|Consideration was given to a report on Private Rented Housing - Driving Up Standards.|
The Private Rented Sector (PRS) had been growing nationally at an unprecedented rate over recent years, a position which was reflected in the Borough. Against this background local authorities across the country were seeking to work in a proactive manner with PRS landlords, one which sought to support good landlords and ensured unscrupulous landlords were targeted in an effective manner.
The report sought approval to support the introduction of a 10 Point Plan (which includes the adoption of the Stockton Rental Standard). The actions detailed in the 10 Point Plan were aimed at sending a clear message regarding the Councils intention to promote best practice and drive up standards (both property condition and management) across the PRS.
Attached to the report was a table detailing tenure change (between 2001 and 2011) on a ward by ward basis. Members noted all wards had seen an increase in the levels of private rented accommodation. In Mandale and Victoria, Norton South, Parkfield and Oxbridge and Stockton Town centre the PRS now accounted for in excess of 20% of each wards tenure profile.
Also attached to the report was a draft of the 10 Point Plan, Members noted some of the points listed were already successfully undertaken by the Council however it was intended that they were re-launched with the aim of encouraging better take-up particularly with new landlords. In addition there were a number of proposed new approaches detailed such as a Know Your Landlord Service and a Rogue Landlord Hit Squad. The Rogue Landlord Hit Squad was specifically aimed at pulling together representatives from Council service teams who had a role in identifying and targeting poor landlords, landlords whose actions contribute to the blight and decline of local communities. Led by the Private Sector Housing Team it would share intelligence across council service teams (and other partners such as the police / fire brigade) and target rogue landlords via the collective use of each partners legal powers.
Also included within the 10 Point Plan was the Stockton Rental Standard that was also attached to the report. The aim of the Stockton Rental Standard was to detail in an easy read format what the Council expected from all PRS landlords (managing and lettings agents) operating in the Borough in terms of detailing their legal requirements, plus what was expected in terms of best practice.
Given that all ward Members had a growing private rented housing market, a Member Seminar had been arranged for 10th December 2014. It was proposed to use this seminar as an opportunity to put the PRS in context, for example to explain its growing importance to the Boroughs housing market, explained the powers available to the Council to tackle poor PRS (condition and management) and sought Members views on the draft 10 Point Plan and Stockton Rental Standard. Running in parallel to this, consultation would also be undertaken with private landlords. The majority of private landlords were good landlords and were keen to work with the Council to ensure that the sector was improved though educating and supporting accidental landlords and effectively tackling rogue landlords.
Following completion of the above, Cabinet were asked to delegate approval to make any necessary revisions to the 10 Point Plan and Stockton Rental Standard to the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety. Copies of the final documents would be shared with all ward Members before the 10 Point Plan was formally launched.
Subject to Cabinet approval, work would commence immediately to progress each of the work strands detailed in the 10 Point Plan. Additional earned income (from within the Housing Service) had financed the addition of one new post in the Private Sector Housing team (increasing team numbers to 8), as well as providing a small fund to carrying out necessary works in default (i.e. were the PRS landlord had not complied with a statutory notice and prosecution action was being progressed). This new post would provide the additional capacity in terms of (a) enabling a dedicated lead to be identified to drive forward a pro-active private sector enforcement approach (supported by the wider team) and (b) acting as the co-ordinator for the Rogue Landlord Hit Squad.
Following consultation the 10 Point Plan and Stockton Rental Standard would be formally launched via a 2-strand publicity campaign:-
i. Direct contact with all PRS landlords we are aware of.
ii. A broader media campaign aimed at reaching those existing (or prospective) PRS landlords who are either not actively engaged with the council and those who may not fully understand their obligations.
A review report would be brought back to Cabinet twelve months after formal implementation. The review would evaluate each of the proposals detailed in the 10-Point Plan to gauge their effectiveness and identify any (positive and negative) cost implications. At this present time to mitigate this concern the Hit Squad will be piloted initially in the town centre wards (due to their high concentrations of PRS housing). The outcome of this evaluation exercise would also inform potential next steps and provide an essential evidence base for further exploring selective licensing should this be option the Council wish to further explore.
|Consideration was given to a report on Victoria Estate Regeneration Proposal: Urban Village (Retirement / Active Ageing Housing).|
Approval had previously been granted (June 2012, Cabinet Decision Record D120066) to progress a residential only led redevelopment of the Victoria Estate which would consist of predominately family housing with the potential inclusion of an extra care housing scheme.
