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Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Communities and Services) Minutes    

Date: Tuesday 26 April 2022       Time: 06:00 PM       Location: Council Chamber       Contact:

Attendance Details

Present:Councillor Barry Answer, Councillor Debra Barlow, Councillor Bill Drewett, Councillor Ann Norman, Councillor John Smart, Councillor Sue Swinscoe, Councillor Sidney Walker, Councillor Stuart Wallace
In AttendanceAttendees
In Attendance:David Evans, Jill Finnesey, Sian Booth, Paul Dawson, Gabriella Wright, Councillor June Stendall, Councillor Philip Shields
ItemDescriptionBackground InformationDecision

There were no apologies for absence.

There were no Declarations of Interest.

There were no questions from members of the public.

The Minutes were proposed as an accurate record of the meeting by Councillor Smart and seconded by Councillor Norman.

The motion was carried by the Committee.

There were two outstanding actions from the last Minutes, a list of contacts for Members and leaflets available in different languages. These were noted for completion.

Minutes of the meeting held on 15 March 2022

That the Minutes of the last meeting were a true record of the meeting that took place on 15 March 2022.

The Chair informed the Committee that the updated Draft Work Programme was in Appendix 1. The Chair was pleased to see the addition of Delegated Decision notifications at each meeting to advise the Committee of upcoming Delegated Decisions.

Councillor Stendall advised the Committee that a list of proposed items for the Draft Work Programme had been sent to the Chair for consideration but had not been included within the Draft Work Programme 2022-2023.

The Chair informed Councillor Stendall that the list would be reviewed with a view to additions to the Draft Work Programme if within the remit of this Committee.

Councillor Smart queried if there was a register of refugees from the Ukraine. The Member queried this with reference to the FoodShare Scheme.

The Head of Housing advised that there was no Register. The Council were not always aware of refugees moving into Mansfield. Unless the refugees had been a part of the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

The Head of Housing advised the Committee that there was a Nottinghamshire County Council Support number which was available to offer advice and support to Members and Ukrainian Refugees which was 0300 500 8080.

Councillor Shields advised that an update on the ASB Recommendations was not on the Draft Work Programme 2022-2023.

The Head of Health and Communities advised that this would be added to the Draft Work Programme for June 2022.

Councillor Stendall queried the empty units at Langford Road and the rarely used Langford Road Tenants room and asked if they were going to be reviewed with the possibility of a change of use to provide housing.

The Head of Housing advised that all Community Centres and Tenants meeting rooms were under review and where they were under utilised feasibility would be look into for conversion into accommodation.

The Head of Housing advised that this would be added to the June/July meeting 2022.

The Head of Health and Communities advised that within the Draft Work Programme the PSPO topic would need to be moved from September to July 2022.

Councillor Smart noted all of the changes mentioned and advised that a review of the topics would need to be taken into consideration to avoid a heavy Agenda in one meeting and reduced topics in another.

The Head of Health and Communities agreed with the Member, and advised that the Environmental Health item would be moved from July to September 2022.

The Chair asked that once the Draft Work Programme had been rescheduled that it be distributed to the Members of the Committee.

The Chair asked for a Proposer to accept the report for noting with additional comments.

It was proposed by Councillor Norman and seconded by Councillor Smart.

The motion was carried.

Report of the Chair of Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Communities)

Draft Work Programme 2022-2023

That the attached Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Communities & Services) work programme for 2022/2023 (Appendix 1) be noted and that further issues suggested by Members be noted for inclusion in the work programme.

