Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny and Overview Committee - Thursday, 14 May 2020 5.20 p.m.

Venue: Virtual meeting - Online. View directions

Contact: Victoria Wallace  03450 450 500 Email: democratic.services@scambs.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence from committee members. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Sarah Cheung Johnson.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2020 as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 12th March 2020 were agreed as a correct record of the meeting. Committee members agreed that noting apologies from non-committee members was unnecessary.

 

Matters arising were:

 

·       Committee members queried whether the documents requested at the previous meeting from ICT, had been circulated. The Chief Executive apologised for the delay in these being shared with committee members and would follow this up with ICT.

4.

Public Questions

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

5.

New Build Council Housing Strategy 2020-2025 pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Lead Cabinet Member for Housing presented the New Build Council Housing Strategy 2020-2025. This set out the reasons for and context within which the Council would acquire or directly commission new build affordable housing, to be owned and managed directly by the Council. This was an update to the strategy agreed in June 2015 and took into account changes to policy and practice.

 

Committee members were pleased to see a commitment in the strategy to improving the energy efficiency of housing stock. The committee was informed by the Lead Cabinet Member that the increased payback period was due to the reduction in council housing rent, which had reduced since the strategy was first written. The Lead Cabinet Member clarified that there was a clause allowing the payback period to be increased to 35 years.

 

The committee was informed by the Head of Housing that the risk register would be brought to members at a future date, following the normal reporting protocol for this.

 

The committee was informed by the Lead Cabinet Member that:

·       The Council had 43 sheltered housing schemes across the district. The 44th scheme would be at Northstowe. The schemes were well distributed across the district and tended to be in larger villages where they were most needed.

·       The right to acquire for Housing Association properties had not come into law and there was no stipulation for the size of villages in relation to this. There were a number of pilot schemes in the Midlands that were subject to the right to acquire Housing Association properties and it was thought that this may be extended, however there had been no further information regarding this from the Government. Where councils built out to rural exception sites, the right to a buy would apply. South Cambridgeshire District Council was not seeking to take forward such sites, but Housing Associations were being encouraged to do so.

·       There was a deficit in one and two-bedroom properties across South Cambridgeshire District Council and Housing Association properties. The Council was seeking to acquire and build more of these properties.

·       The committee was informed by the Head of New Build that of 350 new build properties acquired under S106 agreements, 288 were contract pending S106 acquisitions. The balance of this was expected to change slightly as the Council’s Investment Partnerships started. The Head of New Build explained that the Investment Partnerships would not affect the number of affordable properties that would be delivered.

·       The County Council determined the level of need for wardens in sheltered accommodation, which committee members highlighted had been reduced significantly due to local government cuts. The committee was informed by the Head of New Build that South Cambridgeshire District Council would actively seek opportunities to deliver more specialist accommodation, including specialist accommodation for older people.

·       Land would be allocated for co-housing in the Local Plan.

 

The Lead Cabinet Member explained the challenges regarding the economic feasibility of building energy efficient/zero carbon homes. The Council’s ambition was to lead  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Health and Wellbeing Strategy pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Lead Cabinet Member for Housing introduced the South Cambridgeshire Health and Wellbeing Strategy and informed the committee that this would be reviewed considering the Covid-19 pandemic and the Council’s role in the recovery following this. It was anticipated that mental health and family stress would be more significant issues going forward.

 

The Leader of the Council thanked officers for their work on the strategy. She informed the committee that it was likely the strategy would need to be reviewed twice a year so that it could adapt to changing situations. The Leader emphasised that the Covid-19 pandemic had demonstrated the critical role of district councils in the delivery of health and wellbeing of communities, and that without these councils the challenges of Covid-19 would be far worse.

 

The Development Officer (Health Specialist) presented the Strategy to the committee and highlighted the following:

·       The emphasis of the strategy was on prevention.

·       Having a strategy for the district positioned health and wellbeing as a strategic priority in all the Council’s plans. It was emphasised that mental and physical wellbeing was threaded through a lot of what the Council did.

·       It was important to capitalise on the positive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as how communities had come together and the data sharing that had taken place between organisations. As a result of the pandemic, the number of people exercising outdoors had increased and this should be capitalised on by increasing and improving walking and cycling infrastructure. Due to the pandemic however, it was anticipated that a rise in obesity, substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health issues would be seen. It was too early to determine what services would be needed, but this would start to emerge in the coming months.

 

The committee considered and commented on the strategy:

 

·       Referring to the ambition outlined in the strategy of building communities close to where people worked, the importance of infrastructure and communications allowing people to live where they wanted to, was emphasised. It was queried whether consideration had been given to the potential for more people to be working from home in future. The Leader of the Council informed the committee that enabling people to live in high-quality housing close to where they worked, led to better productivity. It was recognised that employment and infrastructure needed to be delivered together, with housing following this.

·       Committee members were pleased to see activities for children included in the strategy and that awareness of physical and mental health was embedded in this.

·       Committee members highlighted the importance of avoiding duplication between organisations and was informed that officers were working closely with the County Council to avoid this. Officers from both organisations were working closely to look at schemes that would benefit young people across South Cambridgeshire, which included schemes for children who had been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

·       Committee members noted that safe cycling was not mentioned in future plans and suggested that the strategy should proactively engage with the County Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 107 KB

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee’s work programme is attached with the Council’s Notice of forthcoming Key and Non-Key Decisions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee noted its work programme.

8.

To Note the Dates of Future Meetings

Tuesday 9th June 2020 at 5.20pm.

Minutes:

The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 9th June at 5.20pm. It was agreed that the committee’s pre-meeting would start at 4.25pm.

9.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The Press and public are likely to be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following agenda item in accordance with the provisions of Section 100(a)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act. Paragraph 3 relates to ‘information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person including the authority holding that information’.

 

Minutes:

The committee agreed that the press and public should be excluded from the meeting for the consideration of the confidential minutes of the previous meeting.

10.

Confidential minutes of the previous meeting

To agree the confidential minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2020.

Minutes:

The confidential minutes of the meeting held on 12th March 2020, were agreed as a correct record of the meeting.