Agenda and draft minutes

Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee - Thursday 7 July 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Room THB-06, Town Hall, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW

Contact: Sarah Keeble, Democratic Services  020 7926 4385, Email: skeeble@lambeth.gov.uk

Note: Information on how to access the meeting is set out in the agenda. However, if you just want to watch the live broadcast you can copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/3I3wdBc . The video will remain available to view for 180 days. 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Pecuniary Interest

    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.

    Minutes:

    There were none.

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 198 KB

    • View the background to item 2.

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting of 1 March 2022 were approved as a correct record of proceedings.

3.

Update on Lambeth Housing Partnership Programme with Registered Providers pdf icon PDF 361 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Better Homes and Reducing Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay introduced the report.

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Jules Bickers, Director of Property at Metropolitan Thames Valley who stated:

    • Metropolitan Thames Valley were grateful for the hard work of Councillors Kay, Atkins and Jaffer, as well as that of Council Officers in creating a successful partnership for St. Martins
    • A report on lessons learned was being produced which had been contributed to by Councillors; this would be published hopefully within the next few weeks
    • Work was on-going to address damp and mould in homes. This work was subject to independent scrutiny by the Council and other external parties
    • Metropolitan Thames Valley recognised that there was a lot of work outstanding and were committed to hearing from residents and returning to homes where necessary.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Terry Curtis, Chair of St. Martins Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) who stated:

    • There had been a successful campaign to eradicate damp on the St Martins estate, of which the Housing Association were willing and able to address
    • There had been significant progress in dealing with damp in properties and tenants were grateful that the Council had been proactive
    • Thanks to a shift in the Council’s working, consultation with residents was now well practised
    • St. Martins TRA ran campaigns which utilised the complaints procedure. This was essential for the Council to provide adequate supervision and it was important that all TRA’s campaigned well.

     

    In response to the above and Member’s questions, the Cabinet Member and officers stated the following:

    • Officers would prepare clearer action plans exploring how they would be resourced before getting involved, to eliminate the impact on other services that need delivering
    • Officers recognised that there was a duty towards tenants with protected characteristics, and would need to explore what legal action could be taken with regards to their landlords
    • Quarterly Housing Association Resident Panel meetings were being set up to allow for Housing Association residents to feed their voices into Lambeth, support residents and give Lambeth direction. Officers would see if the Housing Associations were willing to engage in a Lambeth Panel as they ran off their own engagement structure
    • Lambeth ran a quarterly topic-specific panel meeting with Registered Providers which had received positive feedback from Members. The next meeting scheduled for end of July 2022 was primarily for newly elected Members, although on-going, an invitation to all Councillors would be provided
    • Following a query on why the rate of inspection was as low as it was, the Assistant Director of Public Protection Assurance and Regulatory Services explained that inspections were done on a percentage rate, which was followed up by asking residents directly if they were content with their service
    • Following questions from Members, the Director of Property at Metropolitan Thames Valley stated that they were happy to provide written answers on some of the questions raised, including tenant satisfaction measures and its benchmarking
    • The review of the Lambeth Housing Partnership had been delayed due to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Update on Homelessness pdf icon PDF 504 KB

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay, introduced the report.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Carla Ecola, Director of the Outside Project who stated:

     

    ·         The Outside Project was a homeless charity based near London Bridge which supported the wellbeing of those in the LGBTQI community facing domestic abuse and social isolation through homelessness

    ·         Many members of the LGBTQI community did not feel confident in approaching centres for the general population and often suffered from abuse, substance abuse and complex mental health needs

    ·         Many LGBTQI-focused homeless shelters were reliant on small services and were at risk of being lost to profit-seeking organisations

    ·         The rates of poverty and abuse raised dramatically throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and many facing these issues came to stay at the Outside Project’s ‘Covid Hotel’

    ·         South London’s LGBTQI Centre was demolished fifty years ago and no replacement had been made.

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Georgina Schueller, resident, who stated:

     

    ·         The cost of living crisis had seen an increase in poverty; an estimated 90,000 residents were living in poverty once housing costs were factored in

    ·         Lambeth had an ambitious regeneration programme

    ·         Ms. Schuller asked a number of questions around Homes for Lambeth. The Chair stated that Homes for Lambeth did not fall within the remit of the Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee and noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be considering issues related to the borough’s delivery of new homes at a future session later in the year.

