabout Wednesday’ sessions, many residents remained unaware of them.
· Tenants must be able to raise and pursue service improvements without having to navigate complex governance structures.
The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Tim Briggs then raised the following points:
· The main problem with the existing structures was that none of the various residents’ meetings had any significant decision making or scrutiny power. The proposed resident engagement structures also failed to devolve any authority to residents. They would also fail to facilitate any accountable decision making.
· The alternative resident engagement structures proposed by the Conservative Opposition Group were preferable. This centred on a Borough Residents’ Forum which was fed into by a number of other bodies, including the Lambeth 500+ and three Housing Area Panels. Power would be partially devolved to resident ... view the full minutes text for item 4