Agenda and minutes

Communities Scrutiny Commission
Monday, 12th November, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: City Hall, College Green, Bristol

Contact: Dan Berlin 

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and explained relevant the safety information.

 

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Cllr Graham Morris

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None

 

4.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Minutes:

The draft minutes of the previous meeting (10th September 2018) were agreed as a correct record of the meeting by the Members.

 

5.

Communities Scrutiny Commission Action Tracker pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members requested further information about the Waste Collection and Disposal Services in Bristol item, including where the plan to provide households with extra recycling provision originated and what was happening now.

 

All other actions updated and completed.

 

ACTION: Officer to provide update on the background of the plan to provide households with extra recycling provision and what is happening now.

 

6.

Chair's Business

Minutes:

None

 

7.

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 5 pm on Tuesday 6th November 2018

 

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 Friday 9th November 2018

Minutes:

The following Public Forum was received:

·           Question 1:  Agenda Item 12 : Corporate Risk Register Report - Cllr Clive Stevens

 

Answer to the question was provided to Cllr Stevens at Agenda item 12. 

 

8.

Housing Crisis - Bristol Housing Market and Trends pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Please note: there is a joint presentation for the Housing Crisis and Private Rented Sector Items

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sarah Spicer,Business Planning and Service Development Manager, Bristol City Council, delivered a presentation (the slides are included in the published pack).

 

The following are some of the key discussion points:

·         Comparing house prices in Bristol to those in other Core Cities in the decade between August 2008 and August 2018 indicates that not only does Bristol have the highest average house price of all the Core Cities, it has also seen the highest percentage increase.

·         In August 2018 the average house price in Bristol was £282,624, 21.4% higher than the UK average

·         There is a growing disparity between housing benefit rates and actual market rents across the city.

·         The increase in Part 7 housing acceptances in Bristol reflects the increase in demand for homelessness prevention services city wide over the past five year period.

·         Rough sleepers and households in temporary accommodation represent an element of housing need, not taking into account hidden homelessness (sofa surfing etc) and households in appropriate accommodation.

·         The City is on track to deliver 800 new affordable homes in 2020/21, in-line with the target set by the political administration. 

 

The Chair asked about the divergence between the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and market rents

 

Officers’ responses:

o   The 4 year period of a freeze on LHA is not yet over, and there is no indication of a review at the end of the 4 year period.

o   The LHA applied to Bristol includes South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.  This is an issue as markets in the Authorities are different.  

o   Cabinet Member met with Secretary of State and raised the disparity as an issue for Bristol, and requested that Bristol is treated as one market rather than within a wider housing market area. 

Discussion about homelessness and rough sleeping in Bristol.  Questions raised:

o   A Member requested clarification of Part 7.

o   A Member asked what the main issues leading to homelessness are.

o   A Member asked if there is an understanding of reasons for different levels of presenting as homelessness across different groups (highlighted care leavers having a higher rate of presenting as homeless).

o   A Member requested clarification of how the rough sleeping data is collected. 

o   A Member asked if there is data on how many homeless people have come in to the city from other parts of the country, and if there is any analysis of reasons for this.

Officers’ responses:

o   Part 7 of the 1996 Housing Act is primary homelessness legislation, providing the statutory under-pinning for action to prevent homelessness and provide assistance to people threatened with or actually homeless. In April 2018 Part 7 was amended with the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, which has placed further duties on the Council to enable access to assistance to people to prevent homelessness. 

o   The Council has noted a lot of people have lost their rented accommodation in the private sector, with a high amount of s21 notices being served, which provides private tenants with 2 months notice  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Private Rented Sector - Update pdf icon PDF 595 KB

Please note: there is a joint presentation for the Housing Crisis and Private Rented Sector Items

Minutes:

Tom Gilchrist, Private Housing and Accessible Homes Manager, delivered a presentation (the slides are included in the published pack).

 

The following are some of the key discussion points:

·         Selective and Additional licensing schemes in Bristol

·         Stapleton Road scheme covered 1,226 properties (1,023 Selective licensed and 203 Additional licensed).

o   It ran for five years and was completed in April 2018. 

o   845 (70%) of properties required improvements to meet licensing conditions

o   517 formal and informal notices were served requiring improvement

·         Eastville and St George scheme covers approximately 2,800 properties.

o   It came into force on 1 July 2016 and will run until 30 June 2021.

o   2,454 licenses have been issued so far (selective 2,284 and Additional 170)

o   So far 1496 properties have been inspected and 646 (43%) have required improvements to meet licensing conditions

Discussion about property licensing schemes.  Key points made by Officers:

o   In light of High Court case the license fee must be split into a processing fee and enforcement fee.  The Council is about to begin a 6 week consultation on how to split the existing fee

o   The Council can only use income of property licensing fees for property licensing related issues.

o   The level of fee will go up as it will be administratively more burdensome. 

o   Fee is 1 off payment for 5 year term.  Stapleton road scheme ran small deficit (loss of £90K over 5 years; turnover of £1.2M. 

o   The Council will be commissioning another report to identify areas with serious hazards and poor property management.  This evidence triggers consultation in the areas.

o   By taking a small area the Council can commit to inspecting every property in the areas over 5 years

o   Majority of L/lords wanted us to deal with problem properties bringing areas down.  Combination of large and small landlords involved

o   Government view is that after the 5 year period an Authority will not need to re-designate the same area. Plan is to come back to cabinet with proposals for future licencing schemes.

