Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: St Aldate's Room - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: John Mitchell. Committee Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

140.

Apologies

Substitutes are not allowed.

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Councillors Goff and  Paule.

141.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None.

142.

Housing Panel Work Plan pdf icon PDF 38 KB

For the Panel to note and agree its work plan, which can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Panel.

 

Minutes:

The Panel noted the forward work programme.  

143.

Review of Oxford City Council's tower block refurbishment project relating to fire safety pdf icon PDF 155 KB

 

Background Information

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London, the Corporate Management Team commissioned a review into fire safety aspects of the Council’s tower block refurbishment project, specifically the use of aluminium composite material (ACM) rain screen cladding on parts of two tower blocks in Blackbird Leys. 

Why is it on the agenda?

This item provides the Panel with an opportunity to note the outcome of the review including the lessons learned and the actions taken.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing

·         Stephen Clarke, Head of Housing Services

·         Andrew Brown, Committee & Member Services Manager

·         Mike Newman, Corporate Affairs Lead

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London, the Corporate Management Team commissioned a review into fire safety aspects of the Council’s tower block refurbishment project, specifically the use of aluminium composite material (ACM) rain screen cladding on parts of two tower blocks in Blackbird Leys.  The Executive Director of Organisational Development and Corporate Services had submitted the report which was introduced by  the Corporate Affairs Lead  who gave a brief introduction to the report, the conclusion of which was that the Council had followed a robust process and taken proper account of the guidance and regulations in force at the time; advice flowing from pre-Grenfell incidents (eg Lakanal House); and advice from Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue (which had been consulted throughout). The Council had taken steps to keep residents fully informed, to reassure them about safety matters and had taken account of their concerns.

 

The Committee and Member Services Manager confirmed that the high turnover in the Clerk of Works role identified in the report had not given any cause for concern as far as safety was concerned.  The Clerk of Works was employed by the Council to provide an additional layer of quality assurance.

 

In response to questions about the capacity of Building Control referred to in the report (and attributable in part to pressures caused by the Westgate project) the Head of Housing Services said that he had appointed a full time Building  Control Officer for the task and who would remain in post until the end of March.

 

In response to a question about the reference  to a fire test on 02 August involving “some” residents, the Head of Housing Services explained the process for the evacuation of the Evenlode  and Windrush tower blocks which, in normal circumstances, would involve residents of the floor on which the fire had been identified and the ones immediately above and below.  Officers had worked with a self-selected reference  group of residents about this issue and all residents had been informed about the procedure to be followed in the event of fire.

 

Members were grateful to officers for the report and were interested to understand how residents felt now that the project was coming to an end and that reassurances had been given about  safety of the tower blocks. The Head of Housing Services  said that residents were now generally more secure, officers would continue to reassure and there would be a final survey of residents once the project was complete.

 

Vulnerable residents were made known to the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service which would prioritise their evacuation in the event of fire. There was no reason not to continue housing vulnerable people in tower blocks when it was, by all other counts, an appropriate offer.

 

The Building Control’s assessment referred to in the report had been based on Building Regulations rather than the Building Control Alliance guidance simply  because the latter had not been published at the time of the assessment.  The approach taken would have met at least one  ...  view the full minutes text for item 143.

144.

Draft Housing & Homelessness Strategy 2018-21 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

 

Background Information

The City Executive Board, at its meeting on 23 January, will consider the amendments made to the draft Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2018-21 following 6 weeks of public consultation, with a view to approving the amended Strategy 2018 (and its associated appendices).

 

The Housing Panel had commented on the pre-consultation version of the Strategy and asked for the post-consultation version to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.

Why is it on the agenda?

This item offers the Panel the opportunity to consider the report and make recommendations to the Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing

·         Stephen Clarke, Head of Housing Services

·         Frances Evans, Strategy & Service Development Manager

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The City Executive Board, at its meeting on 23 January, would consider the amendments made to the draft Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2018-21 following 6 weeks of public consultation, with a view to approving the amended Strategy 2018 (and its associated appendices).

 

The Housing Panel had commented on the pre-consultation version of the Strategy and asked for the post-consultation version to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.

 

The Chair reminded the Panel of its recommendations to the City Executive Board in relation to the pre-consultation draft, all of which had been accepted.

 

Cllr Rowley, Board Member for Housing, introduced the report and Strategy which was returning to the Panel as a penultimate draft before submission to the CEB the following week. The revised strategy took account, among other things and  to the extent that it could, of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

 

The Strategy and Service Development Manager drew the Panel’s attention to Appendix 4 of the report which noted responses given to representations made during the consultation.

 

In relation to “local connection” as a criterion for provision of, and access to services, the Strategy and Service Development Manager said it had been the subject of particularly detailed consultation with many stakeholders, including service users. This was a matter which did not lend itself to any easy or obvious answers. The Strategy had, however, identified a workstream to consider the matter further.

 

The Chair noted that Government guidance in relation to the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 made frequent reference to the Local Authority’s ability to operate discretion in its application. The Strategy and Service Development Manager confirmed that there would be training on the requirements and implications of the Homelessness Reduction Act for those involved in decisions about provision, including when discretion should be applied..

 

There was a tangential connection between the Strategy and the use of Community Protection Notices (CPNs) but the Strategy was not an appropriate place for a detailed account of their use and operation. There would be a separate report on the CPNs to CEB in February (and prior consideration by Scrutiny Committee).

 

The Chair suggested that the  “City Conversation” was an important means of gaining intelligence which could usefully be fed into future iterations of the Strategy. The Strategy and Service development Manager explained that the City Conversation in November came after the consultation had closed but agreed with the Chair’s suggestion that a reference to it should be made in the executive summary. The Strategy sets out the importance of collaborative working with other agencies to address issues of homelessness and rough sleeping. The City Conversation started this and going forward, work will continue to develop partnership arrangements.

 

It was agreed that the Panel should receive a report on progress with the Homelessness Partnership in 6 months’ time.

 

In a discussion about the availability of  housing generally there was recognition of the pressures caused by high student numbers and the loss of family housing as a result of Right to Buy and subsequent  ...  view the full minutes text for item 144.

145.

Notes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 134 KB

For the Panel to approve the record of the meeting held on 13 November 2017.

Minutes:

The Panel approved the notes of the meeting held on 13 November.

146.

Jennifer Pegg

Minutes:

 

The Chair concluded the meeting by reflecting on the absence of Councillor Pegg whose bubbling personality and ability to ask the difficult questions would be sorely missed. He thought, however, that questions from the Panel at this meeting had done justice to her memory.

 

147.

Date of next meeting

Meetings are scheduled as follows:

 

16 January

8 March 2018

9 April 2018

 

All meetings begin at 5.00pm.

Minutes:

Meetings are scheduled as follows:

 

08 March 2018

09 April 2018

 

All meetings begin at 5.00pm