At this time it was estimated (based on historical rates of decanting) that it would take up to five years to clear the estate and bring the site forward for redevelopment. The pace of decanting (as detailed in para. 2 of the report) was significantly more advanced than had originally been estimated and the first phase of demolition was complete.
The development partners were on site in locations in close proximity to Victoria, West End Gardens (Stockton centre) and North Shore. Norton Park (the Swainby Road site) would commence redevelopment in the near future. All three sites were predominately providing family housing. Coupled with a continued preference by private housing builders for greenfield over brownfield development sites, there was a potential concern regarding the markets appetite for bringing forward another site for family housing within such close proximity. On this basis an exercise had been undertaken to explore other potential development options for the site.
The Victoria estate was uniquely placed in terms of its proximity to Stockton town centre, retail and leisure facilities. This combined with the need to strategically address the lack of appropriate retirement housing options (across all tenures) in the Borough had highlighted that the site may provide a unique opportunity to develop an Urban Village exclusively providing active ageing / retirement housing. A sustainable and re-developed Victoria would play a key supporting role in the Councils vision for a vibrant Stockton town centre.
At this stage the potential to develop an Urban Village on the Victoria estate was very much a concept. Subject to Member approval, the challenge was to move forward on a number of levels. Including:-
a. Ensuring an Urban Village exclusively for active ageing / retirement housing was more than bricks and mortar and was a vibrant, inclusive community.
- The need to ensure that any Stockton offer was tuned to the priorities of those over (or approaching) 55 years, had appeal in terms of tempting empty nesters and those prepared to plan actively and positively for their future housing / care needs.
b. Working jointly with CESC and Public Health to further explore other housing / care models.
- By building upon the Becker model of care and examining other European models / evolving best practise both at a local and national level.
- To work-up a model which would promote independence through self-caring, reduce the culture of dependency and intervene/provide care (when required) via a range of cost effective solutions.
c. Working jointly with CESC to cross reference the ongoing JSNA reviews and the developing Adult Services Market Position Statement:
- To ensure that there was an evidenced need for mixed tenure accommodation of this scale / nature.
d. Undertake a comprehensive financial appraisal which would build upon the initial, high level commercial appraisal which had been undertaken. Whilst this early appraisal had indicated that the scheme could deliver a positive financial receipt, we need to (a) thoroughly test this and (b) explore the potential options available to the Council for both bringing forward and delivering a scheme of this nature.
- Delivery options include SBC taking the lead delivery partner role, a partnership / Joint Venture arrangement or a traditional land sale.
e. To move forward the initial design stage and develop a scheme proposal that is ready to be submitted for planning approval.
- Pending Cabinet sign-off, ensure we move forward quickly and effectively and be ready to bid for potential funding (HCA and DoH), should these opportunities arise.
f. Running alongside the above:
(i) To undertake further consultation with a range of stakeholders/interested parties (via a seminar approach) to discuss / tease out the concept and the potential future options of care.
(ii) Review other options to deliver older persons housing across the Borough (i.e. are there other sites/locations which collectively would address this need?).
(iii) Undertake further soft market testing of the other traditional development options for this site
|Consideration was given to a report on recording and web broadcasting of Council meetings.|
At its meeting on the 13 March 2014 Cabinet asked the Members Advisory Panel (the Panel) to consider issues relating to the possible recording and web-broadcasting by the Council of its own meetings, and to report the findings to a future Cabinet meeting.
The Panel considered the matter at its meeting on the 5 September 2014. A copy of an extract of the (draft) minutes of that meeting were attached to the report.
The Panel agreed that:-
(i) Subject to both a technical and financial appraisal being carried out and reported to members (of the Panel) initially, and thereafter to Cabinet / Council, agreement in principle be given to this Council recording / web-broadcasting the following meetings, being meetings most likely to engage members of the public:-
(ii) A further report on the results of the appraisals be reported to a future meeting following consideration by Cabinet and Council of the proposed approach.
