Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Alexander Murray, Governance Officer 

Items
No. Item

1.

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMITTEE INCLUDING THE APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR AND VICECHAIR pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To note the Membership of the Committee for the 2021/22 municipal year agreed at Annual Council 26 May 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the Membership of the Committee be noted.

2.

TERMS OF REFERENCE 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To note the terms of reference of the Committee for the 2021/22 municipal year agreed at Annual Council 26 May 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the Terms of Reference be noted.

3.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 208 KB

To receive and, if so determined, to agree as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2021.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held 17 March 2021 be noted.

4.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members to give notice of any interest and the nature of that interest relating to any item on the agenda in accordance with the adopted Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

5.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

A maximum of 15 minutes will be allocated to public questions submitted in writing to Democratic Services (democratic.services@trafford.gov.uk) by 4pm on the working day prior to the meeting. Questions must be within the remit of the Committee or be relevant to items appearing on the agenda and will be submitted in the order in which they were received.

Minutes:

No questions were received.

6.

BUDGET UPDATE pdf icon PDF 163 KB

To receive a presentation from the Director of Finance.

Minutes:

The Director of Finance gave a brief overview of the presentation that had been circulated with the agenda. The presentation contained an update on how the council performed against the 2020/21 budget and the Council’s reserve position.

 

The Committee were informed that the total impact of Covid on Trafford during 2020/21 was around £52M. This had been reduced through a combination of government grants and other tools, including the ability to cover some of the cost over three years. The net financial pressure of Covid 19 on the Council in 2020/21 was around £8M. Through the use of other funding made available for specific services, such as Public Health, the Council were able to achieve an overall underspend for 2020/21 of £2.8M.

 

The Director of Finance then moved onto the update on Trafford’s reserve position. Trafford had started 2020/21 with a reserve balance of £91M and that had increased to just over £200M by year end. The Director of Finance explained that there were plans in place to use large swathes of those reserve funds to tackle the continued challenges of Covid 19. One example of the use of reserves was to address the expected reduction in revenue due to the Council not receiving a dividend from Manchester Airport. The Committee were directed to slide eight of the presentation which showed the expected depletion of the reserves from £200.92M to £56.26M by 2024.

 

The Director of Finance concluded their overview by informing the Committee that the Public Accounts Committee had sat in May 2021 to look at the impact of Covid 19 on Council budgets and they had asked MHCLG to feed into local governments’ response. It was hoped that the outcome would be long term funding plans for local government which would in turn enable local authorities to plan further ahead.

 

Following the overview the Vice Chair asked about capital projects within schools and whether they were being paid by schools. The Director of Finance responded that works within schools were usually funded through capital grants. There were additional funding streams available to schools to complete works but schools should not need to use their own funds to pay for capital works required by the Council. The Director of Finance asked the Committee to provide him with any examples that they were aware of so that he could look into it further.

 

Councillor Procter asked whether any of the predicted impact of Brexit upon the Council’s budget had started to be seen. The Director of Finance responded that Brexit had been a key focus prior to the pandemic and the finance team were continually tracking the impact. The Director of Finance explained that Trafford had a large reliance upon business rates and there had been a steady decline in them over the past two years although there were a number of factors attributing to this with Brexit being just one. It was very difficult to understand the position at the moment as the ongoing impact of Covid made it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

ACM CLADDING

To receive a report from Trafford Housing Trust.

Minutes:

The Executive Director from Trafford Housing Trust (THT) provided a verbal report to the Committee. Since 2019 THT had taken a fabric first approach to fire safety, which focused upon getting the materials and compartmentation right for all homes to ensure fires were stopped at the first opportunity. THT had invested in all areas of the high rise tower blocks to make sure that they were fire safe and this approach had spread to cover all of THT’s housing stock.  THT had also expanded this work to their shelter schemes and were in the process of replacing all fire alarms, with 50% expected to be replaced within the year. THT were taking the same compartmentation approach to walk up flats as had been taken in the high rises and that work was scheduled to be completed within the year. The final piece of fire safety work ongoing was a door replacement programme, which was 50% complete and would be finished over the next two to three years.

 

The Executive Director for THT assured the Committee that it was of great importance for THT to get the cladding right and they understood the concerns of their customers. The Executive Director for THT apologised for the amount of noise being caused by the re-cladding works and recognised that this was far from ideal, especially with more residents working from home during the pandemic. Following communications from residents THT had contacted their contractors to ensure that work was only conducted during core working hours and information had been provided at each tower block stating what works were to be carried out each week. All of the old cladding had been removed and each tower block was classed as safe. The recladding of Empress Court was due to be completed in July and the other tower blocks would all be completed by December 2021. THT recognised that it had taken a long time to complete and the Committee were assured that the customer’s safety had always been of upmost importance.

