Agenda and minutes

Policy Development Panel - Tuesday, 5th July, 2016 6.30 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, Council Offices, Priory Road, Spalding

Contact: Christine Morgan  01775 764454

Items
No. Item

1.

Declaration of Interests

Where a Councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest the Councillor must declare the interest to the meeting and leave the room without participating in any discussion or making a statement on the item, except where a councillor is permitted to remain as a result of a grant of dispensation.

Minutes:

There were none.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To sign as a correct record the minutes of the following meetings:

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the following meetings were agreed as a correct record:

 

a)         Policy Development Panel – 26 April 2016;

 

b)         Joint Performance Monitoring Panel and Policy Development Panel –       26 April 2016; and

 

c)         Joint Performance Monitoring Panel and Policy Development Panel – 16 May 2016. 

3.

Questions asked under Standing Order 6

Minutes:

There were none.

4.

Tracking of recommendations

To consider responses of the Cabinet to reports of the Panel. 

Minutes:

There were none.

5.

Items referred from the Performance Monitoring Panel

Minutes:

There were none.

6.

Key Decision Plan pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To note the current Key Decision Plan (copy enclosed).  

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Key Decision Plan, published on 6 June 2016.

 

AGREED:

 

That the Key Decision Plan be noted. 

7.

Addressing Long Term Empty Homes pdf icon PDF 74 KB

To provide an update on the current situation relating to long term empty homes in South Holland (report of the Executive Director Place enclosed)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director Place on addressing Long Term Empty Homes. 

 

Richard Scorthorne, Housing Landlord Manager was in attendance to present the report and answer members’ questions. 

 

On 13 January 2016, a report was presented to the Panel providing an update on long term empty homes within the District.  At that meeting a further update was requested to be provided.

 

As requested the report provided an update on the Council’s approach to returning long term empty homes into use.  The report included information about the work of the Private Sector Housing Team and the work the team has undertaken to return dwellings to use and the progress made towards the actions that were identified in the Council’s Empty Homes Strategy 2014 – 2016. 

 

In October 2015, there were 258 empty properties within the District, this had been a reduction of 13 on the previous year. 

 

As of 31 May 2016, there were 224 empty properties, of which 141 had been empty for between 6 months and 2 years; and 83 had been empty for over 2 years. 

 

From 1 January 2016 to 31 May 2016, 133 properties had been brought back into use.  Of those properties, 52 were brought back into use due to the direct intervention of the Team.

 

It was noted that it was inevitable homes would become empty during the course of each year, for a variety of reasons, such as, death of the owner/occupier, owner/occupier moved into residential care, repossession and renovation. 

 

The Empty Homes Strategy 2014 – 2016 set out the Council’s approach to returning empty homes into use.  The Strategy established 4 priorities:

 

·                Understand the extent of empty homes in the District, including their             location and reason for being vacant;

 

·                Raising awareness of empty dwellings in the District, develop             partnerships that could assist in the authority in addressing those issues;

 

·                Development of a range of options; incentives and measures that were designed to assist, encourage and where necessary compel owners to return their property back into use; and

 

·                Ensure that there were adequate resources to undertake empty homes work, and the development of a systematic approach to dealing with empty homes in the future. 

 

The Strategy also provided a number of actions that were to be completed, the progress made on those actions were included in Appendix A of the written report. 

 

The Private Sector Housing Team were also in the process of working on 4 priority cases of empty homes.  It was anticipated that those cases may result in legal action being undertaken by the Council, which may include the use of Compulsory Purchase powers or an enforced sale. 

 

Members were very impressed with the work of the Private Sector Housing Team.  It was very important to all members that homes were returned to use as quickly as possible, especially as there was a nationwide shortage of housing. 

 

Members raised the following questions and The Housing Landlord Manager provided responses:

 

·         Was there a reluctance from officers to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Policy Development Panel Work Programme pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To set out the Work Programme of the Policy Development Panel (report of the Executive Manager Governance enclosed)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Executive Manager Governance, which set out the Work Programme of the Policy Development Panel.  The Work Programme consisted of two sections, setting out dates of future meetings with proposed items for consideration and second, setting out the Task Groups that had been identified by the Panel. 

 

The Chairman discussed with members a number of items that the Panel could consider.

 

·         Paper and Postage Costs throughout the Authority:

 

The Chairman was keen to lessen the amount of paper used throughout the Authority and postage costs.  Members agendas and other various items of correspondence alone was a great cost, it was felt that a reduction was necessary especially as digitalisation was high on the Council’s agenda.