Cabinet endorsed this approach and agreed that further work be undertaken and reported to the Panel meeting scheduled for 10 December 2014.
At its meeting on 19 November 2014, Council would also be asked to consider the approach being taken by the Panel.
|Consideration was given to a report that presented an update on quarter 1 monitoring of the outcomes / impact of Welfare Reform including emerging issues and to update on national developments with regard to welfare reform national rollout.|
Quarterly reports were provided to Cabinet providing information on a range of indicators which showed how welfare reforms were impacting. The reports also included detail on any updates the Council had received with regard to further roll out of welfare reform and interventions the Council was making to manage the impact.
Members agreed the framework to monitor the impact of Welfare Reform in line with principles in support of a manageable and informative process, monitoring short and long term impact.
The over-arching principles of monitoring and data collection were:-
To inform Policy Shaping
To provide information to the leadership and executive of the Council
To benchmark regionally / nationally
To collect data at a manageable geography/ community of interest where possible and appropriate.
To identify any emerging trends.
To monitor short, medium and long term impact
To only collect from a data source we hold as a council or from partner organisations.
The monitoring framework for 2014/15 was set out under the following themes, which were linked to the Welfare Reform legislation:-
Personal Independent Payments
Social Fund/ Crisis Loans
Local Council Tax support Scheme
General / cross cutting e.g. crime, advice/ information.
Measures used to track impact were attached to the report. Measures were shown as having a direct or indirect link to the implications of the act. Satisfaction measures were detailed under a separate category. Universal Credit had yet to be rolled out in the area; inclusion of measures to monitor the impact would be included as appropriate. Childrens activity data and the economic climate update reports, received regularly by members should be considered alongside this welfare reform monitoring arrangements.
|Consideration was given to a report that provided an update on the implementation of Individual Electoral Registration (IER).|
Further to the report to Cabinet in November 2013, the report provided a further update on implementation in respect of the three year project which had meant significant changes to how residents registered to vote requiring business systems to be remodelled, IT infrastructure and functionality updated as well as the development of a comprehensive engagement strategy.
IER went live on 10 June 2014 with all new applications to register from this date needing to be made on an individual basis with applicants supplying date of birth and national insurance number as part of their registration. Transition to the new system would run over two annual canvasses from 2014 putting in place a safeguard for the General Election in 2015 so that existing electors who fail to register under IER in 2014 were not removed from the register until after the General Election. However, they would lose their absent voting rights if they had not made a successful IER application. Under the proposals, electors would also have the ability to apply to register on-line although this service was not digital end to end.
|Consideration was given to a report that presented minutes of various bodies.|
In accordance with the Councils Constitution or previous practice the minutes of the meeting of the bodies indicated below were submitted to Members for consideration:-
Tees Valley Unlimited - Leadership Board - 23rd July 2014
Safer Stockton Partnership - 19th August 2014
Teeswide Safeguard Adults Board - 16th September 2014
SLSCB Board Meeting - 18th September 2014
|Consideration was given to a report that provided Members with an overview of the economic climate, outlining the effects that this was having on Stockton Borough, and the mitigations already in place and those being developed in response to this. |
Following the recession in 2008 Stockton Councils ambition remained the same; to create a borough that was more confident, vibrant and successful than ever before; where business and people prosper and grow. To do this the Council must understand the nature and extent of opportunities and challenges that exist within Stocktons economy.
The monthly update report enabled a focused account to be made of any recent changes to economic circumstances (both positive and negative), the direct impact that this may be having on the Borough, and the responses and mitigations either in place or being developed to support businesses and residents. Attached to the report was a summary of those changes and responses.
|Consideration was given to a report that presented for approval the Local Account, which provided an overview of progress and achievements in Adult Social Care during 2013-14.|
The production of a Local Account by Councils had been promoted as part of the approach to sector led improvement. Although it was not a statutory requirement, there had been an expectation that Councils would produce a Local Account and the large majority of Councils do so. There was a commitment also through the North East Regional ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) Group to support the production of Local Accounts.
The aim of the Local Account was to support greater transparency and accountability by reporting to residents, in an accessible format, on the addressed priorities and improved outcomes for those in need of social care, how the Council had responded to feedback from service users and other stakeholders, and what the priorities would be for the future.
