Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Thursday, 6th June, 2013
Time:
2.30pm
Place:
Jim Cooke Suite, Stockton Central Library, Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1AU
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Julia Cherrett(Chair), Cllr Derrick Brown(Vice Chair), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Robert Gibson, Cllr David Wilburn
Officers:
Mike Batty, Julie Higgins, Julie Nixon(DNS)Peter Mennear, Sarah Whaley(LD)
In Attendance:
District Commander Alastair Simpson, Steve Nelson (Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, Michelle Anderson (DNS Observer)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Mohammed Javed
Item Description Decision
Public
HCS
15/13
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
HCS
16/13
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
AGREED that the declarations of interest be noted.
HCS
17/13
DRAFT MINUTES FROM THE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 2ND MAY 2013.
AGREED that the minutes be approved subject to the agreed changes being made.
HCS
18/13
SCRUTINY REVIEW OF WELFARE REFORM AND FINANCIAL INCLUSION - DRAFT SCOPE AND PROJECT PLAN

AGREED that the Scrutiny Review of Welfare Reform and Financial Inclusion - Draft Scope and Project Plan be accepted.
HCS
19/13
COMMUNITY PROTECTION OVERVIEW
Agreed - that the report be noted and the information requested be provided.
HCS
20/13
PROGRESS UPDATE OF PREVIOUSLY AGREED RECOMMENDATIONS
AGREED that the Progress Updates be noted.
HCS
21/13
WORK PROGRAMME
AGREED that the information be noted.
HCS
22/13
CHAIRS UPDATE
AGREED that the information be noted and all recommendations be circulated to the Members of this Committee once agreed.
2.30pm - 3.55pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
HCS
15/13
Evacuation Procedure was noted.
HCS
16/13
Cllrs Cunningham and Gibson declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in relation to item 6, ‘Community Protection Overview', as they were Board Members of Know How North East.

Cllrs Gibson and Nelson declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in relation to item no. 6, ‘Community Protection Overview', as they were Board Members of Tristar Homes.
HCS
17/13
Consideration was given to the draft minutes of the meeting held on 2nd May 2013.

A number of amendments to the draft minutes were suggested and agreed by the Committee.
HCS
18/13
Members were asked to receive and consider the draft scope and project plan for the Scrutiny Review of Welfare Reform and Financial Inclusion.

The Head of Housing presented members with the draft scope and project plan and informed the Committee that Universal Credit was still to be introduced.

The main issues discussed were as follows:

- Members felt that there was a possibility that the timeliness of the review was a little premature as Welfare Reform was still in its infancy. The Head of Housing explained that initial indications/trends of Welfare Reform could help the authority understand how this may impact in other areas of the authority, and partner organisations and that a range of issues were already becoming apparent.

- Officers explained to Members that the review would also consider wider aspects of financial inclusion and tackling poverty which included food poverty and food banks. The Head of Housing informed the Committee that as yet there was no policy in place for co-ordinating food banks and the Committee may be able to provide a view on this as part of the review. Ultimately measures needed to be put in place to alleviate hardship for people who found themselves in financial difficulty.

- Officers were informed that some Members had seen an increase in Section 21 cases and that this information needed to be communicated with Tristar Homes and could possibly be an early indication of the impact of Welfare Reform.

- It was highlighted that this review also had close links with a separate review of ‘Child Poverty' and it was critical that this Committee and the Arts Leisure and Culture Select Committee shared information during both reviews.

- The Head of Housing informed the Committee that a 25% increase in residents using the Citizens Advice service had been recorded, and that data was constantly being collated to establish which sectors of the public were being affected.

The Chairman explained to Members that due to the nature of the review and the constantly changing national picture, the Committee may need to report to Cabinet with interim recommendations, in addition to a final summary report.
HCS
19/13
The Head of Community Protection presented Members with an annual update of the Stockton Borough Council Community Protection Service which highlighted the successes and challenges the service had achieved/endured over the last 12 months.

The main issues discussed were as follows:

- Members were informed that the crime and disorder figures for 2012/2013 were the second best year of crimes recorded even though there had been a reduction in resources. This highlighted that although the service was spending less it was achieving similar results, indicating the service was providing good value for money.

- T/Superintendent Alastair Simpson, Stockton's District Commander highlighted to the Committee that approximately 28 crimes per day were committed in Stockton which included public and business crimes. This sent out a good reassurance message to residents.

- Committee members were informed that there had been an increase in shoplifting offences however these seemed to be aimed at the larger retailers.

- The Council survey suggested people were feeling safer in and around the borough, however Members questioned, why in some areas, there was media focus reporting Ward Priorities which included issues that had already been dealt with before going to press. Most residents were either not aware of the issue or thought it had been dealt with. Reading about it again caused some to assume it was a new incident and increased fear that crime was increasing in and around their area. The Head of Community Protection and the District Commander for Stockton explained to the committee that it had been raised with the Communication Manager of Cleveland Police who would be raising it at a future meeting with the local press.

- The Committee's attention was drawn to the reduction in crime surrounding Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB). Members queried whether a shift in responsibility had impacted on the figures and were more ASB crimes being dealt with by the local authority?. Stockton's District Commander assured members that police practice had not changed, and the Head of Community Protection added that there was nothing to indicate that residents had lost confidence in the police and neither was there evidence to show that Stockton Borough Councils services were being relied on more by residents. Members requested that they were provided with Tristar Homes ASB figures as these were not included in the report. The Head of Community Protection agreed to circulate these to Members of the Committee.

- The Head of Community Protection drew Members attention to increasing numbers of so called status dogs in the area with current figures showing that bull breeds were disproportionately represented.

- Members were informed that there had been a higher level of prosecutions regarding food hygiene in food establishments in the borough which were not adhering to minimum food hygiene requirements. The Committee asked that the Head of Community Protection circulate figures to Members which highlighted those establishments which had been forced to close down due to poor standards.

- Following a previous review of Community Safety and Security, Members discussed the implementation of the new flare system which had been a recommendation during the review. The new system would allow residents, the ability to track their complaints online and update their case records. The Head of Community Protection confirmed that the new system would be live over the next 6 months.

Issues were discussed surrounding the future challenges the service had to face over the next 12 months which included the following:

- Further budget reductions.

- Continuing work on the Cleveland Dyke contamination Project.

- The new functional structure for Cleveland Police. Stockton's District Commander informed the Committee that the new model was to promote a more flexible, responsive and efficient force
HCS
20/13
Members considered the assessments of progress contained within the attached Progress Updates on the implementation of previously agreed recommendations.
HCS
21/13
Members considered the future work programme for the Scrutiny Review of Welfare Reform and Financial Inclusion.
HCS
22/13
The Chair informed the Committee that there was a tripartite meeting which was to be held on the 6th June 2013, to agree the recommendations of the Review of Tobacco Control prior to them being submitted to Cabinet on the 11th July 2013.

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