Venue: Committee Rooms 2&3, Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford M32 0TH
Contact: Alexander Murray, Governance Officer
To receive and, if so determined, to agree as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 12th July 2023.
Councillor Carter raised concern over the minutes from the previous meetings not being available for this meeting. The Chair informed Councillor Carter that this was due to the close proximity of the two previous meetings and that these would be provided at the next meeting.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting’s held 10th July and 12th July be received at the next meeting of the Committee.
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.
The Executive Member of Housing and Advice informed the Committee that he was currently employed by one of the housing associations present.
RESOLVED: That the declaration be noted.
QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC
A maximum of 15 minutes will be allocated to public questions submitted in writing to Democratic Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 4 p.m. on the working day prior to the meeting. Questions must be relevant to items appearing on the agenda and will be submitted in the order in which they were received.
No questions were received.
DAMP AND MOULD WITHIN THE TRAFFORD HOUSING STOCK
To receive a report from the Executive Member for Housing and advice alongside information from Housing Associations Operating within Trafford.
The Executive Member for Housing and Advice gave an introduction to why the issue of damp and mould had been brought to the Committee, and how recent cases had highlighted to the public and the government some of the poor housing standards that remained a part of people’s everyday lives. This included a recent coroner report which attributed mould as a reason for death to an individual outside of the borough. He continued by saying that even though the Council does not manage any housing stock within the borough directly, this does not impede the Council’s ability to take action against hazards within housing associations stock and reiterated the Council’s commitment to do this. The Committee were provided with some of the statistics behind complaints the Council has received in the past 12 months in relation to housing standard. Most notable was of the 234 complaints made to the Council, 77 had been down to the issue of mould.
The Executive Member concluded by stating that he was committed to working with housing providers to tackle the issue despite the low levels of resource available to the Council.
The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services then spoke to the report that had been circulated with the agenda and informed the Committee of the level of social housing in the area. While the level of social housing in Trafford was lower than other areas it still represented a significant amount of the housing stock in the area. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services provided details of the work the Council had done in collaboration with housing providers and asked the Committee to note the responses by providers to the Governments legislation and the motion that had been passed by the Council to deal with mould. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services then moved on to discuss the Council’s role as a housing regulator and the powers the Council had in this regard. The Committee were informed of the complaints received by the Council and how they often signified poor management of a property. The report outlined the process of how the powers were utilised and, like the Executive Member for Housing and Advice, highlighted that the Council had a number of tools that can be employed if it is deemed necessary to take formal action.
Councillor Western noted that section 3.7 mentioned an online form that residents had to fill in and asked if there was a paper version available. The Director of Growth and Regulatory Services responded that the majority of forms received were submitted online although those who may have difficulty can go to a contact centre or a Council reception to report their issues.
Councillor Axford noted that the issue with damp and mould was linked to the cost-of-living crisis and the cost of energy and asked if the number of complaints of damp and mould has increased over the past year. The Team Leader for Housing Standards responded that only since last year was there ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
RETROFITTING OF TRAFFORD HOUSING STOCK
To receive information from Housing Associations operating within Trafford.
The Chair started by highlighting that all the housing providers had provided the information prior to the meeting and asked each representative from the housing associations to provide an overview as to what they were doing with regard to retrofitting.
The Director of Asset Management at Your Housing Group (YHG) opened by saying that their associations approach had been to look at the funding available and operating a fabric first approach, which is effectively looking at insulation. YHG had been involved in the social housing de-carbonisation funding which been done in two waves so far. They had also looked at possible cavity wall insulation. At the time, YHG had over 1000 properties that needed to have their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating upgraded to a C by 2030 and aimed to do so by 2029 with plans to put in a large amount of funding to achieve that.
The Head of Special Projects and Sustainability at L&Q stated that they had a similar approach and spoke about the application process which took a lot of work but resulted in the association being able to secure about £2.2M. She said that L&Q were starting assessments on their properties. L&Q currently had 2457 properties within Trafford that needed to be brought up to grade C, but with most at a grade D currently, the cost was not expected to be too much. The Head of Special Projects and Sustainability at L&Q assured the Committee that L&Q were generally in a good place for retrofitting at that time, and had a Sustainability manager in place in the Northwest that was helping L&Q to achieve this success. The Committee were reminded that it is the Government target to have all properties should at least an EPC grade C by 2030.
The Executive Director for Homes at Irwell Valley also informed the committee of their focus upon addressing getting houses to a EPC rating C, with their current average sitting at a high grade D. They were currently in the process of trialling a new approach to improvements and spoke about the improved ratings of their new builds.
The Disrepair and Complex Repairs Manager at Mosscare St. Vincent’s (MSV) informed the Committee that in Trafford, most of their properties were already at a grade C EPC rating, with 2030 the target date to have all up to standard. He explained the delay as being down to the remaining houses being properties with specific issues, which were going to take more thought to sort. He emphasised that these properties were retrofitted correctly, as if they were not, you risk mould forming.
The Group Director of Asset Management provided a similar response to the other housing authorities, with Jigsaw Homes operating a similar approach.
Councillor Winstanley asked the housing associations how much time and effort was being spent on applying for funding. The Head of Special Projects and Sustainability at L&Q stated that it was very arduous task, which took ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
To receive a presentation from the Partnerships Director NW for L&Q.
The Chair began by noting the importance of L&Q in Trafford due to the volume of stock they held. The Chair noted the previous relationship with Trafford Housing Trust (THT) and stated his hope that the Council would see a similar partnership going forward.
The Partnerships Director NW at L&Q introduced herself and stated that her role was focused upon Trafford and the Northwest and that this role had been made as a conscious decision when the THT merged with L&Q. She stated that she currently did a lot of work with key Greater Manchester (GM) housing association stakeholders, as well as other providers.
The Partnerships Director NW at L&Q informed the Committee about a new joint strategic forum established earlier in the year between the Council’s corporate leadership team and similar senior leadership at L&Q. This forum had looked at a wide range of strategic and consistency areas which included increased member communication and engagement. The Chief Executive of L&Q had met with the Chief Executive of the Council and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been put in place which also asked how the Scrutiny Committee felt that they could fit into that. This was to be explored moving forward.
As part of this partnership, several changes and engagement had already begun. Firstly, a session for new elected members had been held earlier in the year, and this would continue to be an offer in the future, that provides training for new members so that they knew who they could contact regards to housing issues within their wards. There had also been a commitment to a joint fund of community hubs for the next two years. Plans were also being made to look at working in partnership to deal with the poverty within the borough, which also fed into the work around engaging with the unheard voices.
The Committee were made aware that the Trafford Housing Trust Board had the Leader of the Council on it until the merge. With regard to the L&Q Board, Partnerships Director NW told the Committee that appointments to this Board followed a standardised process, based upon the skills held and required on the Board, and encourage Councillors to apply for a position when these became available.
The Chair stated that there should still be Councillor representation on the Board. The Partnerships Director NW responded that due to L&Q covering over 100 Council areas they were unable to offer coverage to all, so instead operate through applications.
Councillor Coggins asked whether any of the membership of the Board was also a local councillor at another Council, asked if Trafford was one of the largest Council’s that L&Q operate in, and if so, would Trafford have more of a case to be on the Board. The Partnerships Director NW at L&Q responded that as far as she was aware, there was no one on the L&Q Board who was on it due to ... view the full minutes text for item 17.