Attached to the report was the proposed final draft of the Local Account 2013-14 which had been developed along the format of that agreed last year. This version contained the proposed final text for the document. Once approved, arrangements would be made to produce a version formatted in line with the corporate branding, and including appropriate photographs and pictures. It was intended that the document would be made available via the Councils website.
|Consideration was given to a report on the Review of Regeneration and Economic Development, Planning, Countryside and Green Spaces and Technical Services.|
The report outlined proposals to bring together the four remaining service reviews. The reviews were agreed as part of the Councils Medium Term Financial Plan. The services included in the review were Regeneration and Economic Development, Planning Services, Countryside and Green Spaces and Technical Services. Technical Services had already been the subject of a detailed review, achieving the targeted savings in 2013/14.
As the proposed new arrangements impacted on Heads of Service roles, Cabinet were requested to consider the strategic aspects of the review, prior to full staff and trade union formal consultation on the detailed proposals.
It was proposed to consult on the following, subject to Cabinets acceptance of the recommendations in the report:-
the Corporate Director for Development and Neighbourhood Services will take direct management of a redefined business engagement function Business and Enterprise;
the re-designation of the Technical Services to Economic Growth and Development Services, to include some functions from Regeneration and Economic Development, Planning Services and Countryside and Green Spaces.
Proposals for services not within the re-designated Economic Growth and Development Services are:
- Community Transport to be move to Direct Services;
- Tees Achieve moved to Culture and Leisure Services, re-designated
- Culture, Leisure and Community Learning (Employability & Learning & Skills Strategy will remain the responsibility of the Economic Growth and Development Services);
- Visitor Information Centre and Services to Museums, Heritage & Libraries within Culture, Leisure and Community Learning.
The purpose of the review was to identify potential areas of integration and ways in which greater efficiency could be achieved, improving service delivery and meeting a reduction of £300,000 identified within the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2015/16. A further saving of £100,000 was required in 2016/17 and these plans contributed to the additional savings required.
The Council had experienced significant reductions in Government funding and in recent years had also seen a significant reduction in money available for local regeneration projects.
The review preparation work had benefited from a number of staff workshops, independent advice and staff interviews to inform the proposals, ensuring a full understanding of how all functions were delivered and how they were configured and funded was understood and reflected in the proposals.
A number of organisational / structure options had been identified; resulting in the development of this preferred option and subject to Cabinets agreement would be the basis of a full staff consultation exercise.
During the review process, a recurring theme had emerged associated with the challenges of scheme and project cross-functional working. There was a need to redefine the working arrangements within major programmes / projects and regeneration schemes in general. This would further improve the processes between evidence - based strategy development, project and scheme identification, and feasibility studies / proof of concept, physical development and operational delivery.
There were real opportunities to achieve improved efficiency and outcomes by bringing together all staff who had a role in economic growth, related strategy development and planning policy / spatial planning.
The review had sought to redefine the functional responsibilities of many teams, informed by evidence, and influenced by appropriate input from key partners and staff.
The review had also taken the opportunity to reflect on what functions were provided at a Tees Valley level by Tees Valley Unlimited and looked to strengthen and reflect the capacity provided at the sub-regional level within the preferred option.
Attached was the organisational chart for Development and Neighbourhood Services and the proposed new arrangements that would form the basis of the staff consultation exercise.
Consideration had been given as part of the detailed implementation process to succession planning, an underpinning principle of Shaping a Brighter Future the Councils development programme.
Subject to the formal consultation it was proposed to implement the new arrangements in April 2015. However to allow for appropriate succession planning and to manage the reduction in senior capacity, it was proposed that the Heads of Service posts be reduced during 2015 and early April 2016.
In line with the Council's Management of Organisational change policy the two re-designated Head of Service posts would be eligible for slot-in of the current incumbents. The posts would be re-evaluated using the Hay job evaluation methodology on completion of the consultation and the final allocation of service responsibilities.