The Chair asked the Housing Solutions Team Leader to provide a brief summary of the report to the Committee.
The Officer advised that there were now 6.5K housing applications that were active on Homefinder. Of that amount 2600 were families, of these 1387 were in priority band 1 –3. There were 699 families living in overcrowded housing and required a 3 bedroomed house or larger. For the period 2021-2022 only 3 four bedroomed houses were advertised, 92 three bedroomed houses and 88 two bedroomed houses this amount included both Council housing and Housing Association Partners.
The Committee was informed that the Council was actively trying to encourage those in under occupied homes to downsize to a smaller property. The Committee was informed that there was currently 143 social housing tenancies that were under-occupied. The figure included both Council and Social Housing properties. The Members were advised that of the 143 under occupied properties 86 people were single occupiers and 33 were couples, and they were currently in three bedroomed properties. The vast majority of these people were over 60 and looking to move into two bedroomed bungalows. The Members were informed that only 69 two bedroomed bungalows were let last year.
The Members were informed that there was a massive demand for housing across Mansfield and Nottinghamshire.
The Committee was advised that the Housing Team had reviewed how other authorities had successfully let sheltered properties. This included decoration of the properties, carpeting them and providing white goods. Other methods utilised included signage outside of properties to advise the vacancies, use of video viewings on the system so that people could view the properties available.
Priority would be given to those who were downsizing when available properties become available.
To ensure that all people were reached the Housing Team write to current tenants who are not on Homefinder to try to encourage them to look at downsizing their property.
Councillor Barlow felt that people over the age of 80 may not use a computer and did not have the support of family members to look on Homefinder on their behalf. The Member felt that as a Council we should be more user friendly. The Member had noticed that the Housing Officer that used to attend the Town Hall on a fortnightly basis no longer did this. This Housing Officer had been extremely helpful especially for the elderly.
The Member noted within the report that carpets were being put into properties to make them more attractive. The Member knew of a property where a resident had recently re-carpeted the entire property before he had died, all of the carpets had been stripped out of the property. The Member felt that where the property had carpets in good condition that the new tenants should have the option to keep them or have them removed if they did not want them. The Member felt that a lot of people would be grateful to have the carpeting in place.
The Housing Solutions Team Leader responded that they were not involved in the Voids strip out process. However, he would take this back to the Voids Manager, and pass on the Members comments and ask that the Voids Inspector take note of the state of the carpets and if they were in good enough condition leave them in the property to let the incoming tenant take the decision as to if they should be stripped out or not. If this was feasible to do this.
Councillor Wallace stated that an understanding of the policy that the Council have when someone vacates a property would be beneficial. To understand the standard that the house has to be left in to avoid any financial penalties.
The Head of Housing advised that a review of the Tenancy Conditions was taking place this would include tenant’s expectations on taking a tenancy and the Council’s expectations when a tenant leaves a property. Where there has been damage caused to a property this would result in charges to the tenant. However, the Council look at each cases circumstances.
The Chair stated that at the September 2022 meeting currently on the Agenda was Housing Repairs Update, housing stock update etc. A report on the review of Tenancy conditions should be brought to that meeting to include what the Council Policy was.
Councillor Smart was aware of tenants who were in larger properties and had no intention of downsizing. The tenants were informed that they would be prioritised for a bungalow but did not want to move.
The Member wanted to extend his thanks to Paul Dawson and his team for the re-housing of a veteran who was in great need of a property.
Councillor Swinscoe informed the Committee that she was aware of a couple that had a three bedroomed property and wanted to downsize to a two bedroom property so that their grand child could stay with them, this was refused. As a result the couple did not downsize.
The Housing Officer responded that a two bedroomed property could not be let to someone who had a child stay temporarily. The Officer also stated that there were insufficient two bedroomed properties to be able to do this. The Officer advised that there were lots of flats available.
Councillor Swinscoe asked if a house swap would resolve the issue a three bedroomed property for a two bedroom property.
The Officer responded that would be acceptable.
The Member asked if the Council had a Right to Buy Back Policy.
The Head of Housing responded that they did not.
Councillor Shields stated that the 6,500 Housing Applications against the amount of housing available meant that the majority of the applications would not result in them getting a house. The Member felt that potentially the banding system needed to be amended to reflect this.
The Officer advised that there was a joint banding system with Ashfield District Council and a joint Homefinder System. To be able to change the lettings policy there needs to be an agreement with Ashfield District Council. Although Members in Mansfield were happy to look at amendments to the Policy. Ashfield District Council did not think that it was the right time to do this.
There was a review under way to look at the potential benefits/costs of having a separate Mansfield Homefinder website with a Mansfield Homes Letting Policy to enable the review of the banding system and the way it would be administered.
Councillor Norman advised that people not just elderly people want to remain where their neighbours are. The Member also stated that in some cases even when a person wants to move to a smaller property in the same neighbourhood they could not afford the moving costs. There were a number of factors that affect why people do not want to move.
Councillor Barlow queried if the Ashfield and Mansfield Homefinder was linked into other housing.
The Officer advised that there were ten Housing Association that were duty bound to offer their properties on the Homefinder website.
The Officer stated that it was important to manage people’s expectations with regards to the amount of available social housing.
The report was accepted for noting.

Briefing Paper
That the report be accepted for noting.

