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Item 03 - Minutes of Board Meeting held on - Gateshead Council

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Item 03 - Minutes of Board Meeting held on - Gateshead Council Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                        ITEM 3




                         BOARD OF DIRECTORS

                            13 September 2007

PRESENT:

Directors
Barbara Dennis (Chair)
Angela Armstrong
John Hamilton
Joseph Hattam
Valerie Hodge
Peter Mole
Christian Siassia
Jim Willis

Advisers
Bill Fullen         Chief Executive
Jon Mallen-Beadle   Director of Finance
Neil Bouch          Director of Housing Management
Peter Burchall      Director of Property and Technical Services
Kevin Johnson       Service Development Officer
Stuart Gibson       Company Administrator

Apologies for Absence
Stan Dawson
Kathryn Ferdinand
Malcolm McKie
Sara Woolley


53    MALCOLM MCKIE

      The Board was informed that Malcolm McKie was currently in hospital
      due to illness.

      RESOLVED –         That a card be sent to Malcolm from the Chair on
                         behalf of the Board wishing him their best wishes for a
                         speedy recovery.

54    MINUTES

      The minutes of the last meeting held on 12 July 2007 were approved
      as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


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55   MATTERS ARISING

     (a)   Service Agreement – Grounds Maintenance Service

           The DVD that will provide customers with a visual understanding
           of the service agreement will be made widely available.

     (b)   Board Vacancies

           There were only two applications for the vacancy for a Tenant
           Board Member. Therefore, it has been agreed with the Council to
           re-advertise.

           There are currently two vacancies for Independent Board
           Members. One potential Board Member has been identified. The
           vacancy(s) will be advertised shortly.

56   A FRAMEWORK FOR FAIRNESS: PROPOSALS FOR A SINGLE
     EQUALITY BILL – CONSULTATION RESPONSE

     The Board received a response made by the company to the
     consultation on the Single Equality Bill: A Framework for Fairness
     (Minute 44).

     Due to responses being required before the next meeting of the Board,
     the Chief Executive was given delegated powers to respond to the
     document and submit details to the Board for information.

     RESOLVED –       That the response to the consultation paper be noted.

57   MOCK INSPECTION

     The Board has previously been informed that the next inspection will
     take place in November 2008.

     As part of its approach to continuous improvement, the company has
     carried out a number of internal and facilitated reviews. These have
     identified a number of actions required to improve services.

     In order to prepare for the next inspection, it would be appropriate to
     carry out a full mock inspection well in advance of the live inspection.
     This would enable any identified action to be developed and
     embedded prior to next November. Mock inspections are an accepted
     part of the inspection process and a number of ALMOs have found
     that a mock around one year in advance of a live inspection to be a
     key contributor to a successful inspection.

     Four organisations were invited to submit costed proposals for carrying
     out a mock inspection of the company. Two of the organisations,
     Housemark and the Northern Housing Consortium did not submit a
     proposal. Housing Quality Network and Housing Consultancy
     Partnership who submitted proposals were invited to an interview to

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     highlight how they would approach the commission should they be
     successful.

     Following the interviews, it was felt that Housing Consultancy
     Partnership provided the more effective proposals.

     RESOLVED –        That Housing Consultancy Partnership be appointed
                       to carry out a mock inspection of the company.

58   DELIVERY PLAN 2007/08

     The Board approved the Delivery Plan 2007/08 on 15 May 2007 and it
     was agreed to forward a copy of the plan as an update to the Council
     for its approval and that the Chief Executive, following consultation with
     the Chair of the Board be given delegated powers to make any minor
     amendments.

     The Council’s Cabinet approved the Delivery Plan on 17 July 2007. A
     small number of amendments were made to the plan. The agreed
     changes were aimed at expanding on the achievements of 2006/07
     and identifying the key actions flowing from the priorities for 2007/08
     and expanding on the Value for Money section. There were no
     substantive amendments recommended.

     RESOLVED –        That the changes made to the Delivery Plan 2007/08
                       as a result of consultation with the Council be noted.

59   NORTH REGION ELECTIONS TO THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
     ALMOS (NFA) BOARD

     The NFA is the representative trade body for ALMOs. Its primary
     objective is to promote the ALMO option and to assist existing and
     prospective ALMOs to operate effectively.

