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Membership of the Panel
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillor Amanda Pinnock.
Councillors will be asked to advise if there are any items on the
Agenda in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest, which
would prevent them from participating in any discussion or vote on
an item, or any other interests.
No interests were declared.
Admission of the Public
Most debates take place in public. This only changes when there is a need to consider certain issues, for instance, commercially sensitive information or details concerning an individual. You will be told at this point whether there are any items on the Agenda which are to be discussed in private
All items were considered in public session.
The Panel will receive any petitions and hear any deputations from
members of the public.
A deputation is where up to five people can attend the meeting and
make a presentation on a particular issue of concern, relevant to that
body’s terms of reference. In accordance with Council Procedure
Rule 10 (2) members of the public should provide at least 24 hours’
notice of presenting a deputation.
A member of the public can also hand in a petition at the meeting
subject to the petition relating to something on which the body has
powers and responsibilities
No deputations or petitions were received.
Public Question Time
The Panel will hear any questions from the general public in
accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.
Questions should be emailed to:
email@example.com no later than 10.00 am on
9th November 2021.
No public questions were received.
The Panel’s Terms of Reference are attached for information.
The Panel’s Terms of Reference were submitted for information.
Governance Arrangements PDF 242 KB
The Panel will receive a report on the new governance arrangements introduced in the Homes and Neighbourhoods Service since the transfer of the Housing Management and Maintenance Services from KNH in April 2021.
Eric Hughes – Head of Business Assurance & Transformation
Eric Hughes, the Head of Business Assurance and Transformation presented a report on the new governance arrangements introduced in the Homes and Neighbourhoods Service, since the transfer of the Housing Management and Maintenance Services from KNH in April 2021.
Questions and comments were invited from Panel Members, with the following issues being covered:
· In respect of wider elected member involvement in the boards, the Council had a Cabinet-led model of governance. It was pointed out that there were other boards within the Council that involved different partners and which had representatives from different groups.
· Councillor Scott suggested that this issue sat alongside the issues around visibility, access to information and the ability to make a contribution and could be discussed with the Service Director for Legal, Governance and Commissioning. It was recognised that effective communication was crucial, and that Councillors were at the heart of the organisation and could provide a valuable link to tenants.
· When the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) had been brought back in to the Council there was a clear aim to strengthen the tenants’ voice and to ensure their ability to influence Cabinet, as the decision maker, was supported. The Chair of the Board, as a Cabinet Member was a conduit for this.
· The creation of a forward plan of key decisions had been discussed to ensure visibility and transparency and it was acknowledged that there was a need to make the plan more broadly visible so that elected members could engage, where they considered it was appropriate.
· It was noted that the Housing Advisory Board (HAB) advised the Cabinet and that scrutiny played a crucial role in acting as a critical friend.
· In response to a question about the structure and the element of independence that it was considered would usually be in place for an assurance board, it was explained that the Strategic Director, Environment and Climate Change now chaired the Building Safety Advisory Board (BSAB) and the board included officers from outside the Homes and Neighbourhood Service to provide a level of independent challenge. Its role was a technical advisory group to the HAB. An example was given of an issue where in-house thinking may have limited the challenge provided. In response it was explained that it was considered that Anthony Brown, the independent consultant, did offer that independent challenge and Internal Audit and Mazar’s also added to that scrutiny. However, the point was acknowledged and a conversation could be held with the Board on this issue.
· Work was currently being undertaken with Internal Audit to scope.an audit on data integrity in the compliance system. This would not be done by anyone on the BSAB and would be reported back to the HAB and also feed into the Council’s Governance and Audit Committee with any recommendations.
· It was confirmed that there was a three-year audit plan. Policies were currently being re-written and would include frequency of audit. Where necessary, special expertise would be brought in to undertake technical audits on the Council’s ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
The Panel will receive an update on the approach to effectively communicate and engage with tenants and leaseholders in council high risk residential buildings on matters relating to fire safety.
Officer: Michelle Anderson-Dore – Head of Partnerships, Homes and Neighbourhoods
Michelle Anderson-Dore - Head of Partnerships, Homes and Neighbourhoods and Graham Sykes – General Manager, Partnerships gave an update on the approach to effectively communicating and engaging with tenants and leaseholders, focusing on the Council’s high risk residential buildings on matters relating to fire safety.
