Agenda and minutes

Communities Scrutiny Commission (previously Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Commission)
Friday, 25th November, 2016 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room 1P09, City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR

Contact: Jeremy Livitt  (0117) 9223758

Items
No. Item

37.

Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Minutes:

All parties present introduced themselves.

38.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence for this meeting (listed above) were noted.

39.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Jo Sergeant stated that she used to work in libraries.

40.

Minutes - Thursday 27th October 2016 pdf icon PDF 234 KB

Members are requested to approve the above Minutes for signature by the Chair.

Minutes:

Action Sheet - Minute Number 10 27th October 2016 Meeting: Progress Report – Cotham Trail for Glyphosate – Free Weed Treatment

 

In response to a Member’s question concerning the need for discussion with Universities to establish if further research can be carried out into trials of cider vinegar to also include the University of the West of England, the Strategic Director of Neighbourhoods stated that she would investigate this issue and report back.

 

ACTION: In addition to the University of Bristol, discussions to also take place with the University of the West of England – Alison Comley/Teija Ahjokoski

 

Resolved – that the Minutes of the above meeting be agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

41.

Action Sheets - Monday 3rd October 2016 and Thursday 27th October 2016 pdf icon PDF 36 KB

Please find attached the Action Sheet for the meeting held on Monday 3rd October 2016.

Minutes:

Members noted the Action Sheets for the last two meetings and that, where additional actions had now been confirmed since the dispatch of papers, details of these would be circulated to all members of the Scrutiny Commission after the meeting. There would be one rolling Action Sheet with outstanding actions for future meetings, with the date on which the action was requested provided in each case.

42.

Public Forum

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item

 

Any member of the public or Councillor may participate in Public Forum.

The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information

Sheet at the back of this agenda. Public Forum items should be emailed to

democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk and please note that the following deadlines

will apply in relation to this meeting:-

 

Questions - Written questions must be received 3 clear working days prior to the

meeting. For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in

this office at the latest by 5pm on Monday 21st November 2016.

 

Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received on the

working day prior to the meeting. For this meeting this means that your

submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 Noon on

Thursday 24th November 2016..

Minutes:

Members noted that no Public Forum statements had been received for this meeting.

 

43.

Chair's Business

To note announcements from the Chair.

Minutes:

The Chair reported that:

 

(1)        canvassing for providers of the Sexual Health Service in the city was currently taking place

(2)        After a long process, the DCLG had indicated that they would release the City’s byelaws

44.

Libraries Update Report pdf icon PDF 491 KB

Please find attached a report from Kate Murray (Head of Libraries)

Minutes:

The Head of Libraries stated that the report outlined the principles which had been set out in the Cabinet report and provided a complete overview of ongoing work.

 

Councillors made the following comments:

 

(1)        Whilst this report was an improvement on the one that had been submitted to the Planning Meeting, this was nevertheless a report looking back/ still ”treading water”. More future options for the service were required as well as further detail concerning the impact of budget cuts;

(2)        Further information was required on the impact in certain areas such as Library Development workers. It also needed to be clear if these proposals would help to solve the difficulties faced across the city;

(3)        There was no indication of how gaps in service provision would be filled;

(4)        The review did not recognise the constraints within which the Council operated ie that the review had been required due to budget cuts;

(5)        Since the introduction of revised opening hours, in some areas all libraries were open at the same time rather than being co-ordinated;

(6)        In relation to the 7 day service, some staff had been required to work Sundays despite not wanting to do so and despite the lack of demand for the service on this day, As confirmed by a recent Freedom of Information request;

(7)        A different form of service might be required in certain areas ie Community Asset Transfer (CAT) but that this must be done through the Council. Also, if libraries were not run successfully in the community, the possibility of the Council retaking control needed to be considered;

(8)        Access to libraries was very important – a sensible strategy to deal with the issue of opening hours was required;

(9)        The Corporate Plan needed to give an indication of the impact of the responses to  the libraries consultation process and may need further consultation since the situation had now changed;

(10)      It would be helpful to give an indication of when the proposed changes will be known;

(11)      Volunteering – until the issue of paid and unpaid staff provision had been properly looked at, local library provision could not change.

 

In response to Councillors’ comments, officers made the following points:

 

(12)      It was still too early in the process to assess the different range of options required to make a very big budget saving;

(13)      There were informal and formal friends groups operating in communities, some of which had become active when the future of some libraries had been threatened. These groups needed to be ready to support the future role of libraries;

(14)      There were significant Savings required for Year 2 and 3 for libraries, parks and Neighbourhood Partnerships. A budget consultation was taking place and there was likely to be a further service consultation post April 2017 involving all citizens

(15)      The approach taken by the Council not to close any libraries means that resources were stretched thin – future discussions concerning the service were required to avoid a “one  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

Housing Delivery - Positioning Briefing Update Paper pdf icon PDF 4 MB

Please find attached a pack of the 2nd October 2015 Inquiry Day, together with the final report. A presentation for this item will be sent out shortly to be given at the meeting by Councillor Paul Smith (Cabinet Member for Homes).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Commission received a presentation on the above issue from Paul Smith (Cabinet Member for Homes) entitled “Tackling Bristol’s Housing Crisis – the First Six Months”.