     The NFA aims to secure the long term financial future for ALMOs,
     persuade central government to take account of the interests of
     ALMOs and establish a vibrant and innovative independent ALMO
     sector that will provide decent homes, raise standards across the
     public rented housing sector, achieve excellence in service provision,
     promote tenant empowerment and help to deliver broader national and
     local policy priorities.

     The work of the NFA is overseen by a board consisting of nine ALMOs
     that are members of the NFA. Appointment to the board is by ALMO
     not by individuals. It is for each elected ALMO to decide whether to
     delegate a board member or an officer to attend or whether it wishes
     to use the buddying system and delegate both. The expectation is that
     the Chair and/or Chief Executive would normally be designated but
     substitutes can be sent. The board meets three times a year.

     The NFA invited nominations to the board and three places were
     available to Northern ALMOs. After consultation with the Chair and

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     Vice-Chair, it was agreed that in order to ensure that the North East
     ALMOs were adequately represented, that the company should seek a
     place on the board.

     Nominations for the Northern Region were submitted by the company,
     Sheffield Homes and Stockport Homes. As there were no other
     nominations submitted, these three ALMOs became the
     representatives on the NFA Board.

     It is proposed that the company follows the buddying approach and
     delegate the Chair of the Board and the Chief Executive to be the
     company’s representatives.

     RESOLVED – (i)         That the election of the company to the NFA
                            Board be noted.

                    (ii)    That the Chair of the Board and the Chief
                            Executive be the company’s representatives on
                            the NFA board.

60   HOUSING GREEN PAPER: HOMES FOR THE FUTURE – MORE
     AFFORDABLE, MORE SUSTAINABLE

     The Board was informed of the Housing Green Paper ‘Homes for the
     future: more affordable, more sustainable’ published by Communities
     for Local Government (CLG) on 23 July 2007.

     The Green Paper sets out the government's proposals to increase the
     supply of housing, to provide well designed and greener homes that
     are supported by infrastructure and to provide more affordable homes
     to buy or rent. It outlines the CLG plans for delivering these homes.
     More homes backed by more ambitious building targets, increased
     investment and new ways of identifying and using land for
     development.

     A Briefing Paper giving a summary of the Green Paper was submitted.

     Responses to the Paper are required by 15 October 2007. Given that
     this is before the next Board Meeting, it was proposed that the Chief
     Executive be given delegated power to respond to the document and
     submit details to the next meeting.

     RESOLVED – (i)         That the Housing Green Paper on ‘Homes for
                            the future: more affordable, more sustainable’ be
                            noted.

                    (ii)    That the Chief Executive be given delegated
                            powers to respond to the document and submit
                            details to the next meeting of the Board for
                            information.
                    (iii)   That a further report be submitted to the Board
                            on proposed future developments.

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61   DELIVERING AFFORDABLE HOUSING: MEETING THE
     CHALLENGES OF GROWTH AND EFFICIENCY

     The Board was informed of the Housing Corporation’s publication on
     delivering affordable housing.

     The publication sets out the names of the Housing Corporation’s
     Investment Partners for the 2008-11 period. These organisations will
     work with the Corporation to deliver affordable housing over the next
     three years.

     The Corporation has extended the number of organisations it is
     working with and has also agreed Partnership status with a more
     diverse range of housing providers. It believes this increased capacity
     will be crucial in meeting the challenges of efficiency and growth in the
     supply of affordable housing.

     Following announcement of its Investment Partners, the Corporation
     will be launching a prospectus for the National Affordable Housing
     Programme and inviting detailed bids in September 2007. Investment
     will be ready to flow from the start of the new programme in April 2008.

     RESOLVED –        That the Housing Corporation’s publication on
                       delivering affordable housing be noted.

62   DELIVERING HOUSING AND REGENERATION: COMMUNITIES
     ENGLAND AND THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL HOUSING REGULATION
     – CONSULTATION RESPONSE

     The Board was informed of the response made by the company to the
     Department of Communities and Local Government Consultation on
     Delivering Housing and Regeneration: Communities England and
     future of social housing regulation (Minute 40).

     Due to responses being required before the next meeting of the Board,
     the Chief Executive was given delegated powers to respond to the
     document and submit details to the Board for information.