The Cultural Services Manager informed the Committee that the Council were considering applying to become a National Portfolio organisation. The Committee was informed that the National Portfolio was every four years, this would be the first time that Mansfield District Council had considered applying for this.
The Members were advised that all National Portfolio Organisations were required to deliver against the Arts Council’s 10 year strategy.
The Members were advised that a meeting with the Arts Council had taken place where the Council’s Proposed Activity Plan was presented and that it was well received.
If the application was successful the Council would have to establish governance arrangements through an ‘oversight’ group. To monitor the progress and achievements. This would need to be in place by 1 April 2023. It was recommended to the Committee that this process would be provided through a cross committee Overview & Scrutiny Working Group.
The Committee was informed that the NPO’s have a series of agreed target and success measures and it would be essential to meet all of these requirements or the funding could be withheld or withdrawn.
The Officer advised that the Council would be applying for approximately £560K. As Mansfield was an Arts Council priority place. Mansfield was also one of the 109 Levelling up Culture Places. It was therefore a great opportunity for Mansfield to apply for the National Portfolio
The Committee was advised that the projects were indicated within the report at paragraph 2.10.
Councillor Smart queried who at the Council would be delivering this.
The Head of Health and Communities advised that this would be led by the Cultural Services Manager, with support from the Team and partners. If the Council were successful it would be Mansfield District Council Cultural Services who would become a National Portfolio Organisation. If successful the Council would need to have established governance arrangements. It was therefore important to consider what the monitoring arrangements would be. The report was brought to Committee as the application would be submitted, and if successful the Council would like to use Overview & Scrutiny as the vehicle to monitor the project. If successful it would be a significant programme of works and because of the size may be a sub-committee Working Group. The group would be an Overview & Scrutiny Working Group which may in time include a cross body membership which would be independent of the executive.
Councillor Swinscoe queried the sort of activities that would be provided, how it was planned to target the priority cohorts and how success would be monitored.
The Cultural Services Manager responded that as part of the application there were strict targets set with performance indicators aligned to the projects. E.g. 50% of the priority 1 target will be female, with specific diversity targets.
The success would be measured by the achievement of the targets set. This would be monitored by working group and the Arts Council would hold the Council accountable.
To target the priority cohorts this would be achieved by Community Creative Groups which would be community led. Relationships have been built over the last 18 months with partners who would support us with this for example the Active Learning Programme which has had excellent success in engaging with Primary Schools. Also the engagement of Secondary Schools and Further Education. There would be a large piece of works around that.
The Chair suggested that the detail around the activities would be better explained in a report that itemised the activities.
The Head of Health and Communities stated that this was a massive piece of work and at the appropriate time the Head of Health and Communities suggested that there should be a Member briefing on this. The Head of Health and Communities stated that to become a National Portfolio Organisation would increase Mansfield District Council’s reputation and profile as a place of Culture and Art.
Councillor Stendall felt that this should be a permanent group made up of all Committees not restricted to Overview and Scrutiny Groups. That a separate Committee Group be formed and Members appointed to it.
The Head of Health and Communities advised that in terms of the governance still being reviewed. The Working Group would not be a permanent group however, it would be a longer term Working Group for the duration of being a National Portfolio Organisation. The operational responsibility would be with the Council, the responsibility the Working Group would have would be to ensure that the Council were delivering on the objectives that had been set. The Working Group would be the check and balance on this.
The Chair suggested that the Member’s Briefing on the National Portfolio take place at the Palace Theatre and that this would be the opportunity for Members to also have a tour of the Theatre and Museum.
The Head of Health and Communities agreed that this would be a good venue for the Members Briefing. It would be a good opportunity for the Members to have a look around.
The Head of Health and Communities stated that the significance of being a National Portfolio Organisation was the importance of taking Culture and Arts outside of the walls of the Theatre and Museum. It was recognised that lots of people would never go to a Theatre or Museum, the NPO provided the Council with the opportunity of taking Arts and Culture to the people as it provides the funding to be able to do this.
Councillor Norman felt that it was valuable to teach the children how to appreciate art. The Member stated that there were a lot of very important pieces of Arts in the Museum.
The report was accepted for noting. Proposed by Councillor Norman and seconded by Councillor Smart. The motion was carried.

