To receive an update on performance in relation to the Council’s strategic priorities in those service areas that fall within the remit of the Board.
The report of the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment provided a summary of performance against the strategic priorities for the council and city and other performance areas relevant to the Environment, Housing and Communities Scrutiny Board and in line with the Best Council Plan.
The report covered Quarter 2 2021-22 performance information. Members were requested to consider the performance information contained in the Appendix to the submitted report and the issues which have been highlighted and consider if they wish to undertake any further scrutiny work to support improvement over the coming year in any of these areas.
The following were in attendance for this item:
o Councillor Harland, Executive Member for Communities
o Councillor Coupar, Executive Member for Resources
o James Rogers, Director Communities, Housing and Environment
o Gerard Tinsdale, Chief Officer Housing
o John Woolmer, Chief Officer Environmental Services
o Lee Hemsworth, Chief Officer Community Hubs, Welfare and Business Support
o Tim Rollett, Intelligence & Policy Manager
o Adam Crampton, Head of Property Management
Responding to questions and comments from Members, the Board were provided with the following information in relation to each area:
· Void properties. All properties have been allocated, and work is on-going to identify ways to move tenants in quicker. Members were asked to provide details of specific cases to officers, to discuss outside of the meeting.
· Disrepair claims. Clarity was provided on trends in particular areas and the use of communication strategies to work with customers on outstanding repairs.
· The impact of the Right to Buy scheme in Leeds. The Executive Member for Resources explained that whilst the Right to Buy scheme has an impact on the Council’s ability to provide council housing, it was acknowledged that the Council work with the Private Rented Sector to ensure availability of housing and can offer bonds to people whilst they’re waiting for Local Authority / Housing Association properties.
· MEARS contract update – the new contract went live on 1st October 2021 and it was considered that the level of progress remains on track and significant progress has been made on the backlog of void properties. It was noted that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) remain suspended, and KPIs were thought to be re-introduced from 1st April 2022.
· Unauthorised Encampments. There are sites that have been identified in the Site Allocations Plan to expand on permanent traveller sites in the city. Board Members were asked to provide suggestions of any possible sites to officers for consideration.
Community Hubs and Welfare
· Mobile hubs. Responding to a member regarding the operation of minibuses specifically in the Farnley and Wortley ward, it was confirmed that most mini-busses were used for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, and mobile hubs were operational as of January 2022. Further clarity on specific wards will be provided outside of the meeting.
· There are mechanisms in place to ensure that residents are kept up to date with local schemes. Officers confirmed further work will be undertaken to identify how residents are kept well informed.
· Specific details requested by a member in relation to the Members Improvements in the Community and the Environment (MICE) monies, funding Council facilities will be provided outside of the meeting.
· Bin Collection Rates. The overall number of households missed in Leeds can be provided outside of the meeting.
· Recycling. Current ways of measuring recycling figures vary across Local Authorities, and future ambitions are dependent on the National Waste Strategy. It was noted that there will be a possible requirement to collect food and glass separately. It was also confirmed that the Council are working with consultants to analysis contents of black bins and considerations around which materials have the biggest impact on climate change; findings will be reported at a future meeting.
· It was confirmed that the landfill figure is 0.6%, and information will be sought on how this compares in relation to overall waste and fed back at a future meeting.
· It was noted that there are challenges around the expectations of what feedback people receive after reporting cases of fly-tipping. It was acknowledged that there is some work to do around looking at the information provided on the Council website in terms of providing a statement setting out the process after a report has been made.
· Specific issues with residents being unable to contact offices regarding missed bins will be picked up outside of the meeting.
· Vehicles blocking roads. Members were provided with an update on the TRO scheme, and it was confirmed it is currently in phase 2. Members were encouraged to provide suggestions of areas where bins are regularly missed to feed into the scheme moving forward.
· Road closures in terms of refuse collection. The service liaises with contractors to ensure bin coverage across the city is provided.
· Volunteers and local community groups are a big part of street cleansing and reference to acknowledge the work they have carried out, will be referenced moving forward.
· Covid related absences have reduced to 5-6%, and the service continue to monitor the wellbeing of staff / other illnesses; it was acknowledged that this will be a challenge for the service over the coming months.
Elections and Regulatory
· Parking permits. It was noted that a board member had been advised that parking permit schemes could not be implemented where residents have access to any form of off-street parking. However, since receiving that advice the member had been made aware of several parking permit schemes, including in Wetherby and Farsley, where off-street parking is also available.
· Officers were asked to clarify how many of the 137 parking permit schemes referenced in the performance report are in areas where off street parking is available, and advice was sought as to why that would be the case.
Parks and Countryside
· Park renewals and repairs. It was noted that Executive Board have recently agreed a 10-year Green Park Strategy for the City, that drives ambition in its vision. However, concerns were raised by Board Members relating to the lack of communication on dealing with basic repairs and carrying them out.
· A member referred to the “Love Leeds Parks” organisation and urged that body to be used more widely across Leeds to support the provision of quality parks and green spaces across Leeds.
· The steps in place the Council are taking to mitigate challenges around retirement and sickness. It was confirmed that the Council are aiming to employ apprentices, to change the age demographic across the service.
· Woodland Creation. Responding to a comment regarding enhancing the success of schemes by improving consultation with residents, officers confirmed that the tree planting scheme has been successful city wide, although it was acknowledged that there has been higher engagement in certain areas. Additional work with ward members will maximise the success of schemes moving forward.
· Whilst it was acknowledged that reducing herbicides across the Council presented challenges, work is on-going to identify solutions.
The Chair thanked officers for their attendance.
RESOLVED- To note the contents of the report, and the appendix, together with Members comments during discussion of this item.