On implementation of this review the Head of Service posts in Development and Neighbourhood Services would have been reduced from 8 in 2011 to 4 in 2015.
|Consideration was given to a report that updated Members on the position in respect of the local bid to deliver offender management services in relation to adult offenders assessed as medium and low risk, and sought agreement to the Council acting as the main guarantor for the local bid.|
Members were reminded that a report on the Governments Transforming Rehabilitation programme was submitted to Cabinet on 5 September 2013. In brief, the report outlined the Governments intention to abolish the then system of 35 local Probation Trusts across England and Wales and to replace them with a single National Probation Service, remaining in the public sector and managing those adult offenders assessed as high risk, and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) dealing with the offenders assessed as medium and low risk, in which shareholdings were to be sold to interested bidders, with the emphasis in Government commentary on this process being on bidders from the private and voluntary sectors.
The report went on to explain that the then Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust occupied an enviable position as one of the top three performers among the 35 Trusts while also operating at some of the lowest unit costs.
There were significant concerns about the potential impact of the outsourcing process on local levels of reoffending, and therefore on crime levels, leading to increased budget pressures across a range of Council functions, and Cabinet agreed a series of recommendations, the most important of which was that the Council subject to a viable business plan should support the proposal for a consortium of local organisations to bid to take over the Durham Tees Valley CRC.
In the intervening period the process had unfolded, with some minor changes to timetable. A Community Interest Company (CIC) without shareholdings, known as ARCC (Achieving Real Change for Communities) had been established. The partner organisations, in addition to this Council, were Darlington Borough Council; Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust; Thirteen Housing Group; the Wise Group (a social enterprise with significant experience of working with offenders in Scotland and main contractor to the Department of Work and Pensions for its Work Programme in the North East); Safe in Tees Valley; the Vardy Foundation (a registered charity); and Changing Lives in the North East, a CIC established to represent staff of Durham Tees Valley CRC. Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council had also been closely associated with and fully supportive of ARCC, and was anticipated to become a full formal member of the consortium prior to go live.
A more detailed understanding of the requirements had been established and a bid and risk register developed. A high level summary of the bid was attached to the report. The consortium submitted its bid in June and received feedback in August. Nineteen bidding organisations had submitted a total of 84 bids for the 21 CRCs. None of these bids were deemed to be fully compliant with the requirements of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), but all bidders were provided with detailed feedback on 15 August and offered the opportunity to resubmit their bids by 5 September. The ARCC bid was deemed to be one of the stronger bids received. A revised bid was duly submitted, and a process of due diligence, including an independent external assessment of the financial viability of the bid and risks attached to it, was planned to take place immediately if and when ARCC was notified that it had achieved preferred bidder status, and this would inform the final delegated decision on whether to provide the Guarantee.
One of the requirements of the bidding process was for every bidding organisation to provide a Deed of Guarantee to the MoJ from an organisation which would guarantee to reimburse the MoJ for significant failures in performance up to and including catastrophic failure requiring a recommissioning process, which would involve significant costs to the MoJ. A copy of this was attached to the report. A value of Guarantee had been set for each CRC and for Durham Tees Valley it was approximately £13.8 million. In the case of commercial bids the guarantee would usually come from the Group concerned, to eliminate the risk to the MoJ that would otherwise exist of the liabilities being contained within a subsidiary operating company which may cease trading.
Discussions within the consortium established that this Council was the partner best placed to stand as Guarantor for the bid, but also that the potential risk, and the contingent liability on accounts, should be shared among consortium partners.
For the purposes of the original bid submission in June an in principle decision was made under the Councils Urgency Procedure to proceed on this basis, on the understanding that the decision would not come into effect until and unless a contract is concluded between ARCC and the MoJ.
The MoJ had not published a detailed timetable for the concluding stages of its procurement process, but the best current estimate was that preferred bidders may be announced at the end of October, with contracts to be signed shortly before Christmas, and the new arrangements to go live from 1 February 2015. In view of this timetable it was timely to seek a substantive decision in relation to the Deed of Guarantee.
Without such a Guarantee the ARCC bid would be disqualified and the Community Rehabilitation Company would almost certainly end up under the control of a commercially driven organisation, which was exactly the outcome that the Councils participation in the consortium was intended to avert. Members were reminded that the contract would be for at least 7 years, with options to extend up to 10 years, and that ARCCs status as a CIC without shareholdings guarantees that any surpluses generated will be reinvested in social goods for Durham Tees Valley. Some further indications of the scale of the enterprise were attached to the report, which was confidential.