Briefing Paper
That the report be accepted for noting

The Head of Health and Communities provided an update on project progress since the decision taken by Council on 8 March 2022 to allocate earmarked reserves and approve potential borrowing to go towards the capital cost of the project. In respect to the Towns Fund element of the project, the business case is now complete subject to internal checks and reviews as is the case for all Towns Fund Projects.
Further progress has also been made in plans to submit a funding application to Sport England. An onsite meeting will be held with Sport England in May and work has commenced to complete the initial draft Expression of Interest.
In terms of the design and development of the scheme, work has now been completed to conclude RIBA Stage 2. The outcome of this work has been used to inform the Towns Fund business case
At the Council meeting on 8 March 2022, it was also agreed that arrangements be put into place to establish the involvement of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee in monitoring the ongoing development and progress of the project. The report brought to Committee therefore suggests that a Working Group is established comprising membership from across all Overview & Scrutiny Committees.
The Working Group would set its own Terms of Reference, frequency of meetings and the timeline for reporting back to this Committee. It is proposed that the Working Group should be established as soon as possible, but should there be any delays, the Draft Work Programme for this Committee includes a project update for the Warsop Health Hub in June 2022 should it be required
Councillor Barlow asked if there was a proposed site on Carr Lane Park
The Head of Health and Communities responded to describe the proposed location of the facility on the Carr Lane Park site.
Councillor Barlow commented that a lot of the Members and residents were disappointed about the size of the pool and asked if the costs were known to increase the size of the pool.
The Head of Health and Communities advised that the scheme being developed, and the facility mix proposed, has been informed by the detailed insight work undertaken in the Warsop community back in 2019. The outcomes of this were used to reflect the need identified by the community. The proposals therefore respond to this as well as the new facility funding strategy of Sport England. If the Council was to now put forward a larger scheme this would significantly increase cost and would result in a facility that does not meet the identified needs of the local community. It would also increase the future operating revenue costs which would threaten the sustainability of the facility. This would present a significant concern to funders with the risk that they would no longer be willing to support the scheme.
Councillor Smart commented that at this point in time he felt that there would be little for a Working Group to do on this project. The Member felt that the work really started once the funding was in place.
Councillor Smart suggested having a couple of people from the Warsop Parish Council.
Councillor Barlow reminded the Member that she was a member of the Warsop Parish Council.
Councillor Wallace disagreed with Councillor Smart as from the figures that were presented at the Council meeting there would be a lot to look at. The Member felt that there was a need to see more information. The Member felt that the Working Group had to commence as quickly as possible so that the figures and business case could be reviewed. The Member felt the need to ensure that the Warsop Hub Project was fair for everyone in Mansfield and to ensure that the Council was getting value for money, and that they deliver a facility that was fit for purpose and was fully sustainable.
Councillor Smart agreed that it was important but nothing could be done until the funding had been approved.
The Head of Health and Communities advice would be to start the Working Group as soon as possible. Whilst agreeing with Councillor Smart that there were limitations as to what could be done prior to all necessary funding being secured, there was still a lot of work for the Working Group to do that could start immediately including familiarisation with the scheme; consideration for the process of engagement with the community and stakeholders; and scrutiny of the future potential operating models for the site.
Councillor Norman commented that the value of the project was more than just the swimming pool and facilities but the available rooms so that the community could get together. Also consideration was needed as to what the rooms would be used for which would then lead to the physical requirements such as sliding doors etc.
Councillor Stendall felt that the Working Group should be open to all Members not just Overview & Scrutiny Committees. The Member felt that Warsop Update that was on the Agenda for June 2022 should be seen by all Members. That all Members should be invited to the Meeting to hear the report.
Councillor Barlow liked the comment regarding members of the Parish Council being included and felt that invitations to the Parish Council would be welcomed. The Member felt that it would show the people of the parish that the Council were being fully transparent.
The Chair felt that members of the Parish Council and members of the public could attend the meeting which he felt could be held in Warsop on occasion.
The Head of Health and Communities advised that the Warsop Hub Update was on the Draft Work Programme for June 2022 in case the Working Group had not been set up or if the Committee did not endorse the recommendations. If the Working Group is approved it would not be on the Agenda for June 2022.
The Officer advised that the Working Group would have the opportunity to receive first-hand information from the Consultants involved in the development of the project through their attendance at Working Group meetings.
The Chair read out the recommendation to the Committee and suggested that all Members be invited to join the Working Group. Once the Working Group has been established than members of the public or other interested parties may be invited to the Working Group.
Proposed by Councillor Drewett and seconded by Councillor Barlow
The motion was carried by the Committee.

Briefing Paper
That an Overview & Scrutiny Working Group be established that is open to all Members to oversee the future scrutiny arrangements of the project throughout each stage of its development
Published 09/05/2022 10:25:46