     RESOLVED –        That the response to the consultation paper be noted.

63   BUDGET MONITORING

     A budget monitoring statement for the first four months of the financial
     year to 31July 2007 and an analysis of the budget and actual
     expenditure in central management other running costs, were
     submitted.

     The budget assumes a 2.5% 2007/08 pay award, which is still being
     nationally negotiated. When agreed, this will result in a backdated
     payment to all staff. If the 2.5% assumption were correct, the total
     payroll and salaries cost increase to the end of July would be £73,000.


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     The overspend on general office and review and consultancy costs is
     caused through full year costs being incurred at the beginning of the
     financial year.

     The overspend on legal costs is caused through court costs and legal
     advice provided by the Council for the equal pay claim being brought
     by caretakers and concierges.

     Repair costs have been under budget in the first four months of the
     year (£4,958,000) and are lower than at this time last year
     (£5,361,000). However, as in previous years the cost of repairs is
     significantly higher in the fourth quarter of the year and the company
     will continue to closely monitor this.

     RESOLVED – (i)         That the information be noted.

                     (ii)   That a progress report be submitted to Human
                            Resources Committee on the equal pay claim.

64   TRANSFER OF ACCOUNTS – FORMER TENANTS’ ARREARS

     Periodically, the Council transfers former tenants’ arrears considered
     irrecoverable into a debtors account. This entails setting off an amount
     against the bad debts provision held in the Housing Revenue Account.

     The last transfer was effected in March 2007 and amounted to
     £274,129 owed by 274 former tenants.

     During the last financial year, the sum of £276,143 has been recovered
     from former tenants, including £23,939 relating to previously
     transferred accounts which have been reinstated for recovery
     purposes.

     Using the agreed criteria, it is proposed that 4,056 cases totalling
     £1,802,443 in value should be recommended for transfer.

     RESOLVED –        That Gateshead Council be recommended to transfer
                       £1,802,443 of former tenants arrears into a debtors
                       account.

65   PERFORMANCE – FIRST QUARTER 2007/08

     The results for those Performance Indicators which can be reported at
     the end of the first quarter in 2007/08 were submitted.

     Compared to targets for the year performance has improved in a
     number of important areas. Of the 25 indicators where performance
     can be compared to 2006/07

         seven indicators are traffic lighted green and are achieving their
          quarterly/annual targets;


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         six indicators are traffic lighted amber and were not on target.
          However performance has improved compared to 2006/07;
         12 indicators are traffic lighted red are not on target and
          performance has fallen compared to 2006/07.

     In addition, some indicators are cumulative with final results reported
     later in the year.

     The analysis therefore indicates that performances relating to 13 out of
     25 indicators are on target or improving.

     RESOLVED –         That the performance information included in the
                        report be noted.

66   CORPORATE HEALTH PERFORMANCE – FIRST QUARTER
     2007/08

     The results for those Corporate Health Performance Indicators which
     can be reported at the end of the first quarter in 2007/08 were
     submitted.

     The Performance Committee agreed at its meeting on 11 September
     2007 to amend the future targets of one indicator (CH1 –% of those
     making complaints satisfied with the handling of those complaints)
     because year-end performance was better than the existing target.

     RESOLVED – (i) That the performance information included in the
                    report be noted.

                     (ii) That the proposed amendment to CH1 target be
                          approved.

67   NEW HEADQUARTERS UPDATE

     Gateshead Council’s Cabinet has approved the leasehold acquisition of
     Olas House, Fifth Avenue Business Park, Team Valley Trading Estate
     and the granting of a sublease to the company to provide
     accommodation for its administrative headquarters.

     Subsequently, it was established that if the Council take a lease of the
     property from the landlord and then subsequently sub-let the property
     to the company, both parties will be liable to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax
     to the Inland Revenue with each payment being set at £32,891 payable
     on the commencement of each lease agreement. If an agreement
     were in place that was directly between the Landlord and the company,
     a single Stamp Duty Land Tax payment of £32,891 would be due.

     It was therefore agreed by the Council that the lease would be directly
     between the landlord and the company. The Council will however
     remain as a guarantor to the lease on behalf of the company and sign
     an Authorised Guarantor Agreement to this effect.