 

The Executive Director for THT concluded by informing the Committee that a detailed piece of work was being conducted by THT’s parent company L&Q looking at the installation of sprinklers across all their housing stock. That review was to be completed by the autumn and THT would be able to provide more information after that point.

 

Following the Vice Chair noted that there had been reports of poor communication by THT with residents and he asked whether any improvements had been made to address this. The Executive Director of THT apologised for any problems residents had in contacting THT. The Committee were assured that was not the approach THT took and that they tried to be accessible to their customers as possible. Clear information on how to contact THT was available at every building they managed and it was important for residents to contact THT directly rather than speak to contractors to avoid communications from being lost. There had not been any changes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

HOMELESSNESS IN TRAFFORD pdf icon PDF 672 KB

To receive a report from the Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration.

Minutes:

The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services introduced the report and went over the key points. The Committee were informed that the housing service had been outsourced for a number of years but as of April 2021 the service had been brought back in house. The service supplied the Council’s statutory duties around housing and the service was mainly administered at the reception in Sale Waterside. The pandemic had led to the hub closing but an additional remote service had been developed in response, which would continue to be delivered alongside the service at Sale Waterside. The service received around 65 applications from Trafford residents per week on average. The Council had three duties that the service provided; a duty to support residents to avoid becoming homeless, a relief duty to support those in immediate need of direct assistance, and a main duty which addressed groups of people who needed the highest level of assistance.

 

The service provided advice to a households to aid them and help avoid homelessness. Trafford had ranged between 6 and 0 rough sleepers with an average of 2 or 3 and the service had plans in place to help those individuals. The service also provide temporary accommodation when needed, which was often placement in a bed and breakfast. Trafford had seen up to 24 people staying in bed and breakfasts but it averaged around 12.

 

Trafford also received people in need of housing from other local authorities. There was a statutory duty for authorities to inform each other when this occurred and Trafford had been working with the other GM authorities to improve the notification process. The majority of placements from outside of the borough came from Manchester City Council and there had been over 30 notifications received from them since the 1st April 2021.

 

The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services concluded with an overview of the challenges the service was facing. There was an increase in demand expected following the conclusion of the moratorium on evictions, which had been in place during the pandemic. The service also faced challenges in terms of the cost of renting homes within Trafford compared to the level assistance people received. The pandemic had prevented the progression of a number of housing work streams, especially those that looked at the links between health and homelessness. The service was working to reduce the additional impacts of the pandemic through monitoring and co-working with organisations across Trafford. In the long term the council were looking to increase the provision of temporary provision available in the area to reduce the need to place people in bed and breakfasts.

 

The Vice Chair raised concerns around the people from Manchester who were being placed in a Travel Lodge in Sale who did not seem to be provided with support and did not know where to get support from. The Vice Chair added that he also had ongoing concerns around the people placed at the Ambelhurst hotel and he asked for additional information  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 369 KB

To receive and discuss the Committee work programme for the 2021/22 municipal year.

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the item and asked Members to note the items populated in the draft work programme and to put forward suggestions for items they wanted to be added. The Chair suggested two items for task and finish groups of highways services and commissioned services. The Chair recognised that these were two large areas and it would be for the task and finish groups to pick an area of focus as part of the scoping exercise. In addition to those two groups there was the continuation of the disability access task and finish group led by Councillor Winstanley.

 

Following the introduction Councillor Carter asked whether Members had to add items at the meeting or whether items could be added throughout the year. The Chair responded that Members could put forward items to be added to the work programme at any point in time either by raising it at meetings or by emailing the Chair, Vice Chair, the whole Committee, or supporting officers. Any proposals received would then be considered and agreed upon by the Committee.

 

Councillor Axford noted that an update was scheduled for the next meeting on Climate Change and requested that the Committee cover the Council’s response to climate change regularly. 

 

Councillor Newgrosh asked whether the Amey Contract could be reviewed as part of the work on commissioned services. The Chair responded that the Committee had completed a task and finish group looking at the Amey Service back in 2018/19 and the report would be shared with Committee Members. Councillor Barclay asked that the Amey contract be included on the work programme so they could review whether the recommendations made by the task and finish group were implemented.

 

RESOLVED:

1)    That the work plan be noted.

2)    That the Committee agree to have task and finish groups on Highways Services and Commissioned Services.

3)    That the Task and Finish Group on Dissabled Access continue.

4)    That Climate Change be kept on the Work Programme.

5)    That the Amey Contract be added to the Work Programme.

6)    That the report on the Amey Contract from 2018/19 be sent to Committee Members.