 

During this presentation, he made the following points:

 

(1)        Consultation had taken place with tenant groups, landlords, Housing Associations, developers and builders;

(2)        An advisory group comprising experts and academia had just been established;

(3)        Despite the population growing in the last year by 6,800, only 460 extra homes had been built;

(4)        Over 500 families were in temporary accommodation;

(5)        Whilst the Chancellor’s announcements had helped in some respects (ie pay to stay now being voluntary, high value home sales for right to buy being out back to 2018), there were nevertheless significant problems (ie viability assessments, welfare reforms, the spatial plan). Since average rents were £1,000, the operating environment for people was not great;

(6)        There remained 550 empty homes as at 2015/16;

(7)        The Council’s priorities for 2015 were to build new homes, reduce temporary accommodation, reduce the number of empty homes and improve standards in PRS;

(8)        80 hectares of land had been taken off the market to build new homes. Sites in Hengrove and Brislington had been given to Housing Associations. Private housing would be used to subsidise Council housing;

(9)        Members’ attention was drawn to forthcoming schemes in Lawrence Weston and Dunmail and in the Corporate Private Rented sector (ie Redcliff Quarter);

(10)      Whilst there were 6203 schemes in total, over half of these were from Hengrove and Temple Quarter – there were also smaller community led schemes for 1748 affordable homes;

(11)      A new Housing Delivery Company was being set up to project manage housing on land;

(12)      Issues relating to the legal options and relationship with the Council (ie shares, community interest etc) would be considered in a report to Cabinet in February 2017;

(13)      6 empty properties had been let to housing charities on a peppercorn rent;

(14)      The Council was also focusing on long-term voids and how to provide more structured temporary accommodation (ie in a block rather than singly), as well as re-engineering the way tenants were supported to intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to prevent eviction;

(15)      It was estimated that 250 families would be affected by a benefit cap. This could be a problem in early 2017;

(16)      Officers were working with landlords across the city to carry out necessary improvements on properties;

(17)      There was also a rogue landlord programme which included the extension of HMO’s to smaller units and the adoption of a lettings charter;

(18)      The Bristol Living Rent was being set up as a means of getting balanced communities and avoid demeaning people;

(19)      Other key areas of work included balancing the HRA, further work in tenant involvement and empowerment, work with areas such as health and sustainability, increasing density and urbanisation, as well as a piece of research to assess how realistic viability assessments were. The administration would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Work Programme

Minutes:

The Chair referred to the Work Programme. Whilst he indicated that it was now more populated than before, more items were still required. He indicated that he was happy to listen to any suggestions to add to it and stated that he would call an additional meeting of the Spokespersons if he felt this was useful.

 

He confirmed that some of the spare capacity for the March and April 2017 meetings was likely to be used for items such as libraries.

 

The following issues were raised as suggested items for inclusion in the Work Programme:

 

 (1) Hot Food Takeaways – An assessment of work carried out by other Local Authorities On Their Impact

 

ACTION: Romayne De Fonseka to add to Work Programme

 

(2)        Trees and Vegetation – Community Involvement and Development of a Tree Management Policy

 

The Council needed to consider the relationship between communities and trees on Council land, as well as a lack of funding for a Tree Management Policy. It was important to get communities more closely involved in certain issues such as the management of vegetation in particular areas of land.

 

ACTION: Jo Sergeant to clarify details with Anthony Negus and subsequent to this, Romayne De Fonseka to add to Work Programme

 

(3)        Neighbourhoods Services – Corporate Plan (Include as part of the Finance Update report on Thursday 26th January 2017)

 

ACTION: Romayne De Fonseka to Add to Work Programme       

 

There was also discussion concerning an item currently on the Work Programme relating to the Bristol Waste Company which would be considered by the Scrutiny Commission on Friday 24th February 2017. It was noted that this item would discuss progress concerning the development of the 10 Year Contract, household waste and issues relating to waste generally (such as Performance Indicators).

47.

Urban Parishes - For Information pdf icon PDF 297 KB

Please find attached this report for information.

Minutes:

Members received the above report for information

48.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 2pm on Thursday 26th January 2017.

Minutes:

Members noted that the next meeting is scheduled for 2pm on Thursday 26th January 2017.