It was explained that the approach was the use of a friendly and restorative tone of communication, with a focus on face-to-face engagement where possible. The Fire Safety Engagement Team had a very visible presence across the blocks. A bi-monthly newsletter was circulated to residents of the high-rise blocks, primarily focussing on fire safety and compliance but including any other key messages. There were also opportunities for tenants to get involved and communication would also take place associated with the resolution of any specific concerns. A quarterly survey was sent out to tenants, noticeboards and signage had been reviewed, social media was utilised, and information animations were being produced.
Questions and comments were invited from Panel Members, with the following issues being covered:
· In terms of the The Tenant Advisory Grants Panel (TAGP’s) role in allocating small grants; the pot was £38,000 and traditionally this had only been open to tenants and residents associations with projects having to meet Council priorities. This had now been extended to other community groups and widened to encompass any project related to safety. The Tenant Involvement Team were the main source of communication in terms of making people aware of this opportunity but the Fire Safety Champions (FSC) could also access this funding.
· In respect of the barriers to recruitment of the FSCs, officers had been very conscious of the need to ensure that the communications were as friendly as possible and, where possible, recruitment had been undertaken face-to-face; it had quite often been undertaken successfully when linked into engagement on another issue. It was suggested that there could also be a role for the existing FSCs in this regard and it was explained that this was planned for the next stage of recruitment.
· It was clarified that the term ‘Building Safety Gateways’ was taken from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) guidance and referred to the new arrangements being brought into place to ensure that all new buildings that fell within scope followed prescribed gateways for building control and planning.
· In response to a question about fire safety concerns associated with excess waste in bin chutes it was explained that this had been the subject of a newsletter, the chutes were checked on a regular basis and cleaned annually.
· Although it was early days, the FSCs not having yet received their initial training, it was considered that they could become involved in issues such as this going forward, and they would be important in pulling together items for the newsletter.
· In respect of the staffing position in the high-rise blocks, it was explained that although there could be vacancies or absence due to sickness the aim was always to provide cover as appropriate and work ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
Alignment of Compliance Review Actions and Regulatory Requirements PDF 332 KB
The Panel will receive an update on all compliance recommendations resulting from the compliance review and ongoing FRA Actions notified to the Regulator.
Asad Bhatti – Head of Building Safety, Homes and Neighbourhoods.
Asad Bhatti – Head of Building Safety, Homes and Neighbourhoods presented an update on all compliance recommendations resulting from the compliance review and ongoing Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) Actions notified to the Regulator.
Questions and comments were invited from Panel members, with the following issues being covered:
· In response to a question, it was clarified that the 901 total work actions, of which 83% related to fire door replacement, just related to the high-rise actions and all were medium and low priority actions.
· All works other than those relating to the high-rise and high priority actions had been packaged and tendered, six returns had been received and these were to be evaluated the following week. The expectation was that these works would be in progress from April 2022. Information on the programme period and milestones could be provided to the Panel once the programme was established.
· In respect of the 70 assets assigned as communal assets, these had already been identified under the compliance programme but just not assigned as a communal asset.
· In respect of the exceptional and widespread issues across the sector in terms of the availability of suitable contractors and resources and the potential for flexibility in procurement; it was explained that if the initial tendering process was unsuccessful then a second round would be tried and in the event of a similar response consideration would have to be given to this.
· A formal process for completion and sign-off (of actions) was in place, with a pro-forma, with supporting evidence, being submitted to the independent consultant. This was then sent to the sponsor for approval and from there to the Building Safety Advisory Board (BSAB) for sign-off. In terms of visibility of timescales, if any dates were pushed this would be agreed by the working group and the consultant and would be recorded in the smartsheet. Now the dependencies had been identified the dates were not expected to move.
· It was clarified that the ‘original review’ (the Anthony Brown Compliance Review) had identified 48 recommendations resulting in 55 actions, in addition there were 13 historical recommendations from the Mazar’s Audit. It was clarified that the dashboard at paragraph 2.0.3 of the report related to the compliance review, Mazars audit and regulator actions whereas the dashboard at paragraph 2.0.4 related purely to the compliance review and Mazar’s audit, the additional actions and sub-actions having been removed at the request of the BSAB to avoid distorting progress on the compliance review. The BSAB had sight of all on a monthly basis.
· It was questioned how the Panel could understand the relative risk of uncompleted actions and it was explained that a priority had been assigned to each action together with a completion date and this information could be submitted to a future meeting
· Further detail could be provided in respect of the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) works to the balance of the housing stock. The work would be undertaken on a block by block basis and ... view the full minutes text for item 27.