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     A management agreement between the Council and the company will
     also be put in place to outline management issues that will arise
     through this proposal, establishing those same responsibilities that
     would have been included in the sub-lease.

     This course of action was also agreed with the Chair of the Board and
     the lease and all corresponding documentation have now been signed
     by the Chair and Company Secretary of the company.

     The next phase of the move is the fitting out of Olas House. This work
     commenced in late August and is scheduled to be complete in early
     November 2007. It is currently anticipated that the company will move
     into the premises during November 2007.

     RESOLVED – (i)          That the information be noted and the actions
                             taken be endorsed.

                      (ii)   That a site visit to the new headquarters be
                             arranged for Board Members and Gateshead
                             Councillors after it has been kitted out.

68   SUSTAINABILITY WORKS – PUBLIC ART

     The Board agreed, at its meeting on 9 November 2006, a proportion of
     the sustainability funding would be allocated to support public art. In
     March 2007, seven artists were shortlisted and invited to submit ideas
     for public art on the Allerdene, Wardley, Abbotsford Road, Racecourse
     and Low Crawcrook Estates. This was to complement the
     sustainability works proposed for these estates.

     The company received proposals from three artists Marcella
     Livingston, Gilbert Word and Grahame Hopper. Following interview
     and presentations it was decided to award the commissions as follows:

         Marcella Livingston – Allerdene and Low Crawcrook
         Gilbert Word – Wardley
         Grahame Hopper – Abbortsford Road, Racecourse

     The first task for each artist is to consult with local residents and local
     schools to develop proposals for public art on their estate. This
     consultation and involvement will be carried out during September
     2007.

     The budget for the public art to each of the five estates is £20,000,
     which will be funded from the company’s sustainability budget.

     RESOLVED –         That the commissioning of the artists be noted.

69   TENDER RETURN – LIFT REPLACEMENT AT MONK COURT

     The company has appointed consultants, Royal Sun Alliance, to
     undertake a condition survey of all lifts in multi-storey blocks and
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     identify a programme of lift replacement. Royal Sun Alliance identified
     Bensham Court as the first lifts to be replaced. The Board approved
     this work in April 2006 and Stannah completed the installation. The
     Board also approved the replacement of the lifts at Redheugh Court in
     January 2007 by Allied Lifts.

     The next lifts on the replacement programme are those at Monk Court,
     the repair history shows that there is a high level of breakdowns and
     spare parts are increasingly difficult to find.

     Royal Sun Alliance has managed the tender process and invited four
     contractors to tender for the lift replacement. Two tenderers were
     interviewed following their tender submission to clarify aspects of the
     tender submissions and to ensure that all companies were compared
     on an equivalent basis. All tenders were revised after the interviews to
     take into account any adjustments required.

     The budget allocation for lift replacement is £320,000, of which £37,000
     has already expended; this installation will be funded from the
     remaining uncommitted budget.

     RESOLVED –        That the contract be awarded to the lowest compliant
                       tender submitted by Stannah Lifts for the fixed price
                       sum of £116,477.00.

70   ANNUAL ACTIVITY – 2006/07

     The Board received statistical and other information relating to key
     activities carried out across the company during 2006/07.

     Statistics showing the number and type of properties under
     management were submitted. The rented property stock reduced by
     341 over the year, although leasehold properties increased by 36.

     The statistical information relating to the following key activities was
     also submitted. Information relating to 2005/06 was shown for
     comparative purposes.

         Rent Arrears
         Rent Payment Methods
         Tenancy and Estates Management
         Vacant Property Management / Lettings
         Responsive Repairs
         Major and Cyclical Repairs
         Leasehold Management
         Training

     Examples of the information that can be compared are:

         Rent arrears at the start of the year were £102,284 lower that at
          the start of 2005/06.