 

The Chairman suggested that a Task Group could be formed by members of the Panel to look at the current situation and look at the possibility of developing a strategy on how the achieve a reduction. 

 

Councillor McLean added that this could be a broader topic, looking and what resources are used and if there is any wastage that could be improved upon, looking at a possible waste strategy. 

 

The Executive Director Place confirmed that reduction in the use of paper and postage was part of the digital and transformation agenda.  Members were advised that it may be more beneficial to have a specific focus for the Task Group rather than reduction of waste as this was a very broad topic.  It was noted that Task Groups were designed to be focused on specific areas in order to achieve an outcome in a specific time frame. 

 

It was agreed that a Task Group would be formed to look at paper and postage throughout the authority, with a view of developing policy to help maintain a reduction, keeping in line with the digital and transformation  agenda. 

 

The Chairman invited members to put themselves forward to sit on the Task Group.  Councillors J Astill, H Drury, A Woolf and J McLean, all agreed to form the membership. 

 

·         Planning Guidance:

 

There had been some concerns from members about the quality of design of properties being built within South Holland.  Members enquired if there was any guidance that could be provided to applicants guide them when designing properties, to help enhance the look of the area. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Executive Director Place reminded members that they had been advised at previous meetings that due to Planning law there was very little that the Council could enforce regarding the quality of designs.  South Holland’s planning service provided all applicants with the opportunity of pre-application advice, at no cost, which when used did improve the look of properties in completed applications.  

 

The Chairman requested that a Planning Officer be invited to the next meeting to discuss pre-application guidance, to include the positive impact the planning service’s guidance had on applications.  

 

·         Public Open Spaces:

 

Councillors Tyrrell and Eldridge expressed concerns regarding management agreements for public open space on developments.  There had been occasions where developers had agreed to provide  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Progress report from the Town Centre Manager

At its meeting on 13 January 2016, the Panel agreed that a voluntary code for shopkeepers be agreed between the Spalding Town Centre Manager, the various Chambers of Commerce, and shopkeepers in the town.

 

It also requested that the Town Centre Manager be invited to attend a meeting of the Panel in six months time to provide an update on how this was progressing.

 

The Town Centre Manager, Mr Dennis Hannant will therefore be in attendance to provide an update.

Minutes:

The Chairman agreed to move item 3 of the agenda -  Progress report from the Town Centre Manager, to later during the meeting, due to the Town Centre Manager being delayed. 

 

The Chairman  welcomed Dennis Hannant – Spalding Town Centre Manager to the meeting, he was requested to provide an update on the voluntary code of practice for shopkeepers ‘Smart Traders Scheme’. 

 

Members were advised that after meetings with the Town Centre Traders and Chamber of Commerce he had been advised that the voluntary code would not progress further as it did not gain support from those groups.  There were varying reasons why support was not given, which included; potential cost implications and lack of promotion for the town.  It was noted that a lot of retailers were only occupants of their shops and landlords may be reluctant to make any investments. 

 

A Business Improvement District (BID) had been on the agenda for local groups.  A BID had potential for real improvements for Spalding, as the levy paid by businesses would be invested back into the Town Centre, complementing council services.   Should a BID be proposed it would need to be voted on by residents.  Should it be successful all the businesses within the area would be required to pay a levy, the rate of the levy would be determined by the amount of business rates paid.  A further meeting regarding the BID was scheduled to take place on 13 July 2016, should it be progressed an outcome would be determined in around 12 – 18 months time. 

 

The Chairman thanked the Town Centre Manager for his update, and requested that the Panel’s support for the BID be passed on. 

10.

Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent.

 

 

NOTE:            No other business is permitted unless by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the Chairman is of the opinion that the item(s) should be considered as a matter of urgency. 

Minutes:

There were none. 

11.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To consider resolving that, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3 and 4 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

Minutes:

AGREED:

 

It was agreed to, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public were excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3 and 4 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

12.

Exempt minutes of the joint meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel and Policy Development Panel held on 16 May 2016

To receive the exempt minutes of the joint meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel and Policy Development Panel held on 16 May 2016 (copy enclosed)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the exempt minutes of the Joint Performance Monitoring Panel and Policy Development Panel, 16 May 2016.

 

AGREED:

 

That the minutes of the Joint Performance Monitoring Panel and Policy Development Panel, 16 May 2016 be approved.