Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Housing & Community Safety Select Committee (ceased to operate 03/06/2015) Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 12th June, 2014
Time:
2.30PM
Place:
Jim Cooke Conference Suite, Stockton Central Library, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1TU
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Julia Cherrett(Chairman), Cllr Derrick Brown(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Robert Gibson, Cllr Mohammed Javed, Cllr David Wilburn
Officers:
Julie Nixon, Jane Edmends, Caroline Wood, Susan Symmonds (Housing), Kerry Anderson, Ruby Poppleton(Public Health),Steven Hume(Community Safety), Chief Inspector Christopher Downes(Cleveland Police) Jenna McDonald, Graham Birtle(LDS)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Tina Large, Cllr Steven Nelson
Item Description Decision
Public
HCS
1/14
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
HCS
2/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
HCS
3/14
DRAFT MINUTES - 27TH MARCH 2014
AGREED that the minutes be approved.
HCS
4/14
OVERVIEW OF HOUSING, COMMUNITY SAFETY AND POLICE SERVICES


AGREED that officers would report back to the Committee with an update on the review of the Care Call Service at a future meeting.

AGREED that the crisis support fund be presented at a future meeting.
HCS
5/14
MONITORING THE IMPACT OF PREVIOUSLY AGREED RECOMMENDATIONS
AGREED that housing officers would report back to the Committee to give statistics on the numbers of people with loans who did not have affordability.
HCS
6/14
PROGRESS UPDATES ON PREVIOUSLY AGREED RECOMMENDATIONS
AGREED that the Modernisation Manager and the Health Improvement Specialist would report back to the Committee with the result of the school no smoking sign competition at a future meeting.

AGREED that a HR Officers presence would be requested for a future meeting.

AGREED that the recommendations be approved subject to minor amendments on Q3/4 Assessment of Progress.
HCS
7/14
WORK PROGRAMME
 

Preamble

ItemPreamble
HCS
1/14
The evacuation procedure was noted.
HCS
2/14
There were no declarations of interest.
HCS
3/14
Consideration was given to the draft minutes of the meeting held on 27th March 2014.
HCS
4/14
The Committee received a presentation which provided an overview of Housing, Community Safety and Police Services:

Members heard that in December 2013 the Housing Service and Community Safety Service within Stockton Borough Council (SBC) merged together and officer's roles became more specific. It was highlighted that the Housing and Community Safety Service included:

- Benefits Service
- Housing Options
- Housing Strategy and Regeneration
- Private Sector Housing
- Community Safety and Security Services

Members received a presentation based on Housing and Community Safety.

The key achievements for the service were highlighted together as follows:

- 30,000 extra housing benefits had been paid out
- Housing Officers were considering ways in which peoples household income could have been maximised
- Reviews were being carried out to determine whether people met the criteria for additional benefits
- works had been carried out by the housing regeneration scheme

Although it was no longer a legal requirement to produce a housing strategy officers considered it to have been good practice to have the strategy in place.

Welfare Reform was one of the biggest challenges. Officers informed Members that there had been a large increase in the amount of people considered to be in crisis.

Officers were working with families in debt and providing help and counselling where necessary. Members expressed that pay day loan companies continued to cause problems for many people when borrowing money and not being able to pay back what they owed due to high interest rates. Members expressed their concerns that a lot of people did not meet the requirements to borrow from a Credit Union which was the reason that they had to turn to a pay day lenders.

Members heard that work had been carried out in schools in the borough to educate children how to manage money and avoid debt.

Due to the growing numbers of customers in benefit services, officers felt that there was a need for the gateway service to expand.

The Committee was informed of updates on different services within Housing and Community Safety:

- A proactive approach to the introduced Pay and Display car parking in Yarm High-street had been successful. Enforcement Officers advised people on new parking regulations in the first month rather than giving parking tickets.

- Care Call connections had decreased in the borough and work had commenced to review the Care Call Service.

Members were informed of the key achievements within the Benefit Service in 2013/14, some of which included:

- Increased overpayment recovery rates
- 100% of the 395,200 Government allocation was paid out to support vulnerable clients with their housing costs
- Housing options advice provided to 4152 households
- Positive work with private landlords

The Committee was presented with Crime Statistics in Stockton Borough from the Community Safety Manager and a representative from Cleveland Police. The key issues and achievements were highlighted together as follows:

- Significant partnership work had taken place.
- Stockton Borough had seen an increase in rape crime; this was largely due to an increase in the reporting of historical offences. There was no evidence of an increase in 'stranger rape'
- While shoplifting figures had significantly increased, the end of year projection had significantly reduced due to some proactive work with Police and partners in the town centre.
- Reductions had been seen in all but four crime categories which were; Rape, robbery business, shoplifting and other theft
- Domestic burglaries had reduced by 96 crimes
- Violence had reduced by 89 crimes

The Committee was informed of the local issues around Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) It was highlighted that in the borough there had been an increase in youth related ASB and a decrease in adult related ASB. Members were informed that at the time of the meeting there were 2 Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO) issued to adults and 18 ASBOs issued to youth. Community Safety officers and Police officers believed that the increase in ASBOs was due to the intolerance of those being affected by the crime. It was heard that many people reported incidents due to an increase in confidence that the appropriate actions would be taken and followed through.

It was highlighted that Stockton on Tees remained the safest place in the Tees Valley. Overall crime had fallen by 1.8% since 2012/13.
HCS
5/14
Members were asked to consider and agree the Action Plan setting out how the agreed recommendations from the review of Welfare reform and financial inclusion were to be implemented and set target dates for completion.

It was heard that in order to make use of a Credit Union, it was important that the individual already had their own savings, however it was highlighted that those in crisis after divorce/job loss etc. may not have had chance to save in preparation to borrow.

Head of Housing informed the Committee that the Housing Benefits Team had significant control over benefit payments to those people who had been sanctioned.

Some Members of the Committee were to attend a Seminar on Debt Crisis on 27th June 2014.
HCS
6/14
The Committee was presented with a six-monthly progress report on previously agreed recommendations.

Members heard that in relation to Recommendation 1, 97% of people believed that a no smoking sign should have been placed in playgrounds. It was highlighted that there was a steering group in place aiming to involve school children in the designing of the no smoking sign, and that the winner of the competition would have their sign used in all childrens areas in the borough. Schools will also be supported to put up their own sign.

It was heard that the requirements of Recommendation 7 had been piloted in Keeping You in Touch (KYIT) to enable all members of staff to answer five questions and if necessary be referred to the Stop Smoking Service.

Members queried the lack of work time access to utilise the Stop Smoking Service. The Committee requested discussions with a Human Resources Representative.
HCS
7/14
Members were presented with a Committee Work Programme for 2014-15 to consider. Members were asked to consider possible emerging scrutiny review topics.

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