 

A Member was concerned that that not continuing running the scheme in an area after 5 years may lead to standards slipping.

 

Cabinet Member: The Council is only allowed to cover 20% of the City at one time for licencing schemes, and so it makes sense to move on after bringing an area up to a standard.  The licensing schemes cannot cover the whole city without Secretary of State approval, which has not been provided nationally since 2013. There is a need to justify the set-up of schemes based on evidence, including demonstrating significant risks and management in the areas.  After the 5 year period, this evidence would need to be produce to carry on in the same area.  Other Local Authorities have been challenged using this approach.

 

A Member observed that local people were concerned why Easton was originally chosen for the licence scheme; although there is a general acceptance that it has been a positive in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Vehicle Dwellers Encampment Policy Consultation pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Penny Germon, Neighbourhoods & Communities Service Manager, delivered a presentation (the slides are included in the published pack).

 

The following are some of the key discussion points:

·         Selective and Additional licencing schemes in Bristol

·         Numbers of vehicle dwellers have increased significantly.

·         There is a need for a policy for managing vehicle encampments on the highway.

·         The consultation outcomes shows a similar number agreeing and disagreeing with the proposed approach; and a clear majority support 9 out of the 10 criteria to assess impact:

o   The nature, suitability or obtrusiveness of the encampment.

o   The level of any nuisance including noise.

o   The number, validity and seriousness of any complaints.

o   The level of damage caused by the occupiers.

o    Proximity to residential properties

o   Proximity to  schools, children’s play and public amenities

o   The size and concentration of the encampment

o   Human and domestic waste management

o   General crime and public order offences.

 

·         There is a need for a policy for managing vehicle encampments on the highway.

 

The Chair asked about the cost of providing sites, whether they would be self-financing or Council funded

 

Officer response:

o   Sites would need to be self-sufficient. 

 

A Member raised the point that geographical locations of the sites are important, and that we need to know where people will tolerate sites across the City.

Officers’ responses:

o   There was not a reference to alternative sites in the consultation

o   A number of van dwellers from Greenbank went to Avonmouth site.

 

 

Discussion about definition of Vehicle Dweller encampments and how they are distinct from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller encampments.  Officers’ key points:

 

o   The Vehicle Dwelling Encampment Policy covers all vehicles, whether or not they can be moved, including caravans.

o   Where people living in vehicles do not self-describe as Gypsies Roma’s and Travellers, local authorities have no specific duties towards them such as the provision of a designated transit site.  The Council has a separate protocol with the police for managing unauthorised Gypsy, Roma and Traveller encampments

o   Vehicle dwellers tend to remain (live and work) within a locality; whereas Gypsy Roma and Travellers are generally more transient (although it is recognised that this does not exclude those who are living in houses as being Gypsy Roma and Traveller, as the person’s ethnic identity is not lost when members of the communities settle).  It is the case that a Gypsy and Traveller site does not have permanent residents, as the maximum stay is for 13 weeks.   

o   Most vehicle dwellers live and work in Bristol. 

 

Cabinet Member:  most vehicle dwellers want to live in central Bristol, although this is difficult with parking restrictions. 

 

A Member asked if the Avonmouth site is cost neutral.  Officer response:

o   It is cost neutral. The Vehicle Dwellers on site pay for facilities. The Council owns the land. Going to market for lease.  The Council has a possession order and the Vehicle Dwellers will leave when there is an occupant.

 

A Member asked how the new policy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Safer Bristol - Statistics pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members noted the report and slides (included in the published public pack).

There were no questions

 

12.

Risk Register pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Response to the Public Forum question was provided to Cllr Stevens. 

Officer response:

o   Narrative of The Risk Register doesn’t look at benefits of trees, but risks of management of trees. 

Cllr Stevens was offered opportunity for Gemma Dando’s team to provide further details about the tree service out of the meeting. 

 

13.

Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 423 KB

For Information

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that in the context of the Directorate restructure, the Communities Commission will keep to its work programme.

 

The Chair asked Members to make submissions of any further queries and points for all the agenda items, and the Communities Commission can feed up to OSMB.

 

ACTION: Members to send any further points / queries about the topics discussed on this agenda to Dan Berlin, Scrutiny Advisor, at Scrutiny@bristol.gov.uk