    In response to the above and Member’s questions, the Cabinet Member and officers stated the following:

     

    ·         Lambeth Council set out to approach the highest level of demand and aimed to support residents as early on as possible before they reached the point of crisis

    ·         Lambeth recognised that supply was a big issue in terms of the housing crisis. Officers stated that they were exploring the possibility of new provision and looking at other ways to support the pressure on Temporary Accommodation. The budget for this was being discussed with the Administration and further information would be provided to Members in the near future

    ·         The Director of Housing explained that the Housing Revenue Account special budget must be ringfenced by Government – the Council could only spend what it had collected in rents. Therefore, reducing rents would not be of benefit to the Council

    ·         The Homelessness and Resilience Working Group was meeting regularly to discuss strategic issues ensuring the ability to prevent homelessness from all social housing provision within the borough. The Officer stated that they would provide the figures of those prevented from homelessness from social housing and registered providers

    ·         Lambeth Housing was looking to go out to market in the next few months to see what opportunities may be sought for Temporary Accommodation provision. Housing was working with colleagues in Corporate Finance to ensure financial risks had been considered

    ·         A long needs assessment had been carried out on the Young Persons Supported Housing Pathways, consulting with many residents, service providers and charities. This highlighted that there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Sustainability on Housing Estates pdf icon PDF 687 KB

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Better Homes and Reducing Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay, introduced the report.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from George Deacon, Chair of Deronda Estate Tenants and Residents Association and Chair of Lambeth Living Streets who stated:

     

               The Deronda Estate TRA and Lambeth Living Streets Groups were generally supportive of the Council’s work

               Deronda Estate saw insufficient cycle parking and became a target for theft

               A number of residents were storing the bicycles in their living rooms which was unsatisfactory

               The Estate was awaiting the delivery of one hangar, however even with this on-site, residents would still be travelling up to one hundred metres to its location

               Garages were available for rent however according to the Council website you may not apply for one unless you were in possession of a car

               Deronda Estate had no parking restrictions and therefore was often used as a free car-park for those living off of the Estate. This also meant it cost less to store a car than it would a bicycle

               Mr. Deacon asked for a review of the parking costs and for consideration to be given to families storing more than one cycle.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Pete Elliott, Gipsy Hill Ward resident and Green Party member who stated:

     

               Many boroughs were ahead of Lambeth with regards to sustainability of their housing estates

               Most of the properties that were situated on the estates were in need of retrofitting by 2030 to meet climate targets, however the report made no mention of retrofitting

               The Council should be taking every practical opportunity to meet net zero standards

               The report did not address any spending or damage done to the environment

               The Climate Emergency was in need of an emergency plan

               Carbon literacy training should be mandated for all Members.

     

    In response, the Chair thanked Mr. Elliot for his comments: he clarified that the borough’s plans for retrofitting would be covered in the next meeting, referring Mr. Elliot to the Forward Plan for HSSC which contained a list of subjects to be explored in the future.

     

    At 21:00, the Sub-Committee was asked if it wished to extend the meeting for a period of thirty minutes. This was agreed unanimously.

     

    In response to the above and Member’s questions, the Cabinet Member and officers stated the following:

     

               The Building Safety and Standards Item that was due to come to the next meeting of the Sub-Committee would cover retrofitting in more detail

               Housing were open to reviewing car parking charges but needed to maintain a balance. This would be achieved by tackling pollution and encouraging sustainable methods of transport

               The cost of bike hangars would be reviewed and options were being explored to ensure that households were not charged per bike

               Residents were able to rent garages for general storage as well as vehicle storage and therefore did not require a car to be eligible to apply. Housing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 362 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair introduced the Sub-Committee’s Work Programme item detailing provisional items and themes for the rest of the municipal year.

     

    The Chair asked why a number of questions submitted to a previous meeting around leaseholder issues had not been answered. The Director of Housing responded, stating that the outstanding responses had been delayed due to the Housing team waiting on the procurement of the Arbitration Scheme. Part of the response would include how the scheme would work.

     

    The Director of Housing agreed to send Councillor Gadsby a written note summarising this, so that he could pass it on to residents.

     

     

    RESOLVED:

     

    1. That the Sub-Committee considered and approve the work programme as currently drafted as Appendix 1 to the report.