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         The number of evictions for rent arrears reduced from 90 in
          2005/06 to 66 in 2006/07.
         The number of customers paying at post offices reduced from
          5,082 in 2005/06 to 4,456 in 2006/07.
         The number of customers paying by debit increased from 12.97%
          to 14.67% in 2006/07.
         Cash transactions at Housing Offices reduced slightly from 44.6%
          to 42.60%.
         Tenancy terminations reduced from 2,492 in 2005/06 to 2,264 in
          2006/07.
         The number of lettings reduced from 2,064 in 2005/06 to 1,600.
         Repair orders that were completed during the year reduced from
          86,591 in 2005/06 to 72,097.
         There were 30,542 fewer attempted telephone calls made to the
          repair reporting service.
         23,659 more telephone calls were actually answered by the repair
          service.
         2,543 properties were made decent during the year, compared to
          854 in 2005/06.
         5,380 properties did not meet the Decent Homes Standard at the
          end of the year, compared to 8,007 at the start.

     RESOLVED – (i)        That the information be noted.

                    (ii)   That the Board be informed of the number of
                           RTB properties after they have been made
                           decent.

71   PETITIONS SCHEDULE

     The Board received an update on progress with petitions received
     since the protocol for the handling of petitions was agreed.

     RESOLVED –       That the information be noted.

72   OUTSTANDING ISSUES

     The Board was informed of outstanding issues it has requested a further
     report on.

     RESOLVED –       That the information be noted, subject to the filling of
                      Board vacancies being added to the schedule.

73   PERFORMANCE COMMITTEE

     The minutes of the meeting of Performance Committee held on 11
     September 2007 were submitted.

     RESOLVED –       That the recommendations contained in the minutes
                      be approved.



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74   FEEDBACK FROM OUTSIDE BODIES AND EVENTS

     The following feedback from outside bodies and events was reported: -

         Members of Performance Committee felt that an exercise should
          be carried out to ascertain the preferred start times of Board
          Members for committee meetings and to consider allocating times
          to particular committees.

         Christian Siassia and Joseph Hattam have put themselves
          forward to fill the vacancy on the Diversity & Access and
          Performance Committees respectively.

     RESOLVED – (i)          That the information be noted.

                     (ii)    That the Company Administrator writes to all
                             Board Members to ascertain their preferred start
                             times for committee meetings.

                     (iii)   That Christian Siassia and Joseph Hattam be
                             appointed onto the Diversity & Access and
                             Performance Committees respectively.

75   DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING

     The next meeting of the Board will be held on Thursday 8 November
     2007 at 10am in the Blaydon Room, Gateshead Civic Centre.

76   EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

     RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the
                meeting during consideration of the remaining business
                in accordance with the indicated categories of the
                company’s Access to Information Rules.

77   NEW BUILD (Categories 5 and 6)

     Housing Quality Network has almost concluded its study on new build.
     The next stage will involve a joint meeting between the Board and the
     Council’s Cabinet to discuss moving the issues forward.

78   LIFT MAINTENANCE (Category 6)

     The Board agreed, at its meeting on 8 September 2005, to appoint
     Kone Lifts to undertake the maintenance to all lifts within the managed
     properties. The contract had been compiled by consultants, Royal Sun
     Alliance and was to run to 31 March 2008.

     On 13 April 2006, the Board was advised that Kone Lifts were generally
     operating within the terms of the service standards of the contract,
     although there had been some initial operational difficulties. Since then
     the performance has deteriorated to the extent that several meetings

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had been held with Kone and Royal Sun Alliance, at which various
performance issues which have been brought to Kone’s attention.
These meetings culminated with a notification to Kone on 19 April 2007
giving them three months notice to demonstrate significant
improvement.

The notice period ended on 31 July 2007 and there has been no
improvement in performance. It is therefore proposed that the contract
should be terminated and Kone Lifts given a three month notice period.
Should the performance become worse during that period, or should
Kone Lifts immediately withdraw from the contract, Stannah Lifts have
given an assurance that they will provide a service to ensure
customers are not affected.

It is also proposed to appoint Royal Sun Alliance to prepare tender
documentation and assist in the selection of a replacement contractor
to carry out the future lift maintenance.

There will be a cost to tender this contract, which has been allowed for
within this financial year’s maintenance budget.

RESOLVED – (i)          That the lift maintenance contract with Kone Lifts
                        be terminated with a three month notice period.

                (ii)    That Royal Sun Alliance prepares contract
                        documentation and assisting in the selection
                        process for a replacement contractor.

                (iii)   That the Board receive a further report to
                        appoint a new contractor.




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