Venue: Committee Room (B6) - Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, London, SW2 1RW. View directions
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To agree the minutes of the meetings of 14 March 2019 and 16 May 2019 (call in) as accurate records of the meetings.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meetings held on 14 March 2019 and 16 May 2019 be approved as correct records of the proceedings.
Declaration of Pecuniary Interests
Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.
There were no declarations of pecuniary interest.
Contact for information: Sandra Roebuck, Director for Development, Planning & Housing Growth; 020 7926 2594, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment & New Homes, Cllr Matthew Bennett, introducing the item, stating that:
· In 2014 the Council had made a decision to start building homes again in order to respond to the housing crisis
· The Council had five options for doing this, as set out in the report (para. 2.4). There were positives and negatives to all of these but on balance the wholly owned company approach was deemed right for Lambeth. This decision was reaffirmed in the May 2017 Cabinet report Incorporating and Mobilising Homes for Lambeth (HfL) and again in the manifesto of the new administration following the 2018 Council elections
· A range of wholly owned company models existed. HfL was unusual in that it sought to focus on maximising social housing rather than making profit
· Though HfL was exposed to risk, control and oversight of the companies sat with the Council
· Instead of going to the private sector for relevant skills and experience, this had been brought in to HfL
· The decision to set up HfL laid the foundations for the future, establishing the skills and capacity to intervene in the housing market
The Chair invited speakers who wished to contribute to address the committee.
Councillor Pete Elliott stated that:
· The financial viability and environmental impact of HfL needed to be challenged
· HfL needed to be run in the interests of residents
· Estate regeneration came at a social cost especially in relation to vulnerable groups
· With no opposition voice in Cabinet and no dedicated Housing scrutiny committee he felt there was insufficient scrutiny of HfL
· The history of call ins and court cases related to estate regeneration demonstrated that lessons were not being learned
· Lambeth had spent £21m of taxpayers’ money on six estates with almost nothing to show for it
· The role of the Council’s auditors should extend to HfL
· He was concerned about the amount of risk faced by HfL
Appointing an opposition councillor and more
residents to the Ownership and Stewardship Panel (OSP) would
provide greater scrutiny
Councillor Adrian Garden, Chair
of Corporate Committee, stated that:
· He believed Corporate Committee should have a role in monitoring HfL. This would assuage some of the concerns raised by Cllr Elliott
· He was encouraged to see the Council taking major steps to build more housing
· It was important HfL learned from successful projects in other boroughs
· He believed robust performance management arrangements were vital. This should involve a resilient project management system consisting of project teams which included senior managers from all strands of the project; above this should sit a steering group making decisions on the whole programme. Any divergence from plans and subsequent mitigating actions should be minuted and agreed at the appropriate level
Plant, Cressingham Gardens resident,
and Shemi Leira, Chair of Westbury Estate Tenants’ and
Residents’ Association, stated that:
· Some of the wholly owned companies in other boroughs (as referred to in the report) gave residents a far greater role than HfL, which was ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Contact for information: Hannah Jameson, Head of Policy and Partnerships; 020 7926 6918,
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Leader of the Council, and Andrew Travers, Chief Executive, introduced the item, stating that:
· The report aimed to provide an update on achievement against the existing Borough Plan outcomes as well as setting out plans for moving the plan forward. This involved relating it more closely to the strategic narrative used since the new administration in 2018
· The intention was that the refreshed plan would be clearer and more focused
· There was a recognition that the Council wished to enable growth and development for the benefit of all Lambeth residents, make the borough a better place to live, work and invest, and engender a common sense of purpose with partners
· While the previous Borough Plan concentrated on specific topics, the new version would be more about outcomes and adding value
· It had to be recognised that the Council could not work in silos as many issues were cross-cutting (for example, increased employment opportunities could have a positive effect on youth violence)
· The plan would be supported by neighbourhood working, with an acknowledgement that solutions would be different in different areas
Cllr Tim Briggs joined the meeting at this point.
The Chair asked committee members to bear in mind, when putting their questions on this item, that the 10 July meeting would be receiving a report on Lambeth Together and there was a separate sub-committee with responsibility for scrutinising Children’s Services.
In response to questions from Members the Leader of the Council, the Chief Executive and the Head of Policy and Partnerships stated that:
· It was important to ensure prosperity was spread across the borough.
· In response to a question regarding supporting small businesses in areas not currently covered by Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), it was confirmed that an analysis had been carried out in Stockwell regarding business rates and BID fees and it was concluded that a BID would not be feasible. However, it was noted that BIDs had in the past expanded to include neighbouring geographical areas
· The Council did not have the capacity to conduct small business outreach (for example, in areas such as housing estates with rows of shops) but all local centres were important
· It should be noted that BIDs were independent organisations, paid for and run by the business rates and BID levy payers within the BID area
· The Cabinet Members for the Voluntary Sector and Partnerships (Job Share) together with the Council’s Business Champion were working on connecting small businesses in to BIDs in order that they could benefit in areas such as recycling and energy
· The Council had developed plans for a No Deal Brexit together with partners in the borough, covering potential scenarios and impacts, and was looking to mitigate risks via thorough preparation. Meetings would continue on this until October as things stood
· There were quarterly monitoring reports to Cabinet setting out performance against the Borough Plan outcomes
· The proposals for the new plan had 20 areas of focus, making it more concise than at present and providing ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Contact for Information: Gary O’Key, Senior Democratic Services Officer; 020 7926 2183, email@example.com
The Chair confirmed that the 10 July committee meeting would be focused on health and social care. Members also confirmed that they wished to scrutinise the housing and environment contracts due for re-tendering later this year at an appropriate juncture, while a suggestion was made that growth and regeneration in the borough could be a topic for future scrutiny.
In discussing possible themes for future meetings it was noted that a number of suggestions for work programme items were made by members who attended the scrutiny induction event in May (as referred to in para. 2.6 of the report) and the committee would take these into consideration when prioritising its future work.
1. That the work programme as drafted and the status of actions be noted
2. That the decision made by the previous committee on 14 March regarding the 3 October meeting provisionally being themed around contracts (specifically on Housing and Environment) be confirmed
3. That an item on preparedness for a No Deal Brexit be considered to come to the committee on 3 October, depending on national developments in the intervening period
4. That the committee considers requesting an update report on Homes for Lambeth at the December meeting (see also item 4, recommendation 10)
5. That enabling growth and development in the borough (including the Commercial Strategy) be